Euphemisms, Unnecessary Technology

31 January 2002

Michelle thinks that any time moose butts (which she called "moose behinds") come up in conversation (or, evidently, my journal), it's a sign that I need to get out of the house. Which I did. I was out when she sent the message. But I'm not sure it helped, because last night, I spent some time trying to figure out which was the best French translation of Spam-a-lot (Spam-beaucoup is the obvious one, of course, but Spam-a-lot may be like the Camelot it was intended to rhyme with: untranslatable) and deciding that I needed a WWDHD? Bracelet. (What would Doug Hofstadter do. Naturally.) I also laughed hysterically at the line Timprov thinks is the world's best non sequitur: "You can't eat a good giraffe like that all at once." And we need a moose that's like the lion dancers at Chinese New Year. Sort of a Finnish New Year thing. That was the kind of night it was. And I had gotten out of the house. Honest.

But, to pacify Michelle, I won't go any further on the moose dance. Instead, I have a nice rant for you. If you'd rather have heard a happy entry about a moose dance, complaints can be sent, no, never mind.

So. My least favorite euphemism of late is "start a family." "When are you guys going to start a family?" "Will you start a family when you move back to the Midwest?" Oh, excuse me. My family has already started, thank you. And if you wait until you get pregnant to start one, you and the kid are both going to be scrambling.

It's better than the other things people will say -- "spawning" or "popping out kids." (Pop! Oh, there's a kid! Wasn't that easy? I think I'll do another: pop! Haha, what fun! Sigh.) But I don't understand why they can't just say "have kids." It's what they mean. And would you go up to someone who was surrounded with loving friends, nieces, nephews, and cousins in her old age, and say, "Gosh, too bad you never had a family"? I suppose some people would. But it seems like a patently ridiculous statement to me.

There's a problem, I think, when families are defined around the existence of children. That's just not a stable state. Kids grow up, and adults need families, too. I mean, sure, the Wileys served as another aunt and uncle and pair of cousins to me when I was growing up, and my folks did the same for Kari and Mary. But they weren't just around For The Kids. If they had been, we probably wouldn't have counted ourselves family in the first place.

I think it's a lot easier for people to admit that their kid needs a father, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle or whatever, than to admit that they need the equivalent people themselves. It's always easier to be doing something "for" someone else. Not always more honest, but easier for sure. Kids are flexible, and I've heard that adults have to be more flexible when they have kids. (I believe it. Just haven't been there.) If you haven't started a family by the time you get pregnant, sure, there's a chance you'll figure something out. And you ought to. But conversely, if for some reason one never has children, one isn't totally denied family life. Bottom line for me is: families are not just child-rearing units, to be discarded when that task is done. I believe that making a family is the most universal important thing that people do in their lives. But that extends to how you treat your parents and grandparents, not just how you treat your children and grandchildren. It extends to how you treat your aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings, nieces, nephews, and whoever else you decide is going to be part of your family. Pay attention. Not to me, to them. This is important. You do get to actively decide who's "really" in your family, but you have to do it carefully. We all do.

On a different subject completely: now, I like technology at least as well as the next girl. Probably better. But I do not see any reason for the new Air Jordans to come with an interactive CD. I just don't. There was an interactive CD offer on the baking soda boxes awhile back. Why? Who says, "Hmm, I could buy this baking soda...but wait, it doesn't have a CD with it"? Who??? Baking soda, for heaven's sake! You don't buy it because it's glamorous or informative or catchy. You buy it so your bars will rise.

(Of course, I also wear the shoes I wear because they fit my feet, keep them reasonably cool or warm and dry, depending on the season, and don't cause blisters. So I'm not the market for the Air Jordans anyway. But if my clogs came with a DVD documentary on the history of clogs and the making of these particular clogs? I would not be impressed, particularly not impressed enough to pay $200 for them.)

Okay, Michelle, is that enough non-moose butt stuff for you, or do I need to get out the rest of the newspaper? I'm hoping it's enough. I'm going to read some slush -- not much longer for me to be saying that -- and finish reading the paper in a non-ranty mood. And then I'm going to finish Hunter's Oath, and then, well, Not The Moose Book for me. Also calling to get tickets. I now know that Scott does, in fact, like blackberries, so plans can continue apace. And they will.

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