Politics as Usual
The worst of it, though, is that if George Bush or any other Republican had given the same speech while he was in office, few if any of these complainers would have complained. Just like they didn't care when several Republican presidents were photographed putting their feet up on the Resolute desk, but when Obama did it they started a chain email full of self-righteous indignation.
So I ate and then when I left she wanted a picture of us, and some old lady chose that moment to come over and start asking her questions, so she got in the picture too. And there was also a photobomber. I was proud of this moment because usually when I have to put my arm around someone, I instinctively curl my hand into a fist to minimize the amount of me that's actually touching them, because that kind of intimacy makes me feel super vulnerable and awkward; but this time I had my fingers spread out on her back like a normal person, so I thought that apparently somewhere along the line I'd made a huge leap of progress in that regard without trying or realizing it. But then I actually saw the picture and realized I was leaning way away from her. Urgh. Baby steps.
I was eating dinner with them, and Kathy asked if I wanted food too, and I shrugged, which meant Yes, I always want food, my friends are probably going to show up here soon and I don't want them to see me eating free food meant for old people and think I'm the worst person in the world. (The last time someone offered me food at a different old people's home, I was about to accept before the guy with me said "Nah, we're good", but only because I was hungry enough to eat a bowl of cockroaches.) "That means yes, doesn't it?" Kathy said. And a waitress came by and asked if I wanted anything and I just had to shrug again and say, "They want me to." So she said "We'll get you a guest tray" and I thought Wait, a 'guest tray'? So this is like a normal thing around here? That changes everything. Charlotte didn't eat anything except a cup of hot chocolate, and she made me get one for myself too, and it was the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted. She never eats anything. I don't know how she's still alive.
"Modern Romance" Addendum
Arranged marriage seems barbaric to many modern sensibilities because it mostly removes choice from the equation, and modern sensibilities love choice. This, however, leads to another problem mentioned in the book, where so many options are available that one becomes paralyzed by indecision. I've often had this problem with myriad things, which is why I often procrastinate my decisions until the last minute when my only choice is to scramble and stop everything from imploding. It's not always fun but it's worked out for me so far. That's how I ended up in an apartment complex with all those Indians, and they were/are some of my favorite people ever. Anyway, I hate decisions where there's no clear "good, better, best" because all the options are just "different" and I don't have many particular preferences one way or another. In dating, I just want someone who's honest and kind and female, and beyond that I don't even have a preference for something so basic and huge as introvert vs. extrovert. It's much easier to avoid choosing altogether.
Tinder, which is also discussed in the book as one of the "modern" parts of "modern romance", has such a taboo against it that for the longest time I thought it was a porn site. Almost everyone who admits to having a Tinder feels the need to preface it with a disclaimer about how they never imagined getting one, aren't really the type to get one, just got one for the laughs or out of curiosity, etcetera. They're afraid of being seen as desperate and shallow. In the book, Ansari argues that it isn't really shallow because swiping right on the people you find attractive isn't really that different from just approaching the people you find attractive in real life, which is what everyone does. I would counter-argue that this is still shallow, but no more so than standard human interactions which are shallow to begin with. But it's evolution's fault so that's okay.
The book cites brain scans demonstrating the difference between passionate and companionate love and that the former inevitably dies after twelve to eighteen months, hopefully to be superseded by the latter. People who refuse to acknowledge this or think they'll somehow be an exception are setting themselves up for a rough time. It sounds all fine and dandy to me in theory, but when my dad said one time that being married is like having another sister, that was a really really really really really really big turn-off. I have enough sisters. I have three real sisters and one imaginary sister that I made up as a joke because whenever we got in the van to go somewhere my parents counted us to make sure we were all there, and I thought Come on, there's only four of us, we're not that hard to keep track of, so I started saying, "We forgot Rachel!" and it caught on. I love my four sisters, but if I wanted another sibling I would ask for a brother because I don't have any of those.
This has nothing to do with the book, but since it's related to the topic, in my institute class a couple weeks ago someone remarked, "My dad always says we should remember that marriage isn't just between two people, but it involves the community, and you have obligations to the community. In response my brain played the clip of R. J. Fletcher in "UHF" saying, "The community? Let me tell you something. This community means about as much to me as a festering bowl of dog snot!"
I couldn't believe he was such a nerd as to draw a picture of her and give it to her. How could he not know how weird and creepy that is? I thought only I had ever done things like that. One time I drew a picture of my then-new friend Quincy for her birthday. I copied it from an actual photograph of her wearing a dress and sitting in a tree, but I took the liberty of adding a magic wand, a tiara, and a pair of massive butterfly/fairy wings. The guys at the lunch table saw me drawing it and said, "That's creepy." And I said "No it isn't, she'll like it." And she did, because she's the most empathetic and understanding person in the world. But she still acknowledged years later that it was weird. A year or so later, I had mostly grown out of this but I got bored in biology lab and I thought a more rushed and casual picture would be all right. That girl seemed less than enthused when I showed her, though. And I unexpectedly found it in my closet the other day, which is why I found this roundabout way to bring it up so I could show you.
The second worst flaw was the missed opportunity in this exchange -
Bond: I gave your father my word!
Madeleine: And why should I trust you?
This is where he should have said, "Because my word is my... bond."