Here’s what was happening in my professional (if unpaid) life last week: I was invited to a media preview of the hot new Wii Game, Animal Crossing: City Folk. At the party, the game was there, and in the spirit of the game, in which you create and can change your Mii to suit your mood, and live a virtual life, there were make-over artists, stylists, fortune tellers…and most importantly, martinis. (Though I’m pretty sure that Mii’s don’t drink.)
Here’s what happened in my actual life: I stayed home with a sick child.
Now, I know that kids get sick. I know that it’s just part of parenthood: the puke-filled nights, the snot-filled tissues the kids never seem to remember to throw into the trash. But did it have to happen when I was invited to a ladies night out? By a company in whose best interest it was to show all of us bloggers a fun time? (And in this blog post, it does look like it was fun.) Did it have to happen when I could have gone to a bar in the East Village and not felt like the oldest, least hip, woman in the room?
Of course it did. ‘Cause that’s the way it’s been going lately. Even at the Leap Frog Party – at which I had a great time (and to which I got to go – shock of all shocks). At that party, there were display toys strewn all around the room. Or at least I thought they were display toys. Evidently, they were up for grabs. And grab these women did. You’d have thought they were giving the stuff away. Well…they were. But that’s not my point. My point is, it was worse than the half-off sale at Barney’s. These women were vicious. One woman (and I swear this is true. I saw it with my own eyes.) actually grabbed the Didj the PR person was using as a demo — WHILE SHE WAS USING IT — and put it into her shopping bag. These women were taking as much as they could carry; some even brought their husbands in to help with the haul. There was no way they were taking all this stuff for themselves. Either they were planning on scoring big on Ebay or they were planning on playing Santa at their local charities. And by local I mean their own living rooms.
What did I do? I took my allotted, pre-packaged (and quite generous enough, thank you,) goody bag and headed for the door. Actually, that’s not true. I went so far as to GIVE BACK a Crammer (the handheld that makes studying – if not fun – at least cool-looking), because I thought my kids were too old for it. That did get me the promise of a Leapster 2 for my daughter…but I’m not holding my breath. After what those women did to their inventory, they probably don’t even have enough to go to market for the holidays.
I know, I know, I should be happy with the freebies I got and not be greedy. But it isn’t about wanting more swag (or at least not only about that)- it’s about wanting to get out of my self-effacing posture and take what’s mine.
I have plenty of friends who would have said to their husbands: “Too bad the Wee One is throwing up on the night I have a great party to go to downtown. Here are some plastic bowls and a few towels…See you later!” But I can’t do that. I stay home and spray Woolite Carpet Cleaner on the new white rug because she’s missed the toilet for the third time. (Why can’t they ever make it to the bathroom? It’s like the mystery of lost socks. Unsolved forever.)
Plenty of women saw free stuff being offered and they took it with gusto. Me? I was embarrassed. I couldn’t even bring myself to take the stuff they’d actually handed to me in a bag with my name on it, much less grab for more. (though if anyone from Leapfrog is reading this: I wouldn’t mind if I did get that Leapster)
Animal Crossing is a game that’s all about community. In it, up to four people in your household can live and work together to build the perfect town. You can design your own clothes, your own house, your own life. You know what I’d like to design? A life in which I don’t always sell myself short. A life in which someone else is wiping up the puke once in a while. A life in which I’m not embarrassed to assert myself, change my look, drink a martini in the East Village on a rainy night.
I did get an Animal Crossing game in the mail to try out. And I’m going to use it to be all about me. ‘Cause the truth is, I’m never going to be able to do that in the real world: I’m too worried about my kids to put myself first, too “well brought up” to grab at the freebie table. In Animal Crossing I can do all that.
Who knows, maybe being virtually selfish and aggressive will make me reality happy. I’ll take the leap (frog) and see what happens.