The holidays approacheth. For me, whose hometown is small and in the eastern part of the state, so do many unsolicited questions about my life choices.
I don’t mean to claim that snooping onslaught around Thanksgiving from one’s relatives and neighbors is exclusive to quasi-rural North Carolina. But I do maintain that, in said region, said onslaught is considerably more difficult to escape.
I also don’t mean to imply that the interrogation comes from any place more sinister than love, support and genuine interest. My forthcoming inquisitors happen to be among my favorite people. But after a few years, I think I’ve got the formula pegged.
Sequence 1: Still majoring in English? (Yes ma’am/sir). So you’re going to be a lawyer? (Actually, I’m just majoring in English in order to learn about English literature). Oh. You should go into advertising!
Sequence 2: So what’s the plan after graduation? (Oh, not sure yet, don’t know if you heard but the job market’s not exactly welcoming at the moment). Well, there’s always a market for lawyers. (Actually, there’s a glut of law school graduates in America right now, also I don’t really want to be a lawyer). You know, you really should think about advertising. It’s a very creative industry.
And then, the most problematic/sweaty of the sequences, Sequence 3, begins: So do you have a boyfriend?
There are two acceptable answers to this question: “yes” and “no.” The “no” must be untethered — not “no, but I have a very dependable booty call” or “no, because I am primarily attracted to women” or “no, I will not answer that intrusive and reductive question.”
Circumstances prevent me from disclosing my current romantic situation (Taylor Kitsch, of the acclaimed “Friday Night Lights” and the less-acclaimed “Battleship 3D,” has forbidden me from publicly confirming our divorced-with-benefits arrangement).
But hypothetically, this year, if my answer were no, the response would be the ostensibly supportive (actually patronizing) “good for you” or the ostensibly hopeful (actually ominous) “you’ve got plenty of time.”
If my answer were yes, it would incur the following queries.
1) Are his folks nice? (Subtext: does he come from a “good family,” which is a whole ‘nother “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” kind of problem).
2) Does he treat you right? (Subtext: does he behave according to mid-20th century prescriptions of gender politics?).
3) Is he a “keeper”? (Subtext: when can we expect a wedding invitation?).
Though it will occasionally seem necessary to remind my conversational partner that we are living in the year two thousand and fluffing twelve, it’s not worthwhile to revise the script. As usual, I plan to embrace it.
If I need some excitement, I can always mention that I voted for Obama.
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