I’m thinking I need a name for the type of person Nina, my protagonist in “Fear and Yoga,” represents. She’s not a soccer mom. She’s not a PTA mom. Politically correct is close. But it’s such an old term. I first heard it when I lived in North Carolina and that was 25 years ago. And it doesn’t get to the feminine.
I’m thinking this because of a conversation I had with Andrew Meyer over at the WBGO studios in Newark the other day. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t part of the interview, which is too bad, but afterwards, when we were just sitting around talking. I was talking about how in the old days, there were women who’d give the “white glove test,” checking out their neighbors’ housekeeping standards. They’d also judge them on the posture of their children, the rectitude of their homes. And Nina — I was saying to Andrew — is just like them, only an updated version.
Nina, my yoga teacher protagonist, would shudder at the kind of small-minded bitties I’m talking about, the kind of women who populated the pages of “Main Street.” But in fact she’s just as narrow minded, dogmatic and judgmental as any dowager staring out her parlor window looking for indiscretions.
If she were a real person, she’d be shocked that I see her that way. She sees herself as a rebel, as open-minded, having shaken off the tyranny of her larger-than-life Jewish mother and the rest of the Long Island bourgeoisie. But Nina’s tyrannical all right. And judgmental. Among the things she condemns (even if I don’t mention these all in my book): meat and meat-eaters, artificial sweeteners, Styrofoam, SUV’s, lawn services, sports fans, blondes with highlights, traditional synagogues and churches and pantyhose. And it’s not just that she doesn’t like these things, she considers herself morally superior. She’s doing a “white glove” test of her own, all the time — she’s just looking for different kinds of dirt.