There will be a book review tomorrow. I promise. In the meantime, here is a very funny song by Matthew West as he and his family make the best of this “Quarantine Life.” I hope you all like it as much as we did:
I was in Barnes and Noble this morning to pick up Mile Rowe’s The Way I Heard It for 50% off the sticker price. On my way to the cash register, I stopped at the bargain books table and found an interesting little volume for $2.99:
It’s a book of quotes taken from everyone from Aristotle to Ovid to Einstein about the pleasures and pains of married life. The artwork -including sketches, paintings, and photographs- add to the humor and thoughtfulness of the quotes. It was a fun way to spend my lunch break. I was able to read through the entire thing in about 30 minutes. Here are some of the quotes from different sections within the book.
Section I: The Pleasures of Marriage
Marriage may often be a stormy lake, but celibacy is almost always a muddy horse-pond.~Thomas Love Peacock, Mellincourt, 1817
There were several quotes in this section that made me audibly chuckle, such as this one:
Five or six years of married life will often reduce a naturally irascible man to so angelic a condition that it would hardly be safe to trust him with a pair of wings ~ How to be Happy Though Married, 1895
My experience differs, but who wants a marriage to an angel, anyway? A saint? Sure! An angel, not so much. One last quote, and probably my favorite, from this section:
There is nothing more admirable, than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.~ Homer, The Odyssey, c 8th Century B.C.
Section II: The Pains of Marriage
By all means, marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher. ~ Socrates, 4th Century B.C.
That made me laugh. Another from the pains of marriage:
Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage.~ Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911.
Huh. Interesting book title, no? I suspect a lot of people probably agree with him. Of course, this is what happens when we forget that marriage, not courtship, is where love really blossoms.
Of all the actions of a man’s life, his marriage doth least concern other people; yet of all actions of our life, it is the most meddled with by other people. ~ John Selden, English Scholar (1584-1654)
Section III: Hints for Husbands
This first one is a riff on the barefoot and pregnant trope, I suppose:
According to the old custom, Egyptian women did not wear shoes; this was so that they should spend all day at home. With most women, if you take away their gilded shoes and bracelets and anklets, their purple dresses and their pearls, they too will stay at home. ~ Plutarch, Advice to the Bride and Groom, 1st Century AD.
I don’t agree with that, seeing as all it takes to send me out for a jaunt around the block is a decent pair of sneakers. No gilding, bracelets, or anklets required, but I do appreciate the spirit of the quote.
Remember, if thou marry for beauty, thou bindest thyself all thy life for that which perchance will neither last nor please thee one year; and when thou hast it, it will be to thee of no price at all. ~ Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618)
The last hint for husbands underscored to me what I have always known to be true; namely that there is nothing new under the sun:
When our Mistriss commands us to do anything, nothing should hinder us from giving a blinde obedience. ~ The Art of Making Love, 1676
Section IV: Hints for Wives
Don’t sit up until he comes home from the club; better be in bed and pretend to be asleep. If you must be awake, seem to be glad he came home early. He will probably think you an idiot; but that’s inevitable anyway. ~ The Isle of Man Times, 1895.
That made me grateful for a man who, most of the time anyway, thinks far more highly of me than is warranted. This next one is interesting:
If our husbands are not what we wish- and very few are in every respect- we should try to help them become so…We are apt to expect too much of manhood even, and hence, instead of a pleasant surprise, experience a sad disappointment. ~ Wedlock, 1874
That’s a bit of a headscratcher, but I really liked this next one, which is needed even more in this era:
Don’t expect life to be all sunshine. Besides, if there are no clouds, you will lose the opportunity of showing your husband what a good chum you can be. ~ Don’ts for Husbands and Wives, 1913.
That this next one was offered towards brides is telling, although it is clearly a unisex admonition:
Don’t imagine that the perfect lover, whether male or female, will come along ready made. If they do, mistrust them, since this shows a certain amount of previous experience. ~How to be A Good Lover, 1936
Last, but certainly not least:
Be not arrogant and answer not back your husband that shall be, nor his words, nor contradict what he saith, above all before other people. Le Menagier de Paris, 1393.
Some husbands actually desire to hear their wife’s perspective, especially when it differs from his. However, I would never contradict mine in front of others unless it was a matter of imminent life and death.
Section V: The Marital Bed
I’ll only offer two from this section. The way some of these chauvinists view sex, I’ll tell you…
A man must hug, and dandle, and kittle, and play a hundred little tricks with his bed-fellow when he is disposed to make that use of her that nature designed her for. ~ The Praise of Folly, 1509.
I’ll wind up the marital bed quotes with this one from the more modern era:
Legend speaks of the face that launched a thousand ships: maybe the one you select wouldn’t even launch a canoe, but don’t let that bother you.~ Looking Toward Marriage, 1944.
I enjoyed this little book. It’s funny, and I’m always up for a good laugh. It’s also interesting to read the perspectives of people who lived outside of the craziness of the postmodern world.
It does make one wonder though: Since there is so much literature out there -besides the Bible even- with practical marital advice from the wisdom of the ages- why are more being printed every day?
4 and 1/2 out of 5 Stars
Some stories never get old or go out of style. The children’s picture books featuring Frances the Badger by Russell Hoban is a series which fits this bill. My children have aged out the books, or at least I thought so, but we’ll get to that a little later.
For the past several months, a lovely young homeschooling mother who is a friend of mine has been teaching our daughter to play the piano. Despite numerous attempts to offer her remuneration for her time and talent, the only thing she requests of me is that I read to her youngest children in exchange for the lessons. Since her native language is Korean, she’s determined that the time I spend reading to her kids is a valuable exchange.
Our home library is constantly evolving, so I’ve exhausted all the books we have which might sustain the interest of a three and five-year-old (even accounting for repeating books!). So yesterday I went to the library in search of books to read to the children this week. After reading through several newer children’s books and finding only two of nine worth checking out, I searched my mental Rolodex for specific authors that might suit my needs and narrow my search.
I originally thought of Arnold Lobel, but there was nothing on the shelf at that branch which sparked my interest. Then I remembered Frances, and all the stories about her that are funny, well-written, and teach lessons in ways that are profound and true without being preachy. My children thoroughly enjoyed the books when they were younger. I found copies of several books in the Frances series:
- A Bargain for Frances
- Best Friends for Frances
- Bedtime for Frances
- A Baby Sister for Frances
- Bread and Jam for Frances [my personal favorite]
While preparing breakfast this morning, I noticed our 12-year-old sitting at the table with the entire stack of books in front of her, saying to herself, “Ooh! I love these books!” She cracked open Bedtime for Frances, and got my attention as she read a funny exchange from the book out loud.
After several unsuccessful attempts to fall asleep, and several trips to her mother and father with various excuses and fears about things that go bump in the night, Frances’s father puts his foot down, exasperated with her constant interruptions which are disrupting his sleep:
Frances said, “There is something moving the curtains. May I sleep with you?”
Father said, “Listen Frances, do you want to know why the curtains are moving?’
“Why?” said Frances.
“That is the wind’s job,” said Father. “Every night the wind has to go around and blow all the curtains.”
“How can the wind have a job?” said Frances.
“Everybody had a job,” said Father. “I have to go to my office every morning at nine o’clock. That is my job. You have to go to sleep so you can be wide awake for school tomorrow. That is your job.”
Frances said, “I know, but…”
Father said, “I have not finished. If the wind does not blow the curtains, he will be out of a job. If I do not go to the office, I will be out of a job. And if you don’t go to sleep now, do you know what will happen to you?”
“I will be out of a job?” said Frances.
“No,” said Father.
“I will get a spanking?” said Frances.
“Right!” said Father.
“Good night!” said Frances, and she went back to her room.
We had a good laugh, and I realized that we never really age out of a good story. Russell Hoban, using Frances the little badger, provided children with great stories.
If you have young ones and you’ve never read these, you should check them out.
I probably won’t get back to The Feminine Mystique posts before the New Year begins, but I am reading and taking copious notes. At least I was, but now I need to take an extended detour to finish preparing for the last week of the Christmas season. I want to give the posts the time and thought they deserve so I’m putting them on hold for a bit.
In the meantime, one of our daughters shared this with me this afternoon and it is just too gosh darn funny not to pass on. Before you watch this short video (2:28 total length), a few disclosures:
- We watch a few Hallmark Christmas movies every year, have watched one so far, and will no doubt watch a couple more. I can still make fun of myself, which I think is a good thing.
- I know it’s fluff and the corniest version of romance ever created
- There is one off-color word used in the video.
- SNL is not usually family friendly fare, but they nail it this time. It’s an excellent caricature.
- This is hilarious, to me at least. Enjoy!
I have a very engaging book review in draft. It may even get up later this evening. Meanwhile, it’s been some time since we’ve hopped off on a rabbit trail and my kids and husband produced an entertaining one for me this morning. I figured in the spirit of getting ready for back to school, we’d talk some kombucha science.
A little over a year and a half ago, a friend of mine brought me a SCOBY. I was just getting into the kombucha craze (you know how we chicks love a good bandwagon), so she figured I would enjoy brewing my own. And I did. At first.
However no one else in our house liked the stuff, and the sight of the SCOBY jar was, to quote my husband, “like a science experiment gone bad”. I kept brewing it and kept the SCOBY alive. I even gave one or two away to fellow bandwagon chicks so they could start brewing their own. We talked kombucha. We compared flavors. It was a kombucha paradise.
After a while, as I am prone to do, I grew weary of my growing SCOBY hotel, and my man was not under any circumstances going to allow his kitchen to be overrun with jars of multiple SCOBYs. It was more than enough asking him to look at one or two. Couple that with my tendency to be ever on the lookout for a new bandwagon, and it wasn’t long before my poor SCOBYs went longer and longer periods without fresh tea being added.
Somewhere along the way my man and our two youngest kids developed a taste for the stuff, and my neglected SCOBYs found a savior in my husband’s willingness to make new brews of different flavors. This morning he and the younglings got busy bottling up different flavors, cutting off layers of SCOBY for the fall planting soil, and having an all around good time making several bottles of the stuff:
Ever the teacher, it occurred to me that perhaps we should have an impromptu lesson on what a SCOBY is, fermentation, the meaning of symbiosis, and why things work together the way they do to produce the fizzy flavored teas that they enjoy so much.
“Way to suck the fun out, MOM!”
No, no one said that, but their faces said it all.
This is a multi-part book review as I read Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance and go through some of the obstacles he discusses as he juxtaposes courtship and marriage in the current era with the way it was done in times past.
The introduction starts out with Ansari offering some background on how he came to be so highly interested in this subject. Namely, he met a woman at a party, they hit it off almost instantly (he even kissed her that night) and exchanged numbers. The next day he texted the woman and…nothing. With each passing hour his anxiety heightened and confidence withered.
And he realized how absurd his predicament was, and how different it must have been for the generations of young love seekers who went before him with far fewer choices and less technological interference. After using the incident as fodder for a stand up act, it resonated with his audience so much that it inspired him to go on a quest: How did people in previous eras connect and find lifelong love? How does this current complicated mess we have now compare to their experiences?
Because he was interested in a serious answer to his questions, one of his first acts was finding an sociological expert to help him figure out how to collect, sort and analyze relevant data. They started out by going to a retirement community armed with a box of donuts for a few weeks to sit and interview the people who lived there about how they found their husbands or wives. What he found was “remarkable”:
14 of the 36 singles I spoke with had ended up marrying someone who lived within walking distance of their childhood home. People were marrying neighbors who lived on the same street, in the same neighborhood, and even in the same building. It seemed a bit bizarre.
To be sure that what he had discovered there wasn’t just a quirk, he checked the data of a sociologist from 1932 who looked through 5,000 consecutive marriage licenses on file for people who lived in Philadelphia:
Whoa: One-third of the couples who got married lived within a five-block radius of each other before they got married. One out of six had lived within the same block. Most amazingly, one of every eight married couples had lived in the same building before they got married.
Ansari thought it was just a city deal, but the trend in the 1930’s/40’s held everywhere he looked. He then explored the connection between adulthood at 18, and what is known today as “emerging adulthood”. That alone, even without the technological edge thrown in, changed the nature of how post modern people meet, fall in love, and marry.
Next Ansari spends some time discussing the differences of approach to marriage in our current era (the search for a soul mate rather than a companion), as I noted in the post prior to this one. Things get even more interesting as the author explores the vast difference in the way people even go out on a first date to begin with.
The second chapter is titled The Initial Ask and is divided up into sections with such headings as:
- The rise of the text message
- Calling versus texting, in which women expressed a clear preference for being called rather than texted.
- The Modern Bozo, where women shared with him some of the worst texts they have received from men
- Phone world
- The Science of Waiting, which was an excellent exposition on how technology has changed the way we wait for a response from others when we send them a message.
The section on waiting was interesting to me because Ansari is correct that in previous eras, waiting for a response didn’t produce anxiety because we all knew we had to wait for a response. Depending on the situation, it could take a few days to get a call back. Nowadays, the lack of a response within a few minutes can be a source of great anxiety.
Worse than that, were the people who shared with him that they deliberately waited longer times between responses for the specific purpose of demonstrating higher values, turning the whole thing into one big, angst ridden game.
Ansari hits some insightful notes on the inherent problems with the proliferation of choice in every area of life. However, for me the most disheartening part of his exploration in the first two chapters was the near universal agreement of the women of older generations on a specific train of thought.
They almost all said that although they loved their husbands and were grateful for their families, they felt compelled to encourage their daughters and granddaughters to explore life more and take advantage of all the choices available to women today. Do the things they wish they could have done but were not able to. This from women who had married at roughly the same age I had, between the ages of 20-22 (Nope, 18 year-old marriage was not the norm even back then). It made my heart sink, which doesn’t happen very often.
After sharing that bit of information with our daughters, whom I have encouraged that there is very little you can do your own that you can’t do with a husband (except fornicate), our oldest girl offered a tidbit:
These women have no idea how complicated all these choices have made life for the current generation. They think they missed out on something but most of them couldn’t tell you what. All they know is that the media and dominant culture told them they missed out, and so they believe they missed out even though they have no idea what they missed and wouldn’t have ever missed if no one had told them they missed it.
I think that’s how she put it.
I hope to tackle chapters 3-5 some time next week.
It is probably not a good idea to try and *do* school full tilt the last two days before you leave for vacation. At least, it’s not reasonable to expect your children to be fully attentive while visions of fun and games dance in their heads.
I’m currently reading Write These Laws on Your Children. The author has taken his kill shot yet, but I’m only 40 pages in. This should make for an interesting review.
Enjoy the rest of your week!
Food: A Love Story, by Jim Gaffigan. Originally published in 2014. 352 pages.
I can honestly and unequivocally say that if you asked me for a genre of book I thought I would never, ever, be bothered to read, I’d probably say one like this: written by a modern day stand up American comedian. I have no idea what possessed me to grab this off the featured shelf of our library on my way to check-out kiosk. Something about the photo made me snicker, curiosity got the better of me, and my state of mind this holiday season demanded that I read something that might make me laugh.
At least I hoped it would make me laugh, and thankfully, there were several moments as I read this book that literally made me laugh out loud. I read portions to members of our foodie household. The funny parts were so funny that I was able to forgive Mr. Gaffigan for the parts that were patently UN-funny.
This is not high brow, not excellent writing, and book snobs need not even bother to crack the cover. I generally consider myself a book snob, but I’m prole enough to be able to kick back and laugh with someone as low brow as I am. I’m not going to even try and discuss this book from a literary perspective because that would mean pretending that it’s literary. The fact that Gaffigan keeps making the best seller list with these books says as much about American reading habits as his books reveal about American eating habits.
So rather than go any further, I’ll just put up some funny quotes:
It would be embarrassing trying to explain what an appetizer is to someone from a starving country. “Yeah, the appetizer—that’s the food we eat before we have our food. No, no, you’re thinking of dessert—that’s food we have after we have our food. We eat tons of food. Sometimes there’s so much we just stick it in a bag and bring it home. Then we throw it out the next day. Maybe give it to the dog.
In America we have gone way beyond sustenance. Eating is an activity.
Gaffigan’s wife is a devout Catholic, who is also thin and pretty (nothing like him) and his five kids are very cute. This irony prefaces a few jokes in the book. This is when reached a point in his life when he decided to stop trying to get into shape, and embrace his reality:
It wasn’t defeat as much as it was acceptance. I figured, I got a hot wife. If she leaves me for getting fat, that means she’s shallow.
On trusting a skinny person’s word on what tastes (or doesn’t taste) good:
I’d still trust an overly fat person over a skinny one any day. The best adviser would have a very specific body type: pudgy or just a little overweight. This makes it clear they have a somewhat unhealthy relationship with food, but not a clinical problem.If they are morbidly obese, then you can conclude that they will probably eat everything and anything and do not have discerning taste.
My favorite part was probably his exploration of how dumb we have to be to have made bottled water into a multi-billion dollar industry. He even notes that Evian is “naive” spelled backwards, which I somehow never noticed.
Recently I tried Smartwater, which has electrolytes in it, and it’s supposed to replenish your body better than regular bottled water, therefore making you, I guess, smarter. I tried it, and it totally worked. I am now much smarter. Now I only drink tap water.
On second thought, that wasn’t my favorite part. It was this section, which I am going to end with along with an embarrassing confession. Me and my daughters? We are these people. My Benevolent Dictator thinks we are nuts:
Foodies will travel for miles in search of the perfect hamburger. “There is this place in Greenpoint that’s only an hour by train and a forty-minute walk from the subway that has the best burger in town!” It can’t be better than the burger I can get across the street. Mostly, I just want the closest best burger in town.
Yep, we drive for a great…whatever. We even got excited about trying a new local vegan donut shop and we’re as far from vegan as you can get.
Like I said, I laughed, which was the whole point. This book was basically a 300+ page stand up act, with all this implies: Some great hits, and some big misses.
Book snob grade: D
For me, out of book snob mode: Solid B+
Content advisory: The occasional four letter word here and there, but very rare.