The Busybodying of America
Over the weekend, when we weren’t thinking about what everybody else is thinking about, we found ourself thinking about people who don’t know us, but who think about us nonetheless.
The first is Mark T. Mitchell, who is married with three sons, and who is disturbed by our bachelorhood:
Living alone can lead to a disposition that I am center of the universe, which is precisely the false notion held by children and which parents spend plenty of time countering. If I live alone, when I eat, sleep, brush my teeth, and exercise I must ask leave of no one and can to exactly as I please. I never have to make a meal out of something I despise because it is the favorite of someone else. I don’t have to get up in the night to help a sick roommate or spouse, to rub a sore back, fetch a glass of water, or get an extra blanket to stave of the chills of fever. If I do any of these things, it is solely for myself and no other. My schedule is my own and my life is arranged so that I need to defer to no one. As attractive as all this might sound (and I can admit the attraction), I’m not sure it’s healthy.
It’s extremely rare that we have the curious pleasure of a complete stranger questioning our lifestyle, but we can assure Mr. Mitchell that our life is no less healthy than that of those who question the lifestyles of complete strangers.
Plus, we sleep in every day, which is a lot healthier than setting an alarm.
The second example is Walter Russell Mead, who isn’t satisfied just to question our lifestyle, but is eager to bring our parents into it:
The intensity of the partnership between the parents didn’t fade away completely in the 20th century, but the separation of work and home inevitably reduced the centrality of the pair bond in the lives of both halves of the couple…
If we wonder why marriage isn’t as healthy today in many cases, one reason is surely that the increasing separation of the family from the vital currents of economic and social life dramatically reduces the importance of the bond to both spouses — and to the kids.
As it happens, both our parents worked their entire working lives, while raising two kids. The term wasn’t yet invented, but we were a latchkey kid once we outgrew the after-school babysitter, yet it didn’t diminish the importance of having someone around to pay our allowance. We can’t speak for every Middle American mid-century family, but ours seems to have survived — and the “pair bond” between our parents will soon be celebrating its sixtieth anniversary.
There’s nothing special about Mr. Mitchell or Mr. Mead, other than their knack for getting blockquoted by Andrew Sullivan. But what strikes us about their vapid observations is that they are a genteel form of the political observations that everybody is thinking about: The American need to nose into the sexual habits and romantic attractions of their countrymen and countrywomen.
We just can’t help but be concerned about what our neighbors are doing behind closed doors, because it might not meet our exacting and eccentric standards. And if there’s the slightest deviation from the standards of [insert preferred historical era here], then we have a problem.
Never mind that the “standards” of any given era are just averages that obscure a lot of exceptions.
Societies evolve. Lifestyles evolve. At any given moment, billions of people are trying to make the best of a bizarre condition called Living on Earth. And however troubling their choices seem today, rest assured that in sixty years, today will be the standard by which our descendants pointedly judge each other.
[via Sully and Sully]
And for God’s sakes, Nojo… when are you going to give me some grand children? Look at me! Look at what you’re doing to your poor mother. I go to sleep crying every night.
What ever happened to that girl Emily? She was such a nice girl. I really liked Emily. Why don’t you give her a call? Or Sandra or Judy or any of those girls you ran away from as soon as they started looking for commitment. Ugh… you’re giving me an aneurism. You never call, and then when you do you give your poor mother an aneurism. What did I ever do to deserve this?
If their mindset is anything like my very soon to be ex housemate’s then it’s more jealousy masked as concern trolling.
Married with children (or without) people don’t have have the time or the energy to ponder even a second about the lifestyles of the single. When I was in a relationship I cared not about the evilness of the life of my single friends.
@Serolf Divad: The mother of every gay man at some point has said to her son “This will kill your father.” Unfortunately it never does.
I’m seeing an ad for sperm donors. What word do you think that keyed off of?
It’s earthquake weather this morning – a 4.3 at 5:35 am! Rockin’ and rollin’ on the Hayward fault.
Meanwhile, will MellBell be able to organize the Fourth (Fifth?) Annual Stinque March Madness bracket?
Mrs. Kravitz was one of the best parts of that show.
@Dodgerblue: I’m getting one for a life-alert necklace.
@Dodgerblue: The presence here of Catt.
@Benedick: Hey! A girl has to make money somehow…
@SanFranLefty: Yes! As you recall, I beat you all at not winning last year, except for the few of you I actually beat(ha-ha!). I fully expect to win again this year.
@SanFranLefty: I was peacefully dreaming about bike riding on a mountain trail, then I almost get bounced out of bed by a quake centered a mile from my house.
Scared and confused the shit out of me. No real damage done.
In other news, we have a Darwin Awards honorary mention candidate. SUV (yes, it had to be an SUV) doughnuts its way into SF Bay.
@Walking Still: Providing false information to a police officer? The cops expected him to give his real name after spinning his SUV into the Bay? “Bond. James Bond.”
Political Intel – do with it what you wish.
A friend’s cousin works for a House committee as minority legal counsel. The word among staffers is that the Dems could retake the House, which they say is verified by polling. It’s to the point that staffers are already prepping the post-election agenda. I know my friend’s source and I believe the source to be credible.
@Dodgerblue: Back from the beer garden?
I just read where the Commander-in-Chief will be speaking during the returns on Styoopid Tuesday. Isn’t sort of like pissing on the heads of the repugnicans?
Lots of buyer’s remorse from the great Teabagger sale of 2010.
@redmanlaw: Yes, and it’s good to be back in L.A. where everyone isn’t pasty white.
@Dodgerblue: You could tell that just by reading the list of presenters.
@Dodgerblue: There’s a family photo of my parents’ fiftieth anniversary, taken in Eugene a few years after I had moved south. Didn’t realize how much I had tanned until I saw the line-up.
Gun Blog Meme: Romney is the White Obama and the White Obama can’t beat the Black Obama. Santorum is therefore the only anti-Obama candidate in the race. Problem is, the nationwide electorate is not made up of conservative white males.
@Dodgerblue: Hey, now. Mr Cyn has a farmer’s tan.
@Mistress Cynica: I stand corrected.
@Walking Still: Yeah, my East Bay residing coworkers were all freaked out today. March, April, and October, biggest earthquake weather months…
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