Measured Extravagance

2001-06-03 - 3:23 p.m.

Another stop at Cafe Depresso, for a glass of "Pharaoh's Cup" tea to clear out the grease and sugar in my digestive system, and a mini-rant on this iMac to clear out the slow burn in my brain.

The slow burn got ignited by this comment from a friend: "I guess a dog is a good substitute for a child."

I really ought to be used to this by now: when you reject a social norm, you should expect to be dismissed or misunderstood, no matter how logical or valid your reasons. I know this, and I'm usually resigned to it - but nevertheless, it's isn't exactly fun being patronized by strangers, and it's somehow worse coming from one of my closest friends.

Saz asked me why the comparison bothered me so much: "Dogs and children are both responsibilities, aren't they?"

The gist of my rambling, semi-articulate response: "They're not the same responsibility, dammit! I don't have a dog because I won't or can't have a child; I have a dog because that's the kind of companion I enjoy. The dog isn't a consolation prize for my deprived maternal feelings - it's a different relationship altogether. I can be with my dog for hours without feeling like I'm sacrificing my privacy, and I can be away from my dog for hours without my neighbors bringing down the wrath of Social Services upon me. . . "

I should be saying this directly to the friend who made the comment, perhaps, but to bring it up again would be to flog a horse that's already bolted for the fields. It was a throwaway remark that wasn't intended as an insult, and ultimately, it's an honest reflection of her values: before becoming pregnant, she'd lamented feeling like a failure because she wasn't a mother. So, should it be so surprising or hurtful if she does indeed think less of me because I've rejected a role that's been vital to her own self-esteem - and should it matter, given that she respects me and accepts me in so many other ways?

Honestly? It does in fact sting, but not too much. It matters, but not enough to make a difference. There are things I'll never understand about her either, but I'm still looking forward to dancing at her daughter's wedding -- or commitment ceremony, or permanently-single-but-it's time-for-a-housewarming-anyway party. . .

On a more amusing note, I spent dinner reading through an adaptation of Dario Fo's The Abduction of Diana, and it turned out to be a scream. (I especially enjoyed the schtick with "Kidnapper #2" and the fridge. . .) I drifted slowly through the preface to On Pilgrimage before falling asleep, and in the hours between, there was cabernet and chocolate and resisting the blandishment of friends wanting to hit a show at "Nasty's" (the very appropriate nickname of their favorite dive bar).

And now it's off to a stroll around Ann Arbor (how this town keeps changing - there wasn't a Ben and Jerry's or Italian restaurant on this street when I was here last), and then dinner with another set of friends. It's tricky, this being with people - it's invigorating and draining all at once. I'm excited about dinner (seven people all scheduling their Sunday around me - hell, of course it's good for my ego!), but I'm also looking forward to having the remainder of my evening to myself.

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