Mr. Squiggle's Wonder Emporium: Being Dad Zero at Mom 2.0 - Part 1

*This is the first in a three-part series about this outsider's brief experience at the Mom 2.0 Summit held in Houston, February 18 - 20th

Part 1: Mr. Lady, The Redneck Mommy, The Bloggess and other stars

So there I was on a Friday, just minding my own business when a text message lit up my phone. “Do you want to go with me to Mom 2.0 tonight?” It was from Mr. Lady and as a testament to her generosity, she was offering to act as my blogging sugar momma for the evening despite joining a growing litany of bloggers who have met me in person only to realize I am far less interesting in the flesh than on Clark Kent’s Lunchbox (hence my real duel identity).

Of course the great irony in all this is that not twenty minutes before, I had been exchanging emails with stay-at-home dad advocate and RebelDad writer, Brian Reid, about both the lack of equal consideration given to dad bloggers and our shared concern that parent blogging is becoming increasingly synonymous with consumerism. Now, it appeared that I would soon be cavorting with the same contingent of mommy bloggers I claim to “hate” so much.

Enroute to the event, Mr. Lady suggested we stop for shots, or as she referred to it, “liquid courage.” After all, her site is called Whiskey In My Sippy Cup; still, why anyone of Mr. Lady’s stature and talent would need two shots of the stuff as a prerequisite to meeting her peers was beyond me. Here’s a woman who was among Babble’s "Top 50 Mommy Bloggers," who was approached by a major literary agency to write a book, and who, by the virtue of a single, gut-wrenchingly honest post, has become a regular speaker at BlogHer.

Most bloggers can only dream of such achievements, and yet for all her accolades, Mr. Lady seems unaffected. This is not to imply that she isn’t proud of her accomplishments, but she sees them for what they are without taking herself too seriously. In fact, it wasn’t until her appearance at BlogHer that Mr. Lady even realized there was such a thing as a mommy blog. Before then, the majority of her audience consisted of computer geeks drawn to her coolness and political conservatives fond of her intelligent liberal debates. Today, even with the mommy blog label, she is pleased to say this is still the case.

Despite my matching Mr. Lady’s whiskey with two shots of tequila (daddy blogging has made me a lightweight), it wasn’t enough to smooth out my awkward interaction which was the conversational equivalent of a child’s uneven leaps as they attempt to avoid the cracks that are said to inflict spinal injuries on their mothers. By contrast, Mr. Lady was at complete ease, being used to going back and forth with all types of people throughout the blogosphere, and as we talked, she provided a rundown on various friends of hers that we were about to join shortly. This unobtrusive exposé included a behind-the-(computer)screen glimpse as to which blogs fully represent the personas of their creators, and which show only a small facet of an even more complex person at the keyboard. In either of these cases, what remained a unified constant was that both types of bloggers retained an authenticity in their voices that resonated just as equally with the large readerships they have earned over the years.

After drinks we headed to meet the group at FotoFest where the Defining a Movement exhibit was being held. As I stepped out of the car, the liveliness of the party inside was evident based on the volume of conversation flooding the parking lot with the same intensity as the light that emanated from large bay doors leading to the former warehouse turned gallery. That volume jumped a notch as soon as Mr. Lady walked in. She needed no introduction, nor did she need an official Mom 2.0 name badge worn by the summit’s attendees. Quite frankly, given the all-star collection of bloggers in the room, no one did (well, except me that is).

Before being swallowed up by her eager crowd of friends, Mr. Lady introduced me to her virtual sister, the charmingly charismatic Tanis of Redneck Mommy fame. After a brief exchange, Tanis offered to escort me around by asking which moms I’d like to meet. Admittedly, I felt a little overwhelmed by the opportunity, but I gathered my bearing in mentioning Greeblemonkey. A year earlier, I won her inaugural photo contest and thought it would be nice to thank her again in person; plus we share an admiration for the local Denver band The Autumn Film. However, she was nowhere in sight. What about Finslippy? Not in the area either.

Oh, I know—my neighbor across town, The Bloggess who as fate would have it, just happened to be passing by us. Three seconds latter I was face to face with one of the funniest ladies in the blogosphere, but, I’m afraid my enthusiasm over the moment must have made me seem as if I had yelled “boo” while jumping out of pantry based on the surprised expression on The Bloggess’s face. (Don’t let the curlers fool you; she’s a pretty lady.)

But alas, the reputation of Clark Kent’s Lunchbox hardly measures up to the likes of The Redneck Mommy and The Bloggess, and they both were quickly absorbed into the circles of conversation swirling around us. This, of course, was fine. I had no intention of making anyone feel they needed to babysit me, especially moms who were enjoying a few days away from their parental duties. Instead I bantered with Julie Marsh of The Mom Slant about my day job as a male escort (read why she's not a "mommy blogger"), and I had my picture taken by another Houstonian notable, Imelda Bettinger (she’s a keen photographer and not because she kept me from blinking).

At this point, it occurred to me that I was "through the looking glass" so to speak, with some of the most vaunted names in the parenting blogosphere standing only feet away, no longer as names, but as people. The thought made me chuckle. Then I strolled through the exhibit’s collection of impressive photographs, and in doing so, reverted to what I normally am when it comes to these ladies’ blogs—a lurker.

Tomorrow Part 2: Finslippy, Mightygirl and how I become Mr. Squiggle

Mr. Lady photo and The Redneck Mommy logo are from Babble's "Top 50 Mommy Bloggers." The Bloggess's photo courtesy of A Good Husband

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