Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No regrets at all . . .

"The Referendum"
Tim Kreider
(Image from New York Times)

I do have stories of my own to tell, but I've been very busy reading books as a member of a committee organized by the Daesan Foundation with the aim of awarding a literary prize for 'best translated book' or some such unofficial title. I don't know why I was included on this committee since the other four individuals are actually highly qualified.

Anyway, I'll perhaps have some time during the upcoming holiday for Korea's harvest festival to relate an anecdote from last weekend. Maybe. For the nonce, however, I'll just keep commenting on other people's writings.

Such as Tim Kreider's very funny article, "The Referendum," in the weekend's edition of the International Herald Tribune -- though I'm again linking to the online New York Times.

Kreider is a confirmed bachelor, or at least remains unmarried and lacks any unhealthy desire for children. Or so he implies:
Most of my married friends now have children, the rewards of which appear to be exclusively intangible and, like the mysteries of some gnostic sect, incommunicable to outsiders. In fact it seems from the outside as if these people have joined a dubious cult: they claim to be much happier and more fulfilled than ever before, even though they live in conditions of appalling filth and degradation, deprived of the most basic freedoms and dignity, and owe unquestioning obedience to a capricious and demented master.

I have never even idly thought for a single passing second that it might make my life nicer to have a small, rude, incontinent person follow me around screaming and making me buy them stuff for the rest of my life. [Note to friends with children: I am referring to other people’s children, not to yours.] But there are also moments when some part of me wonders whether I am not only missing the biological boat but something I cannot even begin to imagine -- an entire dimension of human experience undetectable to my senses, like a flatlander scoffing at the theoretical concept of sky.

But I can only imagine the paralytic terror that must seize my friends with families as they lie awake calculating mortgage payments and college funds and realize that they are locked into their present lives for farther into the future than the mind's eye can see. Judging from the unanimity with which parents preface any gripe about children with the disclaimer, "Although I would never wish I hadn't had them and I can't imagine life without them," I can't help but wonder whether they don't have to repress precisely these thoughts on a daily basis.
These three paragraphs had Sun-Ae and me laughing out loud. Or to be more chronological about it, I was sitting on the sofa drinking an ice-cold beer and otherwise silently reading in my quietly meditative manner when I abruptly laughed out loud -- and thus was forced to share Kreider's humor with my wife when she demanded to know what I had found so funny. Such is married life. A man can't just laugh out loud and be unobtrusively happy without having to explain himself to his wife. I can't really complain, though. Sun Ae's currently reading Don Quixote, and I keep demanding the same from her when she suddenly laughs at some passage.

And I never regret having children, not even when they make their unending, unreasonable demands like En-Uk did last night in forcing me to stay with him until he fell asleep because the other kids at school had told scary stories that he couldn't forget even though I needed to get some sleep because the clock was warning me that the hour was getting late and reminding me that I had to get up early and blog before heading off on my commute to the university at 5:30 in the morning.

No regrets at all.

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At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How're you gonna explain when the Missus reaches the the Blazing Saddles "armadillo on the half shell" bean supper by Cervantes?

Just curious mind.

Personally, I've never been able to explain aromatic humor. Then again - you are a recognized Academic (and people refer to you as "Professor").

Course that doesn't imply "Confessor."


At 12:21 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Such noisome humor is best kept silent . . . and is thereby more effective.

Jeffery Hodges

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