“I have conservative values,” said M’s profile. What does that mean? I begin by thinking this person doesn’t like gay people, single mothers, and people on welfare, tries to limit his sex life, and is a Republican. I asked M. what he meant by that, and he answered that he tried to live his life, “as my parents would have wanted.”
My parents raised me, as all parents did when I was growing up, to be a housewife and mother. I do not live as my parents envisioned, either religiously, maritally, professionally, sexually, or in any other way. None of the women raised whan I was raised do. A woman classmate said at our 40th reunion, “They changed the rules on us midstream.” The biggest rule change was that we had to become breadwinners, which changed everything else.
Conservative values (meaning, when a teenager, not having sex before marriage (though M. did)) led M. to marry a woman he barely knew. He had an on-again off-again attraction with a Greek woman whose father wanted her to marry a Greek man. M. saw the woman on campus one day and asked her out. She said, “I won’t go out with anyone who isn’t Greek unless he marries me.” “Okay. I’ll marry you.” They got their blood tests the next day and that Saturday they got married. The marriage lasted 15 years and produced two children, then she said she wanted a divorce, and married another man the week the divorce was granted.
When people ignore or deny their primal needs, they do bizarre things. Believing this makes me a liberal, I suppose. This conservative man stared at me lustfully at length over lunch. It seems to me that he wants to jettison the Catholic guilt over his sexual desires and claim his own soul and would like permission to do so. He’ll have to look elsewhere for that. A man who, in his 60+ years, has never questioned his “conservative values” profoundly enough to change his way of life could be nothing but boring, and M. was boring. He made me feel boring. If it weren’t for the intriguing story of how he married a woman three days after he first asked her to go to a movie with him, I would have fallen asleep over my BLT.