Letters to My Favorite Urban Stereotypes: Dear Granola Mom

Dear Granola Mom,

I saw you today.

You came into Café du S_____ around the corner from my house and I admired how well you hid the baby weight beneath your brightly patterned tunic.

I’m sorry that the twenty- and thirty-somethings looked scornfully at your son. He seemed harmless enough swaddled in that fair trade carrier and continued his slumber as you scrambled to get the bulk of your two reusable bags around the mess of chairs. By now you must be used to that chorus of exaggerated sighs that accompanies your arrival in a public place. That day in the café, however, it all seemed especially unfair since these people had warmly welcomed the “service” dogs who were busy nosing around the corners of the floor for croissant flakes.

At first I thought you’d come in for herbal tea, but I quickly realized you were there to raise awareness. You stopped at my table brandishing a bamboo clipboard with a petition reading STOP MALE GENITAL MUTILATION! and beneath it, a short description of your objective:

Millions of babies annually are subjected to a painful, barbaric and unnecessary procedure. Female circumcision is banned under Title 18, so why are we partially dismembering America’s precious boys?

You offered me some pamphlets for further reading and mentioned that you needed 9,702 signatures to get the initiative on the November ballot.

You took your clipboard to one café-goer oozing compassion, the Intoxicated Artist, who was busy stealing glances of fellow patrons to inform the scribbles in his tattered sketchbook. Your earnest pitch was cut short by a soft cry. “Oh shit,” you exclaimed. It appeared that your son Lark had wet right through his cloth diaper. The mess had penetrated his soft carrier and was pooling on the floor. This spectacle inspired no sympathy from onlookers.

Your first move was to drape a woven burp rag over the puddle. It was decorated with bands of neon patterns and wooly stripes. I imagined that you’d purchased the cloth during one of your countless international travels, perhaps from a vendor in Peru where you took pause to enjoy a flute band. I bet you even had the courtesy to lean with interest over their pile of dusty CDs and shoebox littered with coins. In my mind, you smiled and graciously pulled diez nuevos soles from your hemp handbag.

I was roused from my daydream when you asked the busser if you could purchase one of his clean kitchen rags. You even inquired as to whether or not it had been washed in detergent containing phenols, optical brighteners or any carcinogenic contaminants. The man laughed, shrugged his shoulders and uttered something in Spanish.

Before Lark’s accident, I’d overheard some snippets of your conversation with the sympathetic Intoxicated Artist that roused my curiosity. Did you really have breast feeding parties with your Occupy friends? And why did you choose red wine, garlic and fresh rosemary for your placenta marinade?

I had wanted to ask you these questions and more in person even if I was annoyed with the petition, but you realized that you were late for the toddler meditation session you’d scheduled for your older daughter Sierra. I only wonder where you get the money to pay for such extravagances. Then again, they say this City invented the rich liberal. For all I know, you may manage a wildly successful blog on the wonders of juicing, the bitches who refuse to co-sleep with their babies, the dangers of dairy, and how your children’s astrological affiliations were predestined.

That was when you walked into your sky blue Prius and out of my life.

You’re probably wondering why I’m reaching out. It’s because I’d like to tell you something: I’m grateful for your existence. If it weren’t for your ruthless environmentalism, dogmatic belief in homeopathy, and unwavering support of the Farmer’s Markets, this City would be missing an important facet. Besides, our mix of people is a little like granola, right? We have our various grains, our fruits, and of course, our nuts.

I hope all is well and your smiles are many.

With a shared love for this place we call home,


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