Question: if Meg Wolitzer is going to call writers like Helen Fielding, Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes and "a couple of the others whose names, to tell the truth, I never quite remember" the Pink Ladies, do you think it would be okay if I called writers like her, and Elinor Lipman, and Cathleen Schine, and whatsherface, you know, the one who wrote that one novel with waves on the cover, the Gray Ladies?

I think it fits: they're older than the chick-litters, they publish short stories in the toniest places, they teach writing at all of the fanciest schools, and their books get reviewed in the Gray Lady herself, the Times.

The Gray Ladies! Who's with me?

Today was play group. I love play group. Normally the group leader brings in reprints of articles on edifying subjects like solitary play and toilet training, and one of the mothers -- usually me -- steers the discussion to pertinent questions of the day, such as "does anyone else feel weird taking a stroller into the liquor store?"

This is a Pennsylvania idiosyncrasy. In other states, you can buy beer and wine and even liquor in the supermarket. Here in the cradle of liberty, if you want beer, you can buy it at a bar or a restaurant that's got a permit to sell it, and if you want wine or liquor, you have to go to a state store, where there's no pretense that you're shopping for anything but booze.

I feel weird taking the baby to the state store -- like there's a giant sign reading "ALKIE MOM" flashing over my head, even when I'm doing something like buying a bottle of wine to take to dinner at someone's house. It just feels strange. (This might have to do with the nature of the state store in my neighborhood, where I'm usually in line behind a homeless guy buying a pint of rum, and paying with pennies).

Jen