Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lower animals

My sister in the middle was whiney and neurotic when we were kids. She's a grownup now, but back then she was overwrought, irrational, and ... cruel when she had the chance. We were a sick family with odd parents, so it's understandable. I was pretty messed up too, as a kid. I wouldn't want to raise a kid like me. But I have this impression (now) that if you left me as a kid in peace, I would leave you in peace too. We didn't like my middle sister's hysteria, I think.

She also liked to put on airs. One such air was her constant refrain, over the years, of "girls mature faster than boys." This was delivered with a wry delight, a joke between those in the know. It annoyed me.

One day she said this yet again in front of myself and my mother and father. I must have been about 12. She would have been 15. My brain and my mouth started working at the same time. I said the most brilliant thing, and delivered it in just the right tone (scientific detachment): "Yes, all the lower animals mature faster than humans."

My sister looked shocked and insulted and may have said something interrogative.

I continued: "Mayflies, insects, dogs, cats, monkeys -- they all reach maturity faster than people."

She hissed: "I am NOT a 'lower animal!'"

I knew at the time that what I had said was intellectually dishonest, but it was very effective: She never once after that repeated that girls mature faster than boys.

I didn't often score such perfect goals as a child. I wish we'd had loving, supportive childhoods, but given what we did have, that is my favorite memory of taunting my sister.

In response to my 2/20/06 post "Mr. Safety," Femi and Lefty had a few things to say, and they seemed disappointed in my brief response. Here, because they are worth it, is my fuller response.

Reply to Femi and Lefty
Blogging is a new format for self-expression that, I think, adds new dynamics to writing while bringing along many of the traditional benefits.

On one hand, a blog such as mine is 'private' -- just the collected thoughts of one person, a sole sovereign. But on another, it's a public exercise, involving responsibility, similar to publishing a newspaper column.

Since the topic of the blog is usually me, or at least, my opinions, that makes me particularly unsuited to be the judge of my own flaws. Fortunately, I am blessed with readers, many of whom are willing to comment. They can help me see errors of my own that I've overlooked.

In your comments, Femi and Lefty, you said many things I already knew and agreed with, and have said myself, if not in the blog then in conversation. The persuasive tone of what you said made me think that you think I am missing something, overlooking one of my faults, blind to it.

Femi, you more or less said (going from memory here) that I was being misogynist. I said I wouldn't dispute your right to say so. Lefty, you had some things to say, and I thanked you for your input.

Both of you expressed disappointment at the brevity of my response. You both said that I'm prolific when arguing. That's true. I'm not aware that we are arguing. If we are, let me know.

Lefty, you brought up my meticulous critique of your post about the AB body-slam story. I know that my action then was confrontational, and I respect your right to turnabout (I'd be honored). I hope that at the time I did it, I was appropriately apologetic -- aware that I was intruding where not invited. I hope I didn't seem like I was arguing for fun -- taunting a bug in a jar for amusement.

You've read Kafka, I bet. You're familiar with 'The Trial.' Rather than make that mistake, and given my own acknowledged inadequacy in diagnosing my errors of attitude, I ask you both, since you were not satisfied with my responses, to let me know some options regarding what I could have said in reply, that would have been better.

I know that this puts work back on you, but we're all writers, and presumedly we enjoy it. I thank you in advance for any options you may write up, respecting that you don't owe me anything, and I am honored that you read this blog and care about me.

The GP gave me a green light for the port installation surgery. My weight is up to 133. My blood pressure was 146 over 90, but I've found that it varies greatly each time it is measured.

Left grip is 24 pounds (22, 24, 23), right grip is 74 pounds (72, 68, 74).

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