by Wendy MacLeod '81
We're familiar with urban legends and now with Kenyon's rural ones. But what about tales that proliferate like kudzu in our burgeoning suburbs? Wendy MacLeod, Kenyon's James E. Michael Playwright-in-Residence, keeps her ear to the lawn in 'burbs coast to coast and imagines the stories that might make the rounds:
There was once a book club meeting in Darien, Connecticut, in which everyone had actually read the book.
There are children in affluent suburbs who become catatonic without "activities." They pull into a fetal shape, convinced that a single idle afternoon will cost them the Ivies.
In Arlington, Virginia, there was once a bag of microwave popcorn in which every kernel popped.
There is a McMansion in Orange County, California, whose air-conditioning system uses as much electricity as the entire city of Brussels. Its automatic sprinklers use as much water as the entire annual rainfall of Oregon.
Starbucks is secretly owned by Colombian drug cartels, and America's office parks are being run on caffeine and trace cocaine.
In Rye, New York, SAT prep courses are incorporated into the pre-school curriculum, sandwiched between noodle-art and the making of Mother's Day gifts that will have to be "disappeared."
There are superbugs growing in thousands of minivans, the lethal bacterial spawn of fallen Cheerios and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.
There's a tribe of Jazzercise women in Worthington, Ohio, who can still be glimpsed wearing ceremonial thongs and leg warmers.
There's enough E. coli left behind on the grills of a single suburb to bring the Taliban to its knees.
There are middle-aged men who have squeezed themselves into bicycle shorts that they can never get off. They are forced to wear them in perpetuity as undergarments.
There is an eco-lawn in Concord, Massachusetts, that has swallowed up 74 shuttlecocks, 136 boomerangs, and more than 2,000 Frisbees.
Caddies have been said to disappear from the sixteenth hole of a golf course in Brookline. Some say they've just disappeared into the woods to toke up, but many consider it the Bermuda Triangle of the links.
There is a "puppy play-park" in New Rochelle where new dogs are routinely set upon and killed, particularly those who are not Portuguese Water Dogs.
There are husbands who have never returned from driving the teen-aged babysitter home, lost in a perpetual loop of middle-aged sexual fantasy.
There are victims of the subprime mortgage crisis living in Costcos around the country. You will know them by the extraordinarily white teeth that come with a never-ending supply of Sonicare replacement brushes.
There are thousands of tiny suburban blonde women driving in gigantic SUVs whose legs have atrophied.
There are Highland Park husbands still circling the streets of Chicago searching for a parking place after dropping their wives off at a downtown restaurant in 2002.
There is a Weight Watchers meeting in Bloomington, Indiana, where starving women once fell hungrily upon one of their own, like the Donner Party in late winter.
There is an entire neighborhood in the vicinity of Montclair, New Jersey, where one spring Saturday the people were buried under layers of cedar mulch, which settled upon them like the ash at Pompeii.
The only surviving Plesiosaur was discovered in a chlorine-free swimming pool in North Hollywood. He is now represented by CAA.
There is a Best Buy in suburban Detroit that carries a wide-screen plasma television that is a portal to the lost continent of Atlantis.
There are suburbanites who have never visited the city that they satellite. Some can't even identify the city.