July 22, 2009
Have you ever thought about freezing your eggs? When are you going to get married? What was wrong with your last boyfriend? These are the kinds of interminable questions unmarried women over the age of thirty are subjected to. Just yesterday my father asked me for the umpteenth time if I would ever find a husband. “When I meet someone I can bear to spend the rest of my life with,” I answered. “There are so many schmucks out there, at the moment I am disinclined to commit to just one.” He smiled and rolled his eyes. I suppose my father wants me to be in good, capable hands. I don”t think he understands how rare men like him are these days. I imagine he thinks there might be something wrong with me. Sometimes I think there is something wrong with me. But then I remember that what I am holding out for is not unrealistic. Nor is it worth giving up on in order to avoid being a wrinkly bride, and a thorn in my father’s side.
Just last weekend I found myself at a garden party on the grounds of a divine castle in the English countryside. The host and hostess were playing tennis. Their five-year-old daughter was playing the role of ball girl. The lady of the house looked morose. My friend implied there were problems in the marriage. Then, to my surprise, the little girl ran over and punched my pal in the stomach. “This one is violent,” he said with a grin. No kidding. Every time she saw a man, she would run over and punch him in the gut. Then everyone would laugh. Her father was often the target of this routine. Was this a game, or, an English tradition? Were these women being mistreated, or non compos mentis? Why were they so upset with everyone? Maybe, like her daughter, the mother was laughed at as a child, and seen as more of a toy than a person.
This may not happen to my progeny, or to me, but I would be remiss not to consider the possibility. I suppose some people have healthy, loving relationships that produce well-adjusted offspring. Others marry for money, or position, or because they can”t stand to be alone. Whatever the arrangement, I don”t have a problem with marriage per se. But, after a handful of failed relationships, I can only ever see myself as part of a couple if it were a mature and benign partnership. Unfortunately, I don”t know many people capable of mature and benign romance. Come to think of it, I know very few people who even like the person they”re with. When children suffer because a relationship is amateurish, I want to put the parents on the barbeque stool.
In consideration of the other realities facing my potential brood, my desire for betrothal is dampened further. There are roughly 6.7 billion people on the planet today. This number will likely double before the end of the century. Which will certainly generate a scramble for resources. Whether the threat of extinction will be real, or perceived, I cannot say. But I do wonder, is this the world we want to live in? What must we do to provide the sort of environment that will not make our children apoplectic, or apathetic?
For the Carrie Bradshaw lot, I guess it comes down to whether or not we are strong enough to settle for nothing less than truly healthy relationships. Sometimes I wonder if I am up to the task. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is up to the task. Of course I want to please my pop. But in truth, I am doing everything I can to fend off any old maniac with a castle and a crown. I hope my children will thank me for it someday.