Town and Country in the Suburbs

Town and Country magazine came in the mail to my house once a month. I always wondered what my mother saw in that magazine. I could never figure out any use for it. Princesses and matriarchs rode their stallions looking happy, clean and fresh, as if riding a horse was all they knew how to do - when they weren’t pinning a tiara to their head for a ball.

We didn’t live in the town or in the country. We lived in the suburbs with houses that all looked the same and cars that all looked the same and fathers that would all drive the same style cars to work in the morning at the same time.

In those days, magazine subscriptions were expensive and not something free you got for signing up for a credit card. They were investments and people didn’t throw them out. Instead, they would purchase a magazine rack to display their riches of printed material. It was an odd investment to carry on with, but gave my mother comfort to peel open the perfume flap and rub it all over her wrists. This is one thing that I do not share with my mother. When I purchase a magazine, the first things that come out of it are the renewal cards, any thick paged advertisements and anything that smells.

Every month, when that precious commodity arrived in the mail, I thought of it as a glossy catalogue for burglars to select who they should rob that month. Do you suppose the ranches and estates in the magazine had to beef up security for the month they were featured? Do you think when the photographers were on the way to photograph their homes that the owners ever lifted up their zebra skin rugs to sweep that “last bit of dust” underneath? Or, shove a pile of dirty laundry under the bed at the last minute, like I do when friends come over?

When that white- edged magazine came in the mail, I wondered if my mother dreamt of a life she could have had - if only she had made different decisions. Perhaps, if she had married that radiologist next door, instead of my father, she’d be on her Arabian horse right now riding along some beach in New England with a gang of photographers running alongside her.

I always thought Town and Country was like a porn magazine, each month featuring a centerfold of a different stallion being walked through some opulent vineyard. My mother stared at the photos, carefully studying how the other side lived, as if she would earn a degree studying the richest people on earth. Maybe she thought if she scoured the pages long enough, that she’d find some long lost relative that died and was looking to give her an inheritance, or find someone who was desperately looking to adopt a 7, 11 and 13 year old group of kids, (her own). Maybe we were someone’s long lost children and upon our return, she would be offered a massive reward.

Perhaps she thought she’d get a head start on learning all the names of the elite, so when she was chosen at random to represent her country as a diplomat at the Greyhound dog racetrack, she’d know everyone by title as she curtsied the ladies and gracefully floated her cashmere gloved hand, to receive kisses from the gentlemen.

The magazine would come to our home in a brown paper wrapper - like sex toys are sent, as if her desires were secret and she didn’t want the neighbors to know –I’m pretty certain there were several other women in the neighborhood that were also indulging in the same secret. Perhaps in sex toys too.

Once inside the pages, advertisements of crystal and champagne gleaming, golden jewelry smothered in gemstones and blonde haired women wearing tiaras and smiling next to their afternoon tea. Children in dresses and mini-suits with crooked bowties, tearing apart berry crumble muffins on top of white linen tablecloths. Their mouths covered in jam, but even that was decorative and stylized.

My mother would put her feet up on our 15 year old sofa that was shredded on the corner with yellow foam poking out, from where the dog liked to sleep and lick her toes. She’d turn through the pages, absorbing every detail, admiring each baroness; watching their lives unfold over a 7 page spread, featuring pictures of their homes, swimming pools and ladies pruning gardens while wearing their floral bonnets. Along with pictures of their gentlemen husbands with combed hair, a large golden wedding band on their manicured finger, looking poised as they gave their precious wife a hug from behind the white sofa. The love for their wives was a constant surprise - always looking giddy with delight. Everything in their homes was white, as if to say, “Your children would never be welcome here. There is no dirt in our world”.

With a pair of pants in her lap that needed hemming and a needle between her teeth, a page would be open to last month’s debutante ball - Young girls waiting to be paired up with a family while wearing their fluffy white dresses, (More white - a color forbidden from our family wardrobe - there wasn’t enough Scotchguard to protect our clothes from dirt and constantly dropping of food on our shirts – especially the tv dinner cobbler pie square, which always left what looked like a gelled blood stain), and while the television blared, my brother and I torturing one another, my mother would sink back into her world of Town and Country imagining a glistening life of perfection.

I finally escaped the suburbs, magazine subscriptions, junk mail and even bills. I left the country for my own fantasy of traveling through Europe.

When I was 24 and traveling through Eastern Europe, I went into a bathroom stall where a little old Czech lady collecting money, had fashioned old newspapers and magazines into little paper envelopes to deposit used sanitary pads. I noticed the familiar debutantes, princesses and Lady’s in waiting, wearing their tiara’s, riding their horses on the untouched sands of white perfection. They were helping to keep the bathrooms clean in Prague. I finally figured out how useful that magazine truly was.

If you like this Hub,  please visit:  http://hubpages.com/hub/Published  and vote for it for "HubNugget"  of the week!  Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed it!

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Comments 23 comments

christianesk profile image

christianesk 7 years ago from The Global Hamlet

Ahhh, living vicariously through glossies and the vicissitudes of the glossies' "lives."

Quoted:"When I purchase a magazine, the first things that come out of it are the renewal cards, any thick paged advertisements and anything that smells."

Yep, exactly what I do too. Get rid of the extraneous matter, just as any photographer ought to do.

Oh, I love your tongue -in-cheek sarcasm, your wry amusement, and  the irony of the finish. This is not a short hub, but I was drawn in and I really wanted to read it all the way through - so, of course I did. You're revealing quite a lot about yourself here, and I dig that so much.  I wish that some more of the ad-crazy hubbers would do that - reveal themselves, instead  of scattering a few bits of tarnished tinsel here and there on the hub pages. Well done!


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand Author

Thank you so much! What a relief to hear some feedback. I was concerned about putting up such a long hub that wasn't "informative". Truth be told, this is more of the style of writing I enjoy...However, I consider myself a novice and in the "re-learning" phase. Thanks again for the inspiration!


Jane@CM profile image

Jane@CM 7 years ago

Nice hub. Funny how our mothers had a fantasy life, isn't it?


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand Author

Thanks Jane@CM. Always amusing to look back at.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Laura, I believe you have captured what many people do -fantasize how the other people live!  And the photos from a magazine actually draws out the "oooh's" and the "aaahhh's" and the "how I wish" feelings. LOL  I enjoyed reading your hub and made me wonder what my mom's secret fantasies are.  Thumbs up.

Congratulations for being a Hubnugget Wannabe!  http://hubpages.com/literature/Published  Share, promote and get your friends to vote for your hub!  wooo hooo!


Herald Daily profile image

Herald Daily 7 years ago from A Beach Online

This is a great story and so well told, thanks for sharing it with us. You are a terrific writer, Laura.


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand Author

ripplemaker - Thanks very much! Its funny after reading your comment I realised how many people do this constantly - I guess that's what the whole celebrity culture is all about. I get the opportunity to have a birds eye view of it living on the other side of the world (celebrity culture is huge in Thailand to- but its in Thai, so its easy for me to ignore). Thanks for sending the inspiration!

Herald Daily - Thank you VERY much! I really appreciate it. It inspires me to write more.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Yes, I remember included in those list would be politicians, the royal clan with the prince and princesses and dukes and duchess and etc, the rich and the famous and the celebrities of course! LOL So it's like that in Thailand huh? Interesting...


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Yeah, the free perfume samples are what I like the most about glossies, too! But kidding aside, I guess they serve their purpose for some people or else they'd go out of circulation and to think there is the Internet. I enjoyed the read, thanks for pointing me this way :D


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand Author

ripplemaker - of course! How could I forget. Thailand is SO into the royalty -more hardcore than England ever was!

Cris A - Thanks for stopping by. Its true - this magazine has been going on for so many years! I think so long as there are people that need to fill up magazine racks, it'll be around.


k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

I, too, always find it amazing how white everything is in those type of magazines. Do you think they ever have any actual fun?


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand Author

K@ri - They probably have fun riding those horses and having parties...but, not so much fun if they fall out of popularity or lose their money and their friends find out. It probably gets kinda boring once you have all your 'stuff'. And, the rigid appearances one would have to keep in that world probably causes a lot of scandal and psychological shadows - which artists then make movies and books about to entertain people like us...so, I suppose when all is said and done, we probably have more fun observing and imagining their world, than they do in it.


Ghost32 7 years ago

This Hub gets my vote. Of course all of the nominated Hubs are gr-r-reat! (To paraphrase the old Tony the Tiger cereal commercial). They were selected to compete BECAUSE they were great. But Laura, your sense of humor is as well expressed as any standup comedian ever thought of being. You go!

Of course, I'm biased: We don't even live in the suburbs but in a camp trailer in the "dirty ol' desert"....


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand Author

Ghost32, Thank you so much! That is a very kind review that I hope to live up to. I really appreciate your vote as well! I bet there's some fine stories to be told from the "dirty ol' desert". I look forward to looking at your hubs and hope to find them!


Dink96 profile image

Dink96 7 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

Our mothers were alike in the respect that they seemed to long for a life that they knew they would never have, yet lusted for nevertheless. Very good hub! Good luck with the HubNuggets!


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand Author

Dink96 - Yes. I wonder if they ever figured out that their own lives were probably far more interesting? I suppose its always good to have a fantasy life to some extent - that's where the creativity comes from. Thank you very much!


MindField profile image

MindField 7 years ago from Portland, Oregon

Absolutely wonderful hub, Laura! I'm very impressed and can't wait to read all you have to offer.

The photo at the top reminded me of one of my favorite quotations: "I know that dogs are pack animals, but it is difficult to imagine a pack of standard poodles...and if there was such a thing, where would they rove to: Bloomingdale's?" --Yvonne Clifford, American actress


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

Congratulations for being a hubnugget!


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand Author

MindField - Thank you so much! I'm so happy to hear it.

I love that image of a pack of standard poodles. That would be the most awesome photo shoot ever! Can you imagine? A pack of fluffy white topiary pets with pink toenails rushing the doors of a sale at Bloomingdales. Love it!

Jill of alltrades - Thank you very much! I'm so excited about it! It certainly is an inspiration to write more...I have some ideas brewing!


Pink Mingos profile image

Pink Mingos 7 years ago from Mars

Beautifully written! I loved this (and yes, can certainly relate to it). I can remember my mom and aunt and their fasination with Elizabeth Taylor. Together they would focus on every detail in the "special edition multi page layout" of Liz covering all of her husbands and many jewels, etc then frown as they glanced to the livingroom where their "Truck driver" husbands were snoring!


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand Author

Pink Mingos- Thank you! Its so funny to have those memories of people fawning over the big celebrities. I suppose its still done, but nowadays its faster (since its rare for any celebrity to last longer than a few years), and its over their baby bumps. Though, I'm sure the husbands snoring - that's timeless.


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 7 years ago from SE Thailand

This was a really brilliant read Laura, really did enjoy it, (and reading the comments too). Shades of 'Cider with Rosie' eh? My Mum was also a Liz Taylor fan and indulged in the fantasy world of the rich and famous (still does I think, though she's 84 now - never too old to dream!) Her greatest delights were to see that Liz et al also got old, saggy and wrinkly and were human after all.


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand Author

MB - I'm happy you liked it. Its funny how many people relate to it. And Liz Taylor....she's the queen of it all!

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