Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sometimes, the answer is just no.

I had a birthday this week, and with it came the usual ruminations on life and its various trials and tribulations. I decided to throw myself a party where I gave out complimentary drink tickets and spent a ton on food and drinks and handmade invitations, because I think more and more that I am not going to get married. Well, let me rephrase that, I don't plan on a silly "traditional" (whatever THAT means) mnarriage cermemony for my wedding, if I have one at all. They simply do not appeal to me.

As we sat out on her deck and ate supper the other night, Sara Jo asked me what my favorite wedding was that I had ever been to and I was stumped. I mean, I loved seeing the people who I was close to being happy so there were no losers in the bunch, per se. But I wasn't totally thrilled with any of them either. The last wedding I went to had an alcohol cut off so that dampened the fun significantly, obviously. I guess I feel that weddings tend to turn into "grown up proms" and that the wrong things get focused on. It becomes about showing off to people, submitting yourself to judgment, doing what everyone else thinks is right, demanding useless presents, and just being a stupid consumer and feeding into the corporate machine. Do you really mean to tell me that because you spent $30,000 on a cookie cutter church ceremony that that means the commitment you have with your partner is that much more superior? I don't buy it, literally. All those ideals were fed to you by an industry that profits from you acting like a money squandering loon hellbent on buying romance, happiness and status. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that to me seems to contain nothing remotely close to celebrating love.

Sara Jo wanted to discuss a book she'd read some quotes from, I Don't: A Contrarian View On Marriage, by Susan Squire. She was appalled by the what she had found out, which was that the true symbolism of giving away the bride by her father was not at all kind, sweet, touching or cute, but in fact signified nothing less than property being passed between two men (IE, dowry). Myself being the angry feminist cynic, I was in the know. But I think often women, even the smartest of us, don't question why these things happen and continue to give them power by not doing so. For example, why diamond rings? Why not something else? How did that come to pass? This excellent column from by Ken Mondschein may really upset some people. Good. I hope so. You should be upset, because everyone should know that newly purchased diamonds are clearly for dimwits.

Back to the beginning: I was glad to throw that kind of shindig for my party, I like being generous. Why wait around for a wedding to celebrate how much you love the people in your life? Why wait to force them to stare at you in some overpriced silly dress for hours on end like it's some sort of miracle that you put on a bunch of satin? Seems lame. Now, getting them all drunk, stuffed full of food and making them dance up a storm, THAT is what appeals to me. So if I ever do decide to commit, that's what I think I'd like to focus on. Not on me, or how much cash I can shit out, or how fakey sicky sweet I can appear during the "Daddy Daughter dance" (bleech), and so on and so forth. None of that.

Now, this line of relationship thinking also inevitably leads to me wondering about kids. This is the first year I have been really unsure about them. I do like kids, I think I want to have one....I think? Then I read how some poor girl was sexually assaulted by a nut job and am convinced I do not want to bring another human into the world for fear they'd have to deal with that or worse yet, that they'd do that. I would have the serial killer kid that murdered the class gerbil, just my luck!

So this was all rattling around in my mostly empty head this morning as I was getting dressed for work, half-heartedly listening to the radio. Then I heard a really compelling guest discussing his new book on the Brian Leherer show (an AM NPR fave). The book is called The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment. Its co-author, Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich, was talking about a prospect that truly fascinates me, population control. All of the sudden I started to focus less on the fact that I'm not sure about kids yet and instead on the fact that we're (meaning specifically the Western world for this instance) ruining the earth with the selfish need to procreate...because it is, when you really look at it, selfish. People AGAIN don't think, they just do and too often, to boot as the population numbers soar. I understand if you've ALWAYS wanted kids, I guess...but can't you just adopt? People who whine that it's not the same, to me, seem like they're treating children like one more possession by saying that parenting is fundamentally invalid unless the child is but another product to be-yep-consumed. Freaks me out. All of this. This is why I drink so much. Anyways, now I feel guilty about having kids at all. Maybe I should just adopt one of my friend's kids and be the batty old aunt that sends them ridiculously expensive gifts that their folks would never dream of spoiling them with? I'm cool with it. After all, it takes a village to raise a child. I can be the part of the village that doesn't have to put up with being shit on , yelled at, or woken up at 3 am by cops dragging my drunk offspring home from getting caught dry humping on a park bench. I like the sound of that.

Lastly, I just saw this really interesting essay via my beloved Jezebel about a 24 year old woman opting, without apology, for a new form of sterilization. The whole piece- and ensuing comments- is/are quite thought provoking. And this, in conjunction with the aforementioned book have me really pondering away. Hopefully if you're reading this yammering, so are you.

Or not. You could ignore this, say I'm full of it, that you're having your Catholic wedding and your 2.5 kids (allowing for miscarriage there) and that I'm a crackpot. Your choice.

But at least I feel like I'm MAKING one, or thinking about making one...instead of letting one be made for me.


Giulia said...

I love you.

Brandi said...

I never knew you were such a feminista! I've long worried about the moral basis for having kids. One one hand, I do one day want a small doppelganger around to entertain me. On the other hand, does the world really need another frizzy-haired, organic-veggie-eating, brainwashed consumerist breathin up all the good oxygen, when there are millions of hungry little mouths to demand I buy them sexy barbie dolls and hoochie halloween costumes already out there? I worry that the only way I can procreate guilt-free is if I offset each birth with trendy foreign counterparts, a la the Pitt-Jolies.

anne altman said...

i love you too, barbs.

just got back from the wedding of the century, which, i might add, was the best i've ever been to, traditional enough to be recognizable, non traditional enough to be fun and interesting. who walks up the "aisle" (made of hay) to Charlie Brown? my sister.

plus, after my Best Broad speech --where I toasted my sis and joked about her poor taste getting married before the older sister did--someone came up to me and said they thought i was the younger sister.

woooooooooo Hooooooooooooo?!