August 18, 2006

Anonymous Celebrity Parents: Except For All The Free Stuff, They're Just Like Us!

cocktail_umbrellas.jpgEven when I'm getting stiff-armed at the driveways of publicists' swag-filled beach houses, some aspects of my non-dadblogging life still put celebrities in my path. No so much hanging out, mind you, just running into. If they have kids, we've chatted about kids.

Face to face in normal parentchat mode, I find that my empathy as a parent always wins out over any kind of reporting or publicity-seeking urges, and I usually end up offering to never mention them and their kids on the site. It's a gesture which, even when they appreciate it, I think we both realize is like offering the umbrella from your mai tai to someone standing in the rain.

One time, after telling one guy about how a store we both shopped at had leaked details of his recent stroller shopping visit ["Can't a man shop for a stroller in peace?"], I realized there was something useful I could offer these parents: anonymity.

Some had taken it already. I was surprised a couple of times when celebrities said they knew the site; and one told me he had even sent in a comment. Except that why not? It should just be a totally normal thing, right?

Anyway, since the strollershopping story about 18 months ago, I've been collecting anonymous celebrity parent tips and stories for Daddy Types. They all come from my direct conversations or emails, and they all involve people you would recognize. In order to keep them anonymous, I've stripped out dates and sometimes genders and locations, any potentially identifying details. And if that means not publishing a story at all, that's fine.

If some answers to questions about indispensible gear ["Get them riding on the Buggy Board ASAP, That thing was a lifesaver."] sound like they could have come from any random guy with two kids and a Bugaboo, that's precisely the point.

My idea is not so much to create a suck-uppy haven for the rich & famous & spawning, so much as it is to call into question the assumptions and perceptions underpinning the whole Celebrity Parent Industrial Complex. Practically every single product or book or piece of advice that crosses my Daddy Types desk includes some reference to celebrity parents, and that seems out of whack to me. Given this pervasiveness, wilfully ignoring the issue or taking some imaginary high road seems somehow incomplete or fantastical. Meanwhile mocking it all, while momentarily amusing, usually just ends up perpetuating the hype cycle, and it sometimes makes me feel like a bit of a tool. So let's see if this bit of media jiujitsu works, or if I end up just looking like a dorky celebrity kiss-ass instead:

Daddy Types: So you bought the Bugaboo? Didn't they send one?
Anonymous Celebrity Dad: We bought the first one, and then someone sent one when the new models came out.
DT: How many strollers have you gotten so far?
ACD: [pauses to count in head] like half a dozen or so. We've made use of all of them, though, quite honestly.
DT: Do you get a lot of gear, too? What stuff do people send you?
ACD: Some, yeah, but mostly clothes. We get a lot of clothes.
DT: Which goes straight on eBay.
ACD: [courtesy laugh] No, we definitely use stuff, or we give it away. People in the office take it.
DT: It's really just like a muffin basket. [OK, I only thought of that afterward.]


As a Celebrity in my household (bordering on Super Hero Status - the red and blue tights are on backorder), I would say that your attempt does not go without merit.

Celebrity: 1 bought & 6+ free strollers
Me: 1 bought stroller
Celebrity 1 Terry 0

Celebrity: Lots of Clothes
Me: Asked for NOT clothes and got lots of Clothes
PUSH:Celebrity 1 Terry 0

Celebrity: Donating used and extra clothes
Me: Donating used and extra clothes
Celebrity 2 Terry 1

Yeah, so apart from the free stuff... they're pretty normal

I must confess. MetroDad is a moniker that I use to hide my true identity. In reality, I am none other than Kim Jong-il. And the only free stuff I get is made in China and breaks down 2 weeks later. I thought someone sent me a Bugaboo once but, upon closer inspection, it was actually Rugaroo.

[and all this time, I thought you used it so you wouldn't get fired from your gig on Sprout. -ed.]

Wow. So it is possible some celebrity has clicked through to my blog and read about my daughter saying "more boogers, dad!"

I think daddytypes should be a clearing house for all the free stuff celebs get and want to get rid of. I'm ready to plop down $100 for a spare Bugaboo.

[no, wait, you're supposed to be LESS excited! Oh, this isn't working at all... -ed.]

I'm with Kaz! You celebrity parents can hook me up with your last-years-model bugaboo anytime!

Then again, maybe I am one of the daddytypes secret celebrity fanbase with a half dozen strollers to spare; I'm only pretending to be a klutzy, chubby, losing-my-mind mama. I am pretty much the exact opposite of Jennifer Garner. If normal people have superheros as alter egos and vice versa, then maybe I just am Jennifer Garner. My husband sure wouldn't mind...

I still think that the world is such a whacked out place that those that can afford things, don't have to pay for them. At least with the baby gear, celebs can and do use and/or pass it on like us regular folks do, too. Now, if I could only get $1000 restaurant meals comped, too...

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