Sunday, June 24, 2007

The esctasty and agony of living childfree

No kidding
Andrea and Peter drove north to the Denver-based club, where they would go out to dinner or concerts with a loose assemblage of non-parents. Eventually, when the Colorado coordinator stepped down, Andrea took his place. Denver Metro No Kidding! now has 347 online members, with a handful of newcomers joining each month.

Andrea and Peter live in Colorado Springs, and host some of the best-attended events. At a recent costume party, Andrea asked guests to dress up as superheroes. Many came in costumes based on their strengths. She went as Grammar Girl, a takeoff on her English instruction master's program. Peter, who always dresses for the weather, wore layers. Another person was "Esposo Fabuloso," the fabulous spouse. Nobody, of course, dressed as Best Mom or Dad.

"No Kidding! gives me a relevant social life," says Peter. "When you're a minority, it's easy to feel that you are isolated and the people around you don't share your experience. Especially in Colorado Springs."

The kidless choice

Colorado Springs is unabashedly kid-centric. Up north, Focus on the Family and New Life Church glorify parenthood, while suburban sprawl accommodates ever-growing families and their litany of plastic slides, basketball hoops, sandboxes and kiddie pools. Downtown, the Uncle Wilber Fountain serves as the city's literal and figurative core, with hundreds of children splashing in the summer months. Bars and clubs might open their doors in the evenings, but so do the ice cream shops and the pizzerias.

Families in Colorado Springs pull major political weight. New U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn ran on a pro-child platform, touting his "reputation of being a strong family man," as his Web site reads. When he won last November's election, Republican supporters gathered in Mr. Biggs Family Fun Center to celebrate. The adults washed down rum and colas while their children played on plastic inflatable slides in the adjacent room.

Colorado Springs' kid fever has people like Andrea and Peter feeling like uninvited party guests.

"Many of them have to be in the closet," says Vincent Ciaccio, a spokesperson for No Kidding!'s national chapter, speaking of childfree couples in conservative cities. "They can't tell people � otherwise, they have a huge backlash against them."
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