banter | SUBURBANOLOGY
Montgomery County Public Schools.
She packs her own two children’s school
lunch bags with little packets of prepor-tioned cookies because that’s so much
easier than opening a big package of
sweets, putting a few cookies in small
baggies, then resealing the big cookie
bag. She’s never calculated how much
extra money it costs to buy the individual kid-size cookie packets. She doesn’t
have the time.
Manisha Katsnelson, 36, of Silver
Spring wouldn’t dream of buying a whole
watermelon for her two kids. ;at would
entail washing it, cutting it up, throwing
away the rind and cleaning up the mess.
It’s so much more pleasant to buy precut
watermelon, says Katsnelson, who works
for a nonprofit freight company that
transfers humanitarian aid supplies.
When one of her kids wants a quick
snack, she says, “I can just pop a little
piece of watermelon in their mouth.”
Katsnelson grew up in a Maryland
household where she and her four sib-
lings did chores and her parents wouldn’t
buy anything unless it was on sale and/or
they had a coupon for it, she says. Now
she and her husband do something her
parents never would have: ;ey pay
someone to cut their lawn twice weekly
in the growing season.
I was walking in Bethesda’s Edgemoor neighborhood this past spring
when I stopped suddenly and wished
I’d brought a camera with a wide-angle
lens. Up and down both sides of the
block and around the cul-de-sac, every
property was busy with work crews.
;ere were construction crews, house
painters, landscapers and a mobile car
detailer. In the coming weeks, work
crews all around the area will be doing
what used to be a fun family activity:
decorating the front yard for the holi-
days. I always wonder where the family
is while strangers are festooning their
property, installing giant plastic meno-
rahs, blowing up snowmen or wrapping
red tinsel around white columns to make
candy stripes. ;e family might well be
inside binge-watching Game of ;rones.
Barbara Clapman, 73, doesn’t believe
people are as busy as they think they are.
Clapman and her husband moved to
Bethesda two years ago to be near two
adult children and four grandchildren.
“People have lost touch with how to do
things for themselves,” she says. “Even
things that are simple seem to take too
long.” She blames the internet—from
nonstop emails to the nonstop streaming
of entertainment. “It’s very seductive, and
it cuts into time for real life,” she says.
I’ve lost track of how many British mysteries my husband and I have