(This is the prologue to Tracy Beckerman’s new book, Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I Got Pregnant, Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs. Reposted by permission of the publisher. The book can be ordered here.)
“Good morning, ma’am.”
“Good morning, Officer.”
“Are you aware that you made an illegal left turn onto this street?”
“No, sir,” I lied. “Didn’t you see the sign at the corner that said, ‘No left turn’?” he asked in standard police monotone.
“What sign, Officer?” I responded in standard suburbanite bull doody.
“That big sign over there, Mommy!” shouted my daughter from the backseat, as she pointed back in the direction of the school.
Apparently, my almost three-year-old, who could not yet read, was an idiot savant when it came to interpreting street signs.
“I guess I missed that sign.” I shrugged. “There were too many minivans blocking my view.”
He gave me a dubious look and then lowered his oversized mirrored Ray-Bans. If I hadn’t been dressed in my bathrobe, I might have actually made a snarky comment about his ’80s-style sunglasses. But people who live in fluffy, blue bathrobes shouldn’t throw stones.
“Is that your bathrobe?” he asked suspiciously, peering down at my robe. The cat was out of the bag.
“Yes, it is, Officer.”
“And are those birds on your bathrobe?” he wondered.
“That’s Mommy’s ducky bathrobe,” chimed in my daughter from the backseat. “She likes it ’cuz it quacks her up!!” She quipped, quoting a bad family joke. The cop wasn’t amused.
“Can I see your license and registration, please?” he finally asked.
“Hey, Mama. Hey, Mommy. Hey, Mom,” chanted my daughter.
“One minute, puss,” I said as I rummaged through my handbag, which was equipped for every possible kid emergency from a hunger meltdown to a snot explosion, but apparently not for being stopped by a cop.
“Hey, Mama. Hey, Mommy. Mamamamamamamama . . .” she repeated.
“Your mommy is busy right now,” said the officer impatiently.
“Hmmph!” snorted my daughter. “I wasn’t talking to you, you big bubba!”
I gave the cop a withering smile. I was going to jail for a very long time.
In my bathrobe.
— Tracy Beckerman
Tracy Beckerman writes the syndicated humor column and blog, “Lost in Suburbia,” which is carried by more than 400 newspapers in 25 states and on 250 websites to approximately 10 million readers. She’s also the author of Rebel Without a Minivan: Observations on Life in the ‘Burbs. She has served on the faculty of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.