I expect most men will not like this story ("Playdate" by Kate Walbert); I didn’t. For one thing, men are mostly absent from it. They are either ex-husbands, or stay-late-at-the-office-husbands, or faceless cab drivers, doormen and elevator operators. For another, the story, if there is one, is all beneath the surface. (I’d like to think most women won’t like it either, but I’m afraid that too many will identify with one of the two women in the story, so I don’t know.) We have Liz and Caroline, mother and daughter, going to the apartment of Fran and Matilda, mother and daughter, for a playdate. It’s already something of a cliché, but such a date must be scheduled between ballet and piano and the kids’ dayplanners are more crowded than their mothers’. The one interesting feature of the story is that these mothers keep (or have intended to keep) anxiety journals. It’s a post-9/11 New York City and people have reason to be jittery. The one mother comes across the journal of the other (I had trouble keeping the names straight here) and does NOT read it but eventually is given permission to do so. I expected something brilliant in her list of things that cause her anxiety, but there isn’t. Pretty much everything causes anxiety for her, and we’ve already seen that in her behavior. The mothers drink too much wine and then Liz and Caroline go home. The end. There might be a story in there somewhere, but I didn’t see it.
March 26, 2007: “Playdate” by Kate Walbert