SON: Wow, mom! That was awesome—so many different kinds of people, talking all kinds of languages, and all different races!

MOTHER: I’m happy you’re mature enough to appreciate that, Jack. There are so many different people in the world and you should respect all of them for their differences and for our common humanity. Now let’s head back to Munson.

SON: Well, if there are so many different people in the world, how come everyone from our town looks the same?

MOTHER: W-w-well, um, Jack… I guess that’s because, well, what do you mean?

SON: People here in the city dress in so many different ways! I saw a sari, I saw a yarmulke, even a hijab! How come Dad and all the other dads at home dress the same way at my soccer games?

MOTHER: Well, Jack, tucking polo shirts into high rise jeans is how your dad and his friends show they’re being casual.

SON: And in the city, I heard people reminiscing about Luther Vandross and Julio Iglesias. How come you and all your friends only talk about Carly Simon?

MOTHER: Listen, I’d love to see more of a mosaic in Munson, Jack. But let’s get one thing clear: I talk about Carly Simon because she’s the greatest single vocalist not named Carole King.

SON: Even though “You’re So Vain” is about that guy from Full House?

MOTHER: Even though.

SON: And all the different smells? On one corner I smelled cumin! And on another I smelled jerk chicken spices! And fish, and falafel—even incense! How come when you and Dad have a party everything smells like chardonnay and that bowl of potpourri on the kitchen island that looks like a pile of pinecones?

MOTHER: Come on, Jack. You can smell blue cheese and Coach bag musk too.

SON: We were in a store, and I saw a perfectly symmetrical ceramic bowl on sale for $5! Why did the mishapen one on our entryway table cost three grand?


SON: Does everyone have an “entryway table”? Look at all these different cars! I thought the only cars grown ups drove were Subaru hatchbacks with golden retrievers in the back that smell like apple juice and crushed Cheerios?

MOTHER: That’s enough, young man. It’s getting dark. Besides, you see Cadillac Escalades here and at home too.

SON: But all the windows here are tinted! And they’re playing music instead of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

MOTHER: Jack, let’s go, it’s getting late.

SON: What else haven’t you been telling me? Be honest: are Frontline and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell really the only two things on TV? Is Pirate’s Booty the only snack not taken off the market, for real? I could’ve sworn the guy we just passed had a bag of Doritos! And I just saw a whole bunch of Japanese kids my age and not a single one of them was eating dry roasted edamame or wasabi peas. Why do I have to eat that? I haven’t seen a single Trader Joe’s Seaweed Snack since we got here!

MOTHER: You’re getting all worked up. We’re going to miss our train. Here, take this.

SON: None of the moms around here are making their 7-year-old kids take Xanax prescribed by a podiatrist they went to Wesleyan with! Besides, I have one more question. Here everybody speaks English, but what do they speak at home?

MOTHER: I don’t understand.

SON: Well, here I heard people talking about sports, about life under Castro, about hardships in Cambodia and I understood all of it. What language is dad talking when he yells “I told that goddamned Amerprise prick to get me out of those municipal bonds”?