The young woman glanced ’round her room
Portending her weary future with gloom –
“There’s nothing for me here but doom,
Why can’t I live like Everyone Else?”
The laundry, forlorn, piled high on a chair
Toys and books all scattered on stairs
Weekly meal prep ne’er brought to bear
As, she was sure, by Everyone Else.
Everyone Else always gets up at five
Meditates, caffeinates, runs 6 miles to thrive
The carpool planned, all ready to drive
Lo…it’s easy for Everyone Else.
The Everyone Else understand proper living,
Work out their plans, prioritize giving
Switch out the linens; hey it ain’t no big thing
As long as you’re Everyone Else.
So she’ll give up on trying to make all the beds,
Leave late for work, and keep in her head
All of the tasks that fill her with dread
It’s hopeless, save for Everyone Else.
The Ballad of Everyone Else, also known variously as The Song of The “Other People” and Living Like My Perfect Next-Door Neighbor Steve, is a traditional American folk lament passed down in the oral tradition since the early 1970s (although some scholars point to origins as early as 1947 with the publishing of The Good Housekeeping Housekeeping Book,* a volume surreptitiously designed to convince readers that clothing made from rayon is a good idea). Sometimes sung to various melodies, it is most often spoken in smaller, improvised phrases, as in “Everyone Else seems to have their $h!t together.”
The ballad centers on the sadness of a young mother, comparing herself, her family, and her home to a mysterious band of people known as The Everyone Else. According to accounts of those who have heard it sung or spoken live, the song resonates in particular with the tribe of women who Work Outside The Home. However, all genders have been reported to mutter it under their breath, especially in the month of December.
It is unclear from the stanzas who, exactly, the Everyone Else is. The belief in the mythological tribe began, some say, as part of a post-WWII propaganda campaign touting the ideal nuclear family. The messaging resulted in a conviction that in the midst of working 40-60 hour work weeks, taking care of children, socializing, housekeeping, exercising, breathing, brushing teeth, and planning and responsibility for most activities (especially those associated with schooling), somehow the Everyone Else never screws anything up. Characteristics attributed to them include, but are in no way limited to:
- Color-coding the contents of their closets;
- Consistently arriving five minutes early to all commitments;
- Routinely using a planner;
- But, simultaneously, never having to write anything down;
- Ironing their sheets;
- Always having a comfortable, prepared guest room;
- Grocery shopping once – and only once – per week;
- Parking two vehicles in the garage;
- Matching all of their children’s socks;
- Dusting their ceiling fans;
- Always knowing where their keys and sunglasses are;
- Remembering and celebrating the birthdays of all nuclear and extended family members, as well as close friends;
- Sending holiday cards every year;
- Volunteering snacks for every elementary class party and soccer practice;
- Keeping a variety of houseplants (including fresh basil for their family recipe Caprese salad) alive and thriving;
- Opening all their mail every day; and
- Eating all refrigerated leftovers (before growing fur).
While sociologists agree that many people are capable of engaging in more than one of these behaviors (even at the same time), it should be noted that the absolutist, idealistic lifestyle of The Everyone Else has been conclusively disproven to exist. Supposed members of the tribe, when pressed for evidence of their perfection, are simply unable to show the consistency, mental health, or lack of under-eye bags to support the assumption.
Still, The Ballad of Everyone Else remains enormously popular. Entire cottage industries have sprung up to assist in efforts to become Everyone Else, spurred on by the influence of such modern annoyances as TikTok and Instagram. Perhaps in the future, additional verses will be added that include descriptions of individuality, acceptance, and dog hair on the couch.
“Comparison is the death of true self-contentment.” – John Powell
*No slam intended on the book – I hear there are some great ideas for stain removal in it. Especially for rayon.