by C. Jeanette Tyson
It wasn’t all that glamorous, a quick client meeting in Philadelphia, but
it was a trip.
I don’t get out much, you see.
Since the kids were born almost four years ago, I’ve
worked at home. I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to email
the work in, in between sessions at Gymboree, but after a while you do miss
the perks of working in an office with people with more or less advanced
vocabularies and, of course, expense accounts. I craved just a smidgen of
cynical banter between readings of Go, Dog, Go and Madeline.
These days I’m starting to take on larger
projects again, work which requires some traveling and clothing of a higher
order than faded corduroys. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
I’d never spent any real time in Philadelphia
other than a college-era weekend which somehow involved sitting around the
set of Taps with Tim Hutton, cheesesteak at midnight and a tour of duty to
The Bell. But I was definitely up for the urban experience; I blew the dust
off my high heels and even bought new lipstick.
Dinner at Buddakan, in a fashionable part of
downtown Philadelphia, was going to fit the bill nicely.
With wide-planked dark wood floors, cream-colored
walls and geometric shelving, the place has a warm, inviting feel to it from
the minute you walk in. What keeps the décor from becoming too plain is the
spectacular far wall in the main dining area which is very red, with a
curtain of water flowing down it and into the pool behind a Buddha the size
of a SUV. Except taller.
My client and my colleague were younger than I, one
in her early thirties, and dare I think about it, one in her late twenties.
They both currently live right smack in the middle of the fast lane. I
remembered it well.
But there I was, for one night at least, back in
the game, out on the town for a bit of smart chat, yes, even cynical banter.
Yeehaa. I wanted to talk about the city, where did all these beautiful
people come from, where did they go? That man leaning on the bar, handsome
in a Peter Coyote way, with his hair dropping into his eyes, who was it he
waited for so anxiously? That woman with the jewels upon jewels, what was
But my companions asked me about sitters, how did
anyone afford them?
I wanted to talk about Philadelphia’s art scene.
They wanted to know what kids do at
three-and-a-half. Do they like to paint, read books?; does she play with
Speaking of Buddha, I wanted to talk about the
article I’d read in The New Yorker about the Panchen Lamai’s
daughter. They wanted to know if my twins went through toilet training at
the same time.
What was the kids’ routine at night? How do you
figure out what to feed them? How do they get so much stuff? Why do you hire
sitters when the fathers are actually there?
Hell, I even wanted to talk a little business. But they
were more interested in the relative merits of station wagons over SUV’s,
assuming, of course, that you don’t have four kids which cantilevers you
in another automotive class altogether.
In the old days, a table of women could have spent
ten minutes amusing themselves at the expense of a waiter who described an
appetizer as having an aromatic arch at the end with a straight face.
Somehow only I noticed.
We passed the plates around, as instructed,
The edamame ravioli that had sounded too intriguing
to pass up proved to be outstanding. The duck and shitake potstickers were
perfectly crisp. The pad thai was firm, sweet and lovely; the Chilean sea
bass melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
We’d gotten there early, just before six, and in
a couple of hours the place was packed, bristling with conversation and
At some point I gave up on the idea of myself as
slick gal out about the city. I’d gone all the way to Philadelphia to talk
about exactly the same thing I talk about here on the playground or standing
around birthday parties with other moms.
And I did it gladly.
I was having dinner with an earlier version of
myself, life filled to the brim with work and friends and travels and
fabulous restaurants. You never imagine, when you’re at that point, how
you’re going to do it, how you’re going to fit in the baby.
Of course, the difference between me and my young
colleagues was that I never once thought to ask.
But so much is different now. We help each other
navigate the landmines of motherhood, whenever they come. We eat. And we
definitely expense the meal.
It’s all, after all, work-related.
C. Jeanette Tyson is a stay-at-home writer in the advertising
business. Jackson and Maddy are the reason why. If you’re ever in Philly,
I’d highly recommend Buddakan on 325 Chestnut Street. 215.574.9440. And
the handsome man at the bar? He was waiting for his father. Got a tip, suggestion, idea or feedback for A Little More on Your Plate?
Send it to Jeanette at: email@example.com