Thursday, August 10, 2006

Because I hate old people too

Sorry for all you who dig the knife-twisting heart breaking pathos but that sort of outlet doesn't work so well with the sorts of problems I have these days. A post on my current problems would be: "I didn't have a place to live, and then I have some health problems, made several stupid and costly mistakes, had some more medical issues, still didn't have a place to live." So instead writing is escapism and not so much introspection now. Perhaps with the summer ending, so too my streak of bad luck. But until then, for now...

There's an old man in the cubicle diagonally opposite mine. He's doddering, overly-gregarious, often disturbing others as they work in order to talk with them. I avoid this often by being in the lab for the good part of the day, or at the museum. When I am at my desk I've perfected a sense of busy industry, papers scattered, always intent on my computer screen.

His wife works here too, except she actually works. She's gone in the lab most of the day, stopping by only to pick up her husband for lunch and to go home at the end of the day. I've heard him tell the woman in the cubicle adjacent to mine that his wife always did the cleaning, the cooking, the taking care of the children. He isn't bragging but he isn't ashamed. It's just another fact about his life, like living in south Berkeley or being from the east coast.

In my mind I silently add to this particular fact: while building a career in the same field as he and facing, no doubt, numerous obstacles he was blissfully exempt from thanks to having a penis.

Having a grandfather who is professor emeritus at a well-respect institution, I've become familiar with this particular type of character. My grandfather is a man who spent his entire adult life saying and doing things people considered important and worthy of accolades; meanwhile in the background, unnoticed, my very charming and capable grandmother fed this man, clothed him, typed his papers and letters, kept track of his appointments, raised his children (five in all), and generally singlehandedly allowed my grandfather the freedom to say and do Important Things that people respected him for while remaining comfortably removed from all the drudgery and work it takes to keep ones life from falling to pieces.

Of course, growing up I was always taught to respect my elders but there's something about the elderly educated gentleman that I just cannot bring myself to respect. Probably due to their assumption of respect for their every statement. Certainly, with age comes wisdom but in their wisdom it never crosses their mind that perhaps they aren't the alpha and omega, or even correct.

As females, we've spent our lives watching our mothers and grandmothers take care of their willfully ignorant, infantile partners who thought that every word from their blessed lips was an enlightening, immutable truth and wisdom. Perhaps from this, a generation of women have and will rise and ask the question "why can't a man with an Ph.D. figure out how to work the goddamn microwave?"

Well, we can hope anyway.

3 comments:

Adam said...

Well said.

Ann Thrope said...

Your crazy psychological mind tricks won't work on me. I'm immune to positive reinforcement. Ha!

Adam said...

But your writing is so delightful. Who couldn't enjoy reading your work?