Wednesday, September 14, 2005
As a middle child myself, I've always felt specially attuned to the needs of my own middle son, who is now four. I still ignore him and prefer his brothers to him--I think it would be cruel to deny him the full Middle Child Experience--but I'm especially sensitive to his feelings when he's feeling them. Neglect and despair are very powerful. You can almost smell them.
My middle child has always been sort of strange anyway. He was born with a full head of thick hair colored a stark, deep blood-red. I do not have red hair. My wife does not have red hair. Come to think of it, my middle child no longer has red hair (I didn't shave it or dye it blonde like Michael Jackson did to his poor helpless children... it just sort of changed by itself). Maybe it's the fact that he's obviously the son of one of my wife's red-headed co-workers that makes me pay him special close attention. But I'll never know for sure, not since the judge ordered me to stay 500 feet away from my wife's place of business since that day I got caught randomly running over red-haired men in the parking lot with my car.
About a year ago, when he was three, my middle son was at that stage where he was post-verbal but still pre-articulate. He could speak, he just didn't make a whole lot of sense. If he needed something specific, I could generally make it out, mostly by following the smell. Past diaper changes however, it was all guess work.
He spent all his hours between orderly and structured sleep-times asking me questions. Constantly constantly with the questions, that kid. Not regular kid questions either like "What's that, dad?" to which I could answer "That is a bird, son." Whether or not it was a bird didn't matter because he didn't know the difference; the point is that this is an example of a question that could be definitively answered.
More often than not, what I got was something like: "Dad?" "Yes, son?" "Why is blue?"
That's 45 minutes of my life gone right there trying to figure out what the fuck he could possibly be trying to actually ask me that somehow was verbalized as "Why is blue?" Is he asking about the sky? The ocean? Something on my shirt? Is he overcome with a general feeling of depression or malaise best expressed by simple three-chord-progression guitar music?
Then I got to thinking, maybe he's asking something really fundamental and abstract, something my polluted adult brain can't quite wrap itself around, something his burgeoning, developing intellect has access to on a more epistemologically pure level. I tried calling the Temple Worship Center out in Ontario after he tweaked my brain with "Why is hot is?" just in case he was a reincarnated Buddha or something, but they only laughed at me and told me to (and this is a direct quote) "Fuck off, Round-eye!" before they hung up on me. Not very Zen. Not very Zen at all.
Eventually I simply came to accept the fact that there is such thing as an Unanswerable Question. It doesn't have to be hard or ornately constructed or conceptually dense in any way. It's enough that it just doesn't make any goddamn sense. He's older now and is better able to express himself, which is great. Now he asks me easy stuff like "Can I have a snack?" and I laugh, hand him a stick of butter and send him on his way.
He asks me other questions too, such as "Can I have a snack?" and sometimes he'll even ask me "Can I have a snack?" Usually what he asks is "Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack? Can I have a snack?" It sounds like a lot, but he asks it all in about 4 seconds and at a really pleasant high-pitched whining squeak. The great luxury is that since he's the middle child, I don't have to be receptive to his needs. Which is nice.
The point of this post isn't actually my son, though, it's about questions, specifically the Unanswerable Question type of questions.
To wit, the lovely and talented Bucketeer kbryna asked in yesterday's comments:
pops: as a fairly young married man (the only married man of my acquaintance except my dad and various uncles), can you explain to me how and why married guys cheat on their wives? ok, not so much how, but the why? i don't know anything about the married-man mindset. let's have some truth-telling! and look, i gave you a post subject. just some pops-ish discourse on the topic would be interesting. to me at least.
As any regular reader knows, asking me direct questions is usually an invitation for me to make fun of you in the next day's post. This question in general falls into the silly, unanswerable type of behavioral questions that can't really be answered except for on a case by case basis.
I say in general and do so in italics so as to emphasize those two words for later reference and clarification, as I will offer now: it just so happens that I am an absolute expert on marital infidelity.
No no, don't get the wrong idea, I've never strayed myself (everyone agrees anal doesn't count), but marital infidelity is sort of a rite of passage amongst my extended family. The way other families all experience high school graduation or the birth of their children, my family, as predictable as the changing of the seasons, likes to do it with people to whom they are not married while they are married to someone else.
In my dad's family, it's like some kind of weird personality disorder. It just happens. In my mom's family, where she has 11 siblings (that's actually true, by the way) it's a question of volume. With that money people, you're going to get a little of everything.
So I'm an expert. Observationally speaking, there are licensed sex and family therapists with less experience in this field than I have. So you've asked the Unanswerable Question to exactly the right person. Congratulations.
Of course the question is worded incorrectly as it singles out men as cheaters when in my experience cheating is a 50/50 proposition as anything else involving both genders. But since you asked about men, I'll limit my expert gaze to that half of the equation.
Why do married men cheat? There are several reasons.
1) Women are whores.
The end. The rest is superficial and irrelevant. A bunch of jargony filler to pad articles for professional journals really.
OK, perhaps I should elaborate a little.
Not all women are whores. Some women are quite modest, reserved, circumspect, possessive of their sexuality and their bodies, waiting for the exact right, socially appropriate time to share themselves, their most precious commodity which they will not have compromised under just any old condition. These women are called married women.
There are some non-married women who are attracted to married men because of the air they give off of stability and commitment and solidity. Everything about them says security. So they throw themselves at these men, who then leave their wives for these crazy, slutty whores and thus destroy their image as stable partners by the very act of being unfaithful. And then they marry their former lovers, which turns the whore-ish woman into a married woman and the cycle of hate and resentment and sexual withholding starts all over again.
So there you have it. It's so simple when you break it down scientifically. I'm glad you asked and even more glad I didn' t have to think of a blogpost topic all by myself.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.7