I was recently at a baby shower for a young couple whose majority of friends are young couples like themselves, not yet familiar with a lifestyle with children. Although not very kid-friendly (wine glasses, china, vases, tablecloths to the floor, large glass punch bowl with glass ladle), the hosts were incredibly accepting of our family’s destructive behavior. We broke one glass, spilled juice several times on several tablecloths, wiped our chocolate faces on pristinely white towels, used neatly tucked beds as trampolines.
I’m not judging. The event was delightful for many reasons. First, it was a co-ed baby shower. The fact that my husband could attend was lovely. I actually do prefer to go to parties with him. Second, our children were invited. Not having to find a baby-sitter in order to attend a baby-shower (although preposterous), is rare. Third, and best, there were no games, and no gift opening. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
At this baby shower I heard a conversation between two women, one of which was talking about her plans to get pregnant. Her husband was sitting passively next to her, actively watching a Vanderbilt vs. Wisconsin game on TV. (The father to be is a Wisconsin fan, and my understanding is that events that celebrate the arrival of one’s future child should never interfere with a televised event that involves a ball or puck. Again, I’m not judging, merely observing). This woman, let’s call her Beige, was saying that she needs to find a job so she can get pregnant and take maternity leave. Her friend responded:
Friend: What kind of job?
Beige: Well, I think probably retail. I mean, what else?
Friend: I’m sure you could do lots of other things with your degree.
Beige: Yeah, OK, but I don’t want anything challenging, you know. I mean being a parent is hard enough, I don’t want my job to challenge me.
Now I’m judging.
I am going to pass over the argument of whether retail is challenging or not. I will also pass over any comment related to this woman’s wasted education (whatever her degree is in) in favor of a cattle-like acceptance of her role as breeder.
What irritates me about her opinion is that this woman actively chooses to be a parasite on my society. What she wants out of life is a hand-out which – albeit distantly – affects me. She wants to have a husband , a house , beige clothes , and money so that she can make a baby. Then her life will be complete. But the concept of contributing to society doesn’t seem to have entered her pretty head.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a model member of civilization. Although I strive against it, I can be lazy, wasteful, derogatory, judgmental (ha!), insecure, a poor decision maker, etc. But I am aware of the need to contribute, to make an impact on my community.
Why do I do what I do – theatre? Part of it is because it’s the only “job” that makes me happy. Part of it is because I’m good at it. A little part is just self-indulgence. But a large part of it is because I want to communicate ideas to other members of my society, and theatre is my way to do it. Every play I do has a message. Every time I choose to work on a play it’s because its message speaks to me, makes me think, makes me want to change, to better our world. Putting on a show is my way of imparting that message to other people. To make them think. To make them change. To better our world.
I would like to believe that all members of my society do this. Having met Beige, I understand that it’s not so. And like all parasites, I’m sure she will be resilient, and succeed in her quest. I comfort myself with the thought that her un-challenged brain will eventually deteriorate into depression, and that she will end up doing something socially constructive when she finally understands that giving is the only way to keep happy. And she will…