Picket fences, pocket parks, green spaces, and activities directors define the master-planned communities that are beginning to overtake the suburbs of The South.
They are meant to evoke the nostalgia of days gone by, with homes built on small lots and wide roads circuited by sidewalks. The option to walk to the restaurants, shops, the library, and the elementary school are the draw for people who want to raise their families in idyllic settings.
These neighborhoods may seem to be filled with homogenous people, but with observation one realizes the characters are an ensemble cast of sitcom dreams.
People You’ll Meet in Every Southern Suburb Part 1:
1. The Hometown Girl
You’ll know her because she talks about how much things have changed since she was a little girl (she’s 27) and wants you to know the earth on which you walk is a parcel of her family’s former farmland. She’d prefer her hometown would stop changing but she’s awful glad to meet you. If you need to know anything about the area, she’s the person to ask because she also went to the local college and married her sweetheart whom she met there. He’s from the next town over but she refused to live there because “it’s just a bunch of hicks.”
2. The Workout Queen
She’s svelte and slender, and could probably take you down easily even though she’s only 5’1. Her day begins as she drops her older children off at the elementary school and then points her giant, sparkling SUV toward the gym. Her preschoolers spend the morning in the gym’s childcare while she works out. At 8:50 a.m. she retrieves the children and drops them off at preschool at 9:00 a.m. While they are at preschool, The Workout Queen takes some time for herself with a yoga class and coffee with friends. After she picks up the preschoolers, she returns them to the afternoon childcare shift at the gym to finish her workout routine.
3. The Running Club
Not to be confused with The Workout Queens, this group runs outside with the reliability of Amazon Prime deliveries. They run for hours at a time, because they are always training for a ridiculously long race. Because the long runs are dull, they run together so they may chat, usually three to five wide. Though there are sidewalks on each side of the street and laws in place forbidding pedestrians in the street unless the sidewalks are impassable, The Running Club finds justification in being upset that they are not being given wide enough berth by passing vehicles. This often results in complaints on Facebook along with group selfies and humblebrags about personal records.
4. The PTA
This group decorates school hallways, elicits volunteers for onerous tasks like school beautification committees, and generally makes life magical for children at the neighborhood elementary school. Without them there would be no over-the-top décor for Teacher Appreciation Week, no monthly gourmet luncheons complete with sommeliers and white linen table service for the teachers, or monogrammed gifts for each staff member. It’s that old rule of ten percent of the martyrs doing 90 percent of the work, but it must be done and done well.
5. The Career Woman
She has no time for the frivolity of the PTA, but will gladly write a check if that’s what keeps the machine moving. Occasionally she thinks that the PTA members are wasting their educations and aptitudes spending their time die-cutting letters for bulletin boards, but she’s got goals and ambition and does not have time to think about what they are doing. She’s busy padding her 401K and planning her next luxury cruise while she is waiting for her kids to finish up with Latin lessons. Oh, and those kids are 6 and 8 and have more stamps in their passports than you will have in your life.
6. The Party Girl
This lady loves parties. Loves throwing them and loves going to them. She’s been known to keep a Book Club or Bunco game going well past midnight because she has been home with the kids all week while her husband has been traveling for work and there is no tedium like that tedium. To combat boredom she had a covered bar, which she thinks of as her clubhouse, built in her backyard so she’ll never be lonely. She can feel her brain getting mushier and her soul withering by the day. She sometimes thinks she ought to think about getting a job but mornings come early for someone with a regular hangover. Also, it would cut into getting coffee every morning with The Workout Queen.
7. The Midwesterners
There are quite a lot of these, and they mostly seem to be from Ohio. You’ll know them because they insist on letting everyone around them know of their adoration for their Big 10 School. They are often shocked at the lack of enthusiasm for their team they receive from native SEC fans, and that other universities have rabid football followings. When they find each other, the excitement, for them, is palpable. Also known for extensive team flag collections. On their homes. On their cars. On their person. Every day, not just game day.