an Apple among Manatees

Viewers of my nascent Facebook page already know this, but I have been slightly obsessed this week ever since Cooper came home from camp with this year’s Family Directory. We are lucky enough to spend our summers in an idyllic setting where many jetsetters also park their jet-sets. Our family does very little hobnobbing with said set, because we basically never leave our house. I have much guilt about having gone to the beach, which is two miles away, exactly twice so far this summer. (Fergus has managed to get there three times.) “It won’t always be like this,” I tell myself. “I won’t always have frantic days that run from 5am-7:30pm without a break.” Am I fooling myself? Veteran moms might be laughing at my naivete, who knows.

But I digress. The Jet Set. We can count on seeing Kelly Ripa and dreamy Mark Consuelos with their three kids at 10:00 Mass every Sunday. In fact, that may be the main motivation for getting there. But that’s as close to the really exciting celebrity world as we really get. Until now.

I perused Cooper’s Family Directory, looking at the names of the other “Manatees” (read: 5 year olds) for anyone familiar, or who might be an interesting neighbor for playdates. No one caught my eye in the Manatees I category. Then I glanced at the Manatees II page, and there, right at the bottom, it said:

CHILD: Apple Martin
PARENT: Gwyneth Martin

No address or contact phone, I mean of course not.
My God it couldn’t be! But it was. Apple, THE Apple, was in the OTHER group of 5 year olds at Cooper’s camp.

My first thought was: My God, is Apple five already? Like she was my niece or something. Thanks to Us Weekly, I probably have seen more pictures of Apple than I have of my actual nieces, and I love how famous moms always carry their kids around who are way too big to be carried, by the way. Exhibit B:

Kate and Ryder

He’s almost as tall as she is. Are celebrity children’s limbs atrophied? Should we, as a nation, be addressing this?

Back to Apple. It was a little devastating that she was Manatees II and Cooper was Manatees I. But maybe they had met, nonetheless! Maybe they were mingling at the Tuesday morning puppet show! I investigated, trying to act casual:

MOMMY: Hey, Cooper. Do you know a girl named Apple at camp?
COOPER: That’s a REALLY weird name.
MOMMY: Oh, I don’t think so at all! I really like it!

I do think it’s a weird name, of course, who doesn’t, but I felt the need to defend it so that when Gwyneth and I became best mommy friends Cooper wouldn’t blurt out “My mommy thinks your name is weird” while he and Apple skipped across our backyard.

At dropoff for the rest of the week, I was walking SLOOOWWWLY past Manatees II, lingering casually in front of their doorway, trying to catch a glimpse of Gwyneth and Apple. If only either of them could see how cool I was I knew we would be friends forever. No luck. Finally, another camp mom who saw my Facebook page had to let me down easy. “Actually, Apple’s not here,” she said, “because well, I kind of know Gwyneth, and she signed her up for like three camps and then sent her to none of them.”

Oh, how casually that rolled off her tongue! “I kind of know Gwyneth.” How I wish I could say that! Although I’m not sure why. OK, I’ll say it, I’m kind of obsessed with Gwyneth Paltrow, because she is a mom of two who actually seems to enjoy being with her children, AND an Oscar-winning actress who has people begging her to be in their movies, and she gets free clothes messengered to her every day, and her long blonde hair appears never to frizz.

But then I read magazine interviews with her, all of which take the tack of “Gwyneth Paltrow so does not care about being famous and stuff, and here she is in an $11,000 couture gown, and here is a picture of her with Madonna.” And she’ll always say something that really makes you kind of hate her. I just read one at the hair salon where she said “Do you think it’s easy to have a body like mine? It is very hard to have a body like mine, when you’re a mother, and I have to work very hard at it.” And I think she’s trying to be all honest and woman of the people, saying that, but it definitely comes off as… ewww. Also she did an interview right after 9/11 when she talked about how hard it was for her personally to be in New York City, and how her parents convinced her right away to charter a private plane and get to Jamaica, which she did. While all the average schmucks were hitchhiking from Dallas to Minneapolis because no planes were flying.

Even so, I love her, I can’t deny it. I’m better off not “kind of knowing her,” not even seeing her in real life. I love the idea of her living in the pages of magazines, with nary a hair out of place, signing her children up for three camps and then doing something much more glamorous instead. I love her, because despite her statements to the contrary, she is totally, utterly, NOTHING like me.