Saturday, March 3, 2012

Monogamy, continued

As is obvious from this blog, my parents’ declining health has been a source of concern for me in the last year. Some of this is plain old-fashioned filial concern, which I suppose is commendable. Some of it, though, is something more like fear. When you’re a doctor observing a patient in decline, you can comfort yourself with “There but for the grace of God go I.” When you are watching your parents, you are left with “There, in thirty years, go I.” I watch nervously as my dad follows the path beaten by his father, and then I get the heebie-jeebies when I forget something.

Now I have more anxiety, because I am seeing echoes of my parents’ relationship—specifically, their dependency upon each other—in my own relationship with the Real Doctor. The Real Doctor is in New York at a meeting of the AGS, so I’m here living the bachelor life. I’m not loving it. I suppose that it’s good that it’s easier to get out of bed on weekend mornings, but that’s about it. Otherwise, I feel a bit like an unbalanced washing machine on spin cycle, and I spend an inordinate amount of time moping*. I know that the Real Doctor goes the same way when I’m out of town. It’s not difficult to see this trend going further, and see my future in the way my mom completely fell apart in my dad’s absence.

I don’t particularly want to end up in the situation that my parents are in (though it could be worse). So, on the mental front, the Real Doctor and I do all the things that correlate with mental longevity—lots of exercise, vegetables, music, puzzles, and so on. On the personal independence front, however, I am much less motivated. I suppose I ought to develop a personality that stands up perfectly on its own—but in a way, this seems antithetical to marriage. The long-term rewards, if any, of aggressively cultivating independence from her company seem pretty paltry when balanced against the pleasure of the Real Doctor’s company. If this is the disease, as they say, I don’t want the cure.

Feel free to remind me of this in 2052.

*The theme music for the day was too literal: “Fixing a hole” from the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper. The holes in question were not where the rain gets in, but where the insulation was blown into the walls. There are about a hundred of these holes, one or two every sixteen inches in all the outside walls of the house. Maybe the theme music should have been “A day in the life,” since I know how many holes it takes to fill my house and I can extrapolate from there to Albert Hall.


  1. I recently read about a study that compared how well various activities prevented the onset of senility - they compared thinking games (chess, etc.) as well as physical activity (golf, yoga, etc) and if I remember correctly, the only physical activity that helped reduce the incidence of senility was dancing. I suppose because it has both an intellectual and a social component.

  2. Hmm...There have been all sorts of things that people have tried and found some correlation. For a long time, doctors have said that the most important part of the body for maintaining mental health is the knees. Honestly? The maintaining sharpness argument is simply an excuse to keep doing things that I like anyway...

  3. P.S. Matthew--your profile says you're in Montpelier VT--is that up to date?

  4. Montpelier? Not at all, though I wish I was. Maybe if I leave it that way, it will become true again.