There’s no real redeeming journalistic value in the NYT’s Sunday Styles section. It’s a catalogue of overachiever nuptials and trend stories, most of which don’t hold up to the slightest scrutiny. A lot of the time it’s dumb fun. But other times, it seems to exists solely for the purpose of making you roll your eyes in disgust.
An example from this week’s section. The story is on how the tumult on Wall Street has shaken up the gender dynamics in affluent homes.
One mother in TriBeCa, who is married, at least for now, to a Wall Street executive, put it rather bluntly: “My job was to run the household and the children’s lives,” she said. “His job is to provide us with a nice lifestyle.” But his bonus has disappeared, and his annual pay has dropped to $150,000 from $800,000 a year. “Let me just say this,” she said, “I’m still doing my job.”
Yikes. The couple the article primarily focuses on, the Berrys, live in Darien, Conn., one of the wealthiest towns in the United States.
Shortly after Scott lost his job, the couple replaced their full-time nanny with a more cost-effective au pair and began choosing long-weekend getaways instead of weeklong family vacations. Some expenses, though, haven’t changed: they still shell out for membership at a local country club (“the most modest one in town,” Tracey said); they rented a condo last summer on Block Island; and they continue to pay hundreds a month for soccer, skating, T-ball and karate lessons for the children. They afford these things by dipping into the savings Scott put away during the flush years.
How to spend is a continuing negotiation — one that sometimes devolves into heated discussions, outright arguments and bouts of sulking. Tracey is trying, often unsuccessfully, to spend less on clothing for herself and the children. “Don’t make me look like a jerk,” she told a reporter, “but I cannot bring myself to buy my children’s clothes at Wal-Mart.”
“But do you have to buy them at Ralph Lauren?” Scott shot back.
The Berrys have been at this long enough to make light of the well-worn nature of their disagreement. “It goes like this,” Scott said. “ ‘How can you complain about me not earning an adequate income, when you can’t control your spending?’ ”
On cue, Tracey chimed in. “And I say, ‘How can you complain about my spending when you don’t have an adequate income?’ ”
Now, I have no idea what ol’ boy does when he’s home, but if he wasn’t working for a year, why did they need a full-time nanny in the house? The mind reels.
Also, you sort of have to love Ms. Berry’s awareness that her Wal-Mart comment had the potential to rankle, and the obdurance that made her think acknowledging it first would somehow take some of the edge off it.