I’ve reached the age where a lot of people I know are getting married and having kids.
Many people believe that the ideal way to live your life is to follow the American dream. Graduate high school. Go to college. Get a job. Get married. Settle in the suburbs. Have kids. Your life path has a trajectory that you can’t change, nor should you want to based on societal norms. I fully support those who actually wants to do this, but I don’t think that everyone should.
Three of my coworkers are married men under 40. Until last week, only one of them was a dad. However, another became a dad to a little baby girl. During his wife’s pregnancy, the dads in the office joked with him about the “joys” of fatherhood.
“You won’t sleep for two years.”
“Baby spit-up will stain all of your favorite shirts.”
“Pray that you don’t drop the baby first, or you’ll hear about it for the rest of your life.”
I’ve seen too many people have kids because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do. My friend Angela is my only close friend who’s a mom. (She’s the only one who should be a mom at this point in our lives.) Between everything Ange has told me and Dean’s blog, it’s evident that parenthood is rewarding, yet hard work. Ange is a nurturing person who has always been great with kids. Dean’s blog showcases the highs, lows, and magical moments with her toddler. Ange and Dean make raising their daughters seem easier than it is.
None of my male coworkers have said that they had kids because they wanted to — most of them indicated that they were going along with what their wives wanted. According to them, their wives wanted to have kids once their friends started having kids. I cringe at the thought of babies as accessories — “I want one because my friends have one.”
There are also the parents who hate how “expensive” kids are. There are the parents who complain that they have to go to Little League games and dance recitals. My boss will stay at the office until he knows that his kids are in bed, so he won’t have to play with them.
Why do those people have children? Their kids grow up knowing that their parents resent them. Those parents feel unfulfilled because they consider their children to be shackles. These people should have figured out that their ideal life didn’t include milestones that society determined.
If (when) the day comes that I get to be a mom, I’m going to remember this list — the promises I made to my future daughter. I want to have kids someday. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the childless life. I’m not racing to the “next steps.” Those will come when the time is right — when we’re ready.
I’ve never been able to talk my way out of a ticket.
Cops sense my disdain for them. I can’t help it. The ones I’ve dealt with in the South have reinforced the fact that they profile people. Plus, I’m not smooth enough to bullshit reasons for why I was speeding or why I cut off incoming cars while making a left turn.
The only time I was able to avoid a ticket was last summer when a cop was posted by Ceddy’s old place near the Highlands. The cop pulled over every person who rolled this one stop sign, in an attempt to catch drunk drivers. I hadn’t drank a drop that night, so I just got a warning.
In college, Labor Day was a cursed holiday. Every time I’d drive to Alpharetta for the long weekend (or when I’d drive back to Athens), I’d get a ticket. That year, it was a particularly stressful weekend of dealing with our parents, so Raf and I wanted to get the hell out of Alpharetta and back to Athens as soon as possible.
Once traffic slowed, Raf fell asleep. After crawling down GA-316, I maneuvered around the wreck that had caused the delay and sped up the hill past The Georgia Club. From what I could tell, I was going with the flow of traffic…until a cop’s sirens blared and lights flashed in my rearview mirror. Groaning, I pulled to the side of the road and rolled my window down. Raf jerked awake.
“Sis, what happened?”
“I got pulled over.”
“Shit. Are you gonna get a ticket?”
The cop leaned onto my window.
“D’ya speak English?”
My eyebrows shot up in disbelief. “Yes.” Better than you, asshole.
“D’ya know how fast you were goin’?”
“Nope. 83. Gonna hafta write you a speeding ticket for that. Gimme your license and registration.”
I sighed and complied.
The cop squinted at my shoes. “Are you Native American?”
“You’re wearin’ moccasins.”
“They’re from Macy’s.”
“I didn’t know Native Americans sold their goods at Macy’s.”
Before I could reply, Raf coughed loudly and shot me a look. Don’t make it worse, sis!
Fine. But he’s a racist moron.
“Sorry for speeding.” I said flatly.
“Just watch it coming up that hill, next time.” The cop smiled, “Your English is great, by the way.”
“I was born in New York, but thanks.”
When describing me,
you use adjectives like
smart, short, and cute
submissive, traditional, and meek.
When I’ve discussed
of Asian women,
you say that
those who do so
which stems from
a lack of understanding.
I have an endless list
of reasons why
you’re the best,
but one is because
you don’t love Asian girls,
you love me.
“Miley’s dad must be real proud of her.” Mike laughed as he walked into his office, the one opposite mine.
“Mike, you watched the VMAs last night?!”
Mike is another one of my older white coworkers. Unlike Old Jim, he’s not clueless — he was a hippie during the Woodstock era and asks me about musicians featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered. We share stories about the best shows we’ve seen; his was Pink Floyd at Berkeley, but I haven’t been to enough to pick a favorite yet. The last thing he would ever watch is MTV, much less the VMAs.
“Nah, CNN was showing a clip on the TV when I grabbed coffee at the café.”
“Ugh, Miley is a train wreck!”
“I was wondering what kinda sick porno they were showing — I just about fell down the stairs!”
“She always says she’s twerking, but that’s not what her dancing is.”
“This is the first time I’ve heard of twerking. Is it a dance style like the Harlem Shake?”
“Yeah, the styles aren’t similar, but it is a dance style like the real Harlem Shake.”
“I take it those costumed weirdos randomly flailing in the YouTube videos weren’t doing the real one.”
“Exactly.” I paused. “If you want to see real twerking, then we should watch one of Big Freedia’s videos.”
Mike gestured to his computer. I found Big Freedia’s video for “Y’all Get Back Now” on YouTube and hit play. Mike watched curiously.
“Big Freedia is a rather big woman — buff, I mean.”
“She’s a drag queen. Her show at Terminal West was epic.”
“These folks dancing behind her –”
“Her twerk team.”
“Women and men — their moves are amazing!”
“Whatever Miley was doing doesn’t resemble this at all.”
“Why does a skinny white girl make a fool of herself trying to imitate the twerk team members?!”
“I ask myself that every time I read stories about Juicy J or other rappers putting her onstage.”
“She’s gotta know they’re laughing at her, not with her.” Mike chuckled, “Thanks for the education, Sam. We should show Big Freedia’s video to Old Jim after lunch. He’d appreciate this, for sure.”
“I don’t know what good it’ll do. He still thinks dubstep is a dance, not a genre of music.”
No strip club will top the one I went to in Amsterdam.
During my junior year of college, I did a study abroad program at Oxford. Andrea was doing a study abroad program in London. We got to see each other more often that semester than in the prior two years. For my twenty-first birthday, my parents gifted me with a trip. Andrea and I decided to go to Amsterdam. My friend Kate, one of my roommates in the program, came with us.
Kate and I flew out on Thursday night after class. Andrea met us on Friday morning, as she missed her flight the night before. We stayed in a sketchy hotel above a pub in the Red Light district. We would’ve gotten completely lost if Kate hadn’t figured out the tram schedule and helped us navigate map of the city.
After enjoying the sights, food, and coffee shops, we wandered the Red Light district. We surveyed the theaters where live sex shows were performed, but decided against going to one. Instead, we paid a five euro cover and stepped into a strip club. (Neither Kate nor I had ever been to one.)
This strip club was nothing like what I’d seen in movies. It was a cramped, dingy dive bar called La Vie En Proost. Men who sat on barstools in front of the bar bought lap dances from voluptuous women wearing g-strings. The bartender served beers and well drinks, immune to the patrons’ stares — she wore a long-sleeved leather jumpsuit that had holes cut out in the chest, fully exposing her breasts.
We clung to the wall opposite the bar. Andrea sipped her beer as we watched the women’s performances. A guy spun around on his barstool. He leaned back, rested his head on the bar, and laid a ten euro note on his face. The stripper squatted over his face and picked up the ten euro note with her vagina.
“Did that just happen…?” Kate’s eyes widened in horror.
“Where did it go…?” I asked.
The bartender gestured to Andrea.
“American girl — you forgot your change.”
“You can keep it!” Andrea shook her head vehemently, then whispered loudly to us, “Don’t touch the money!”
I used to loathe
with each passing second.
I would interrupt
the stillness with
(or nervous laughter).
Now, I find
comfort in the quiet
Mornings when we
walk to the train station
(hand in hand).
Afternoons when we
read our respective books
(beside each other).
Evenings when we
(after a long workday).
these wordless moments
as much as