In With The “Out” Crowd
BY LORRAINE DUFFY MERKL
This is the time of year when What’s In/What’s Out lists abound. Jill Kargman is “in,” so, in my mind anyway, this designates me as “out.”
I don’t mean in my day-to-day life, but more in the existential sense, aka when people start to age-out of feeling visible. The catalyst for this is Kargman, the creator of the hit Bravo TV show “Odd Mom Out.”
With her star soaring, the 42-year-old writer/actress seems to be everywhere, as in magazines, newspapers, talk shows, and podcasts. While she awaits the return of the series’ third season this spring, Kargman is on a book tour for her new essay collection, “Sprinkle Glitter on My Grave,” which picks up where her last nonfiction book, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut,” left off.
I first became aware of her in 2007, when she wrote the novel, “Momzillas.”
At the time, my son Luke and my daughter Meg were 12 and 9, respectively. I was also a NYC mom, a year into writing a column for a local newspaper, which touched on the same subjects that Kargman wrote about. Make no mistake, I’m not implying that bitch stole my thunder. To the contrary, there was a plethora of columns, novels, memoirs, and nonfiction advice books on the stressful, competitive nature of being a mother in Manhattan. Kargman’s just stood apart from the pack.
In fact, when I read “Momzillas,” all I could think was, Yeah, she nailed it.
With my interest piqued, not only by her storytelling but by her hip, chatty writing style, I read several of her subsequent books over the years. I got excited about her new TV show because as a new mom, I myself had felt like the odd mom, either forgoing some of the things that other mothers considered de rigueur, like toddler Japanese classes; or begrudgingly throwing an over-the-top birthday party and feeling resentment that I went along with a practice I thought was ridiculous.
Beyond that though, I was attracted to Kargman herself. Even though I now have salt & pepper hair and rather preppy wardrobe, in the ‘90s I had a goth-meets-Snow White look (pale skin/jet black hair), making the author-turned-screenwriter my one-time doppelganger. She also, like me, has a native New Yorker tell-it-like-it-is way, except she grew up on the Upper East Side and her father was president Chanel, which was a far cry from my Bronx upbringing with a single mother. Kargman also seems to have no snobbery in her at all, wearing a pair of designer shoes with a pair of pants from H&M, something I do too; hi-lo dressing, I believe the fashion industry calls it.
So why has Jill Kargman gone from someone I admired into someone who I feel has hip-checked me out of the NY mom spotlight? I guess it’s because there comes a point when you realize it’s the next-generation’s turn, and the Bravo It Girl is my reminder that my turn is coming to an end.
The thing is though, that when someone in that younger generation steps into your shoes, they seem to act like they invented whatever it is they’re doing, rather than following in the footsteps of others.
I remember working a freelance job where a 20-something woman explained to me how she always wore only black, in a way that implied she was the first to ever do so.
I got the same vibe—real or imagined—listening to Kargman talk about her Morticia Addams wardrobe, as well as trying to give her kids good educations and nice things, yet keep them off the Upper East Side “Gossip Girl” track; and, of course, share the stories of the moms who have the nannies raise their kids so they can go shopping at Barney’s before lunch at Nellos.
I have this overwhelming desire to run after her, if I ever were to see her on the street, and yell, “I did all that too, in my Vampira wardrobe, and experienced all the stuff with other moms before you did because I’m older…”
I’m sure Kargman’s reaction would be to say, while dialing 911 on her cell, “Um, OK, who said you didn’t?” She would have every right to think I was losin’ it, because that’s what you do when you start to feel the “out” in odd mom.