Dinner with a Perfect Stranger

So, aside from tiny cat earrings, my dad also bought both the Butcher and I the same book: Dinner with a Perfect Stranger: An Invitation Worth Considering by David Gregory.

This is a perfectly lovely little book about a guy who goes to dinner with Jesus and Jesus tells him why all the other world religions (except, curiously enough, Judaism) are wrong and only Christianity is right. If you are a thoughtful Christian with a shallow sense of regard for other religions, you’ll like this book.

If you are, perhaps, a daughter of parents who are thoughtful Christians with a shallow regard for other religions, I have just solved your next gift-giving occasion needs. You’re welcome.

That being said, I didn’t really care for it. It’s nicely written, but it’s a little too smug. I’m not going to take it apart piece by piece, but I’ll just say that there’s something really annoying about the fact that Jesus’s critiques of other world religions are valid enough on their face, but he’s not nearly as critical of Christianity though the same critiques would easily apply.

Still, my dad loves the book and I wanted to at least like it.

Which brings me back to a post I’ve been trying to write for days, about the complicated ways between fathers and daughters, and how I cannot bear to disappoint him and how I think my whole way of being in the world cannot help but do that.

I’m not a Christian. I’m not married. I’ve given him no grandkids. I’m a terrible housekeeper. Etc.

But I’ve been thinking about him both wanting to meet Sarcastro and giving me this book and what he said to me when I was telling him about my conversation with Miss J.

I don’t want to go too much into what I was talking to Miss J. about, since, if she wanted you to know, she’d start her own blog. But I told my dad that she was considering sitting her parents down and explaining to them that she wasn’t going to live the kind of life they wanted her to live. He got kind of upset and said that I should tell her not to do that, that her parents already knew it, their actions were just their way of denying it to themselves.

This seemed like a pretty bold thing for someone who doesn’t really know Miss J.’s parents to say, and so I figured he was actually saying something about him and me.

And then I’d been thinking about how I’d been so sure that he was hung up about meeting Sarcastro because it was confirmation that at least one man doesn’t run fleeing from me. But the night we called Sarcastro at dinner, you should have seen my dad’s eyes dancing when I was on the phone with Sarcastro. He just thought that was hilarious, that we’d call this guy up and give him a hard time. Which got me thinking about the drunken Thanksgiving phone call from the Wayward Boy Scout and Sarcastro and how my mom and I were standing in the kitchen both laughing.

And it just dawned on me today that my dad likes to meet people who delight me and who make me laugh. And that he wants to delight in them as well.

He wanted to take Sarcastro to dinner not to tell funny stories about me, which, of course, was my worry, but to tell funny stories to and hear funny stories from someone I’d made seem very amusing.

And so then, he gives me this book, and I’ve sat through enough sermons of his and listened to him talk enough about God to know where he stands and so I get to this part, where Jesus asks the narrator what his daughter will have to do to earn his love and the narrator responds “That’s ridiculous,” further explaining, “She won’t have to do anything. She’s my daughter.”

And it makes me think that I’ve spent a lot of time looking for and worrying about the ways I’m not living up to my dad’s expectations of me. And he’s spent a lot of time, in his own grouchy, obstinate, unclear way, trying to tell me that it doesn’t matter if I do or not, that I don’t have to do anything to earn his love.

I feel kind of like a dumbass that it’s taken me so long to figure this out. Yes, things are fucked up between us and probably always will be, but I think, if I can learn to listen as carefully to the good ways he tries to be open with me as I do to the shitty things he says, that might lead us both someplace interesting.

A Man’s Right to Choose

Katherine Coble has an interesting post today, which I feel like I should disagree with in some way, but I’m tired and one of my eyes is filled with gunk, and so I can’t figure out what bugs me about it.

You’re off the hook this time, Missy (or Mrs.y or Ms.y, whichever)!

But she mentions something in passing that I actually think a great deal about, having, as I do, a brother who, at this rate, is probably the father of at least one of the kids you are raising*.

Coble:

If you contribute half the DNA for the makeup of a human being, you are responsible for that human being’s welfare until they turn 18. Period. End of story. You can deal with this responsibility by being there, paying others to be there or electing to relinquish your rights through adoption. If you don’t then you’re pond scum.

I think I almost agree with this.

But here’s what bothers me. I firmly believe that a woman has a right to say what goes on in her own body. If she discovers that she’s pregnant and doesn’t want to be, tough shit for anyone who has other ideas about what she should do. And, as you know, since we’ve fought about it before, I think this includes the father of the child.

A man doesn’t automatically get some say over what a woman does with her body just because he ejaculated in her**.

That being said, I think there’s a true level of fucked-up-ed-ness to the fact that the reverse often doesn’t hold true. Often women get a lot of say over what men do with their bodies just because those men ejaculated in them.

In a perfect world, ever child would be wanted and well-cared for by a large group of adults who were ready to support it.

But I keep coming back to the idea that children are not the proper punishment for sex and that it’s fucked up for us as a society to continue to insist that they are.

If a woman and a man have sex and the man doesn’t want to have children, why should he be punished with having to support one?

I don’t see how some kind of “opt in” to parenthood will ever work in a way that doesn’t oppress women. A man cannot choose to be a parent to a child a woman is unwilling to carry to term; there’s just no way that such a strategy doesn’t work to the detriment of the woman.

But there ought to be an easy way for either or both parties to “opt out” of parenthood.

If I honestly believe that a woman has a right to choose not to be a parent, then I have to believe that a man has that same right.

A man who wants to be a father to his offspring should have to help with the expenses of raising said offspring as well as being there for the emotional well-being of said offspring. But if he doesn’t want to be a father, he shouldn’t be forced to be.

*I hope you’re lucky enough to actually know which ones are his, but if not, oops, sorry you had to find out this way.
**Yes, I know many of you disagree with me.

One Bright Spot in this Cold

My plans for the day are as follows:

1. Not dying.
2. Not going to work. Again.
3. Actively getting better, damn it.
4. Sleep.
5. Work on my own manly afghan, which is already not manly in color, but still manly in design.

I am pissed off. I feel so much better than I did a week ago, but I just cannot shake this cold and I sit at work and fall asleep at my desk. I feel like, if I could just get enough sleep, I would feel better, but folks, I’m writing this after eleven hours of sleep. I just can’t sleep any more. I’m not tired.

There has been one small victory with this cold, which I will now share with you. I have never been this sick for this long without it developing into pneumonia. Never. I’ve had pneumonia six times. I have the lungs of a 50 year old life-long smoker. If I get something in my sinuses, it usually takes a quick run into my lungs where it settles in and tries to drown me*.

But this time? If I could unclog my nose, I could breathe. The lungs are clear.

Which, I believe, leads me to a disturbing realization. Though walking the dog every morning (except recently, obviously) and taking her to the park at least once a weekend for a longer walk and eating more fruits and vegetables has not resulted in any less of a soft and cuddly Aunt B., by god, I think I’m healthier.

How else to explain how this malingering illness has remained so relatively benign?

Still, if I’m not better by Monday, I’m going to break down and go to the doctor.

*How I suspect I will actually die, drowning in my own snot, if high places don’t kill me first.

Everyone is Sick

I’m sick. The Butcher’s sick. Sarcastro claims to be sick. The orange cat is dripping something clear out of the top of his tail. My Aunt B. is sick. One of my co-workers is sick. The tiny cat has no ass hair.

On another note, my dad bought me tiny cat earrings in honor of Tiny Cat Pants.

How nice is that?