Life in Suburbia: Competing With the Joneses

Manicured lawns. McMansions. Drive-thru Starbucks and Target. Aaaaah the suburbs.

I live in surburbia and as much as I mock it, we’ve carved out a cozy place. It’s convenient and my favorite part is the quirky charm. Take the July 4th weekend.

My suburb for some reason has THE most popular July 4th parade in the Chicagoland area. So popular that people started saving spots days in advance, putting their blankets and chairs on the front lawns of folks who live along the parade route.

A few years ago the city instituted a rule that you can’t save spots until 7 the night before the parade. Last year I drove the route around 7 p.m. to see what the hubbub was all about. Somewhere along the way of seeing the tarps and tye-died sheets unfurling, intricate webs of stakes and ropes being woven, I caught the fever.

Why, I *too* must save a spot! So I jetted home, grabbed some chairs to anchor down an old army blanket and got a good spot. Next year, I’ll be more prepared, I muttered.

And I was. Hubby, Logan and I spent much of the previous afternoon at the nearby carnival and went over around 6 p.m. to check out the scene. I was surprised to see a van parked in front the spot I’d hoped for. So we parked our Jeep under the next available tree. You see it’s the pre-spot-saving saving.

My hubby guarded our shady spot with his life while Logan and I scoped the route. I was checking out the competition, looking for ideas on improving our spot-saving technique. Many people had tent stakes and wires. A group of guys with a lot of beer and music used logs and a huge blue tarp. Some ducktaped comforters to the sidewalk. Chairs were roped together. I think the city should start judging the spot-saving techniques in addition to the parade floats.

We busted out ours: An old fitted sheet, a torn army blanket, a hammer and seven nails. Then an old couple shows up. The woman is angry, almost hurt and points to our spot. “This is where we usually set up.” I blink back. Is this really happening? “We were late because it’s our 41st anniversary and we had a party.” I cheerfully said “Wow, 41 years? Happy Anniversary!” But was met with a stony reply. Her hubby began setting up his green tarp nearby.

We get in the car and my hubby grumbles: “I wasn’t buying that sob story.”

Wow. What’s happened to us? Hubby and I are competitive by nature so is it that everything out here is so easy we hunt for a challenge? I don’t know. I have to say we don’t get sucked into the Christmas lights nor the greenest lawn competition, maybe the July 4th insanity will be our thing? It’s a silly tradition but, it’s fun. I mean who wants to keep up with the Joneses when you can flat out beat them?

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