Suburban Thoughts

“The house is so quiet. 10AM. What is that noise? Oh I see. It’s our new neighbor mowing the lawn. Rich and I are going over to introduce ourselves this afternoon and have lemonade. I hope they aren’t like the last neighbors, always away at the country house. I should probably invite them for dinner on Saturday as well. Time for another cup of coffee, or maybe I should clean the powder room. That maybe getting too ahead of myself for Saturday. The roast is marinating, I’ve already set the table for dinner tonight. Thank goodness Helen is taking Peter and Jim for lunch today. They make such a mess in such a short amount of time. I suppose I should prepare the menu for Saturday. Then I can make a trip to the grocery this afternoon. Saturday, Helen and Mike will bring a chocolate cake and Donna said that she will bring an exciting new appetizer. She loves to cook. She is so good at it. I suppose I shall make a ham with potatoes. I look forward to the conversation in the kitchen with the other wives more than the actual cooking. How much fun we have while Rich and the other men discuss work. It’s pleasant that they don’t hear our conversations. Something just for us to share. Helen is such a character. When we all sit down to dinner Mike usually monopolizes the conversation about his work in the city. But the three of us will all exchange glances when it’s time to silently share one of our inside jokes. It’s like we have a secret. I think I’ll try roast chicken for Saturday.”

2

I had a difficult time trying to picture the life of the middle-class suburban woman of the nineteen fifties. The western world was in a state of prosperity. The Second World War was over and economies were healthy. The media had a grand influence over gender roles and identities during this era through color film, advertising and television. Men were defined as breadwinners while women were to care for the household and children. These gender identities were similar to that of previous eras; however the prosperity depicted in this period perhaps created an added pressure to perfect the identities persuaded by that of popular culture.

Color film was also a new concept. Female film stars of the time began wearing more makeup on film than ever before which followed as a trend for women of that time. The makeup of the time focused mostly on pastels creating a look that glowed. Despite the soft color palettes used, make up was very much caked on due to the popularity of facial powders and cover ups.

When writing Clare’s character I wanted to address the superficial stresses of the time. Housewives of this era had grown up during the depression and war. They were familiar with suffering. However, Clare’s character shows how easy it is to forget and become consumed with problems that may have been the least of one’s worries during more difficult times. At the same time, Clare’s thought patterns shift from that of stress to pleasure as she reflects on how much fun she has with her fellow comrades. At the time, it was rare for a married woman to have ‘girls’ nights out’, or to grab a cup of coffee with a girlfriend. However, midst her concerned thoughts and daily routine, Clare takes a moment just for her to look forward to sharing a laugh with her new found friends.

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