Being human.


It’s Mothers’ Day, per the greeting card industry in North America and Australia, and I don’t have any mother figures in my life anymore. I’d rather salute my friends who are mothers on non-invented holidays, like most every other day of the year, but I so frequently forget to. Mums are pretty great, though. So hooray for them! Your kids are very lucky to have you.

I sometimes complain about living in a bubble. I do quite often. I like going to pubs to read, for example. Or spend my evenings catching up on television by myself. Occasionally, I get frustrated because I don’t meet new people that often and that I am never approached by men. I am trying to mute my fuck-off-and-leave-me-alone demeanor (which is not always intentional). It has almost worked.

Twice in the last few weeks, someone has approached me in a bar. In one case, the bartender in a place where I was the only patron and the second on a patio in Centretown where I was alone on the patio. In both cases, the gentleman in question asked what I was reading. In both cases, they ended the conversation fairly abruptly and went about their business.

Yeah, okay, they were at work. One of the books was that history of ‘Saturday Night Live’ I was harping about recently. The dude asked if it talked about Chris Farley and Will Ferrell (even though I mentioned it was about the earliest days of SNL) and sounded disappointed that it didn’t. I really tried to tone down my know-it-all voice and not say ‘I SAID, it was about the early history. The 1970s. Capiche?’ Succeeded in in the latter, but I guess I intimidated him anyway because he went quiet, then said ‘Oh, okay’, and buggered off.*

In the second case, I was revisiting, after several weeks off, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The very handsome server came to sit at my table while we were waiting for the debit machine to be free, and asked me what I was reading. I explained, briefly, that it was about the first human cells that grew in a culture, but that they’d been taken without consent or compensation, that it was about race relations and class, but also science (that I didn’t fully understand) and the development of drugs, and treatment plans, and all sorts of other things. His eyes got wide, then he got up and said that he was going to go check on the debit machine situation, even though he could clearly see that it was still in use from where he was sitting. (But came back and was very friendly about it, luckily.)

Now, serving staff need to be friendly and interested if they want big tips, so maybe this wasn’t flirting at all, just mining for a bigger gratuity. However, I do wonder if it’s because I’m still intimidating, or reading things that sound complicated and intellectual (they aren’t particularly – also note how fecking long it took me to read either of these things), or sound too smart.

I didn’t exactly want to pick up these men*, but attention is/was nice. I don’t get much of it, at least not from non-homeless guys. I’m not even angry or bitter, just slightly perplexed. I wonder if the reactions would have been different if I was reading something a bit more recent or popular. Or if I could figure out how not to sound like a weirdo snob. Or learn to not look annoyed when people I don’t know want to talk to me.

I am not the smartest person in the world, or even, possibly, in this room (I think the cat KNOWS things – and yes, he is a person, shuddup). I was always encouraged to show off (non-ostentatiously) my smarts by my very clever mother, but is that to the detriment of my romantic life? I do get argumentative sometimes, but mostly only if I know I’m absolutely right, and only rarely with strangers. But if a man is a blowhard, I think that’s less scary to potential partners than when a woman is.

It’s not clever or profound to trail things off without a conclusion, but, 700 words in, I literally am not sure where I’m going with this. But I’ve been noticing more and more that news articles tend to end with a one-line paragraph of pat, frequently treacly, ‘conclusion’ that is unnecessary. Here’s my attempt:

Living in a bubble has exposed me to many wonders, shining iridescently through the soapy film.

* Interestingly(?), I went to this pub with a male friend yesterday for the first time in months, and only then did this dude mention his live-in girlfriend. Coincidence?

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