Sunday, August 28, 2005

Keeping Up with the Cohens*

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* For the sake of this post, it has been determined that my last name is COHEN.

I mentioned at some point, long ago in my blogging history, that I resisted moving to this area of the city we live in because I don't believe in "keeping up with the Cohens" (years ago, I came up with a list of imaginary Jewish TV shows; that was the name of a sit-com I'd conjured up). It is common knowledge in this community that money talks -- in a school setting, in a shul setting, in a social setting. Children are being raised with fewer values and more materialism on the brain, and frankly, it disgusts me. Our children understand the value of a dollar and understand that we might look to be like everyone else but we're not and prefer not to be.

We have some friends -- they used to be friends in our old neighborhood, preceeded us to the new neighborhood -- or rather, they're only acquaintances now, but used to be friends. In spite of our proximity to them geographically, and the fact that our sons are good friends, we're grown distant.

It appears to my husband and I that these people have issues of envy/jealousy. (perhaps not the wife, but certainly the husband) We bought a FoozeBall table, they soon had one. We bought a new van 'cause we needed one, they saw it, made a comment and had a new van shortly after. They found out that my son was taking an extra-curricular course; they had to sign their son up too. I mentioned that I had been in L.A. and we were then going at the end of that June week to Florida's Universal Studios, and immediately the husband said "Yeah, we're probably going away too." My husband, who has seen this "copycat" pattern, piped up, "Does your wife know?" Well, they just came back from a week in L.A. and Universal Studios there.

Their son is a spitting image of his father. When I drove him to school this past year for a few months, he'd get into the car, not say hello to my son or I, but immediately pipe up: "My dad is gonna get me..." or "My dad bought me..." I cannot stand braggarts, even if they're young kids. I was thankful that my son never reacted positively to his friend; he knows bragging is the wrong thing to do, and I'm thankful that my children don't do that. They also understand financial limitations are financial limitations, and they don't need to have all the same things that some of their friends have.

It is not just mere coincidence that these people ended up with things that we had or did. They saw these things; they wanted these things, too; they bought or did these things. Once upon a time, the husband asked my husband his salary: that spoke volumes...especially when my husband told him it's none of his business.

Not too long ago, my husband sarcastically told that guy, "We're gonna buy a boat...are you planning on buying one, too?" Of course we're not buying a boat, but I'm pretty sure that if they did see a boat trailing our van, that family would soon be setting sail, as well.

There is a wonderful children's book by Canadian children's author, Robert Munsch. It's called "Stephanie's Ponytail" and is about Stephanie who wears her ponytail differently each day. The kids at school call out "Ugly, ugly...very ugly." But of course, the next day, they're wearing their hair exactly as Stephanie wore it the day before. This pattern repeats and then one day Stephanie announces, "When I come to school tomorrow, I'll have shaved off my hair!" And the next day, she comes to school, ponytail intact, while everyone else has indeed shaved off their hair.

Keeping up with the Cohens... indeed a tough act to follow!

2 comments:

Sweettooth120 said...

I once overheard a guy from a very affluent neighborhood, complain about the gifts that his son received for his Bar Mitzvah. "And they ONLY gave him $100!" My jaws dropped. I couldn't believe what I just heard. I just wanted to put him in his place, but instead I just shook my head with disbelief of this jerk's attitude. It wouldn't surprise me at all, if his children turned out the same way.

cruisin-mom said...

Pearl, we have watched other families do that with eachother... one bought a vacation house, so the other did. One got a new car, so the other did, one went on vacation, so...you guessed it! My husband and I just sat back and laughed...while the others scurried around to one up the other. I'm thankful to not have to be a part of that...