June 30th, 2010


Sick, Soup, and Sexual Narratives

Today I am sick. I woke up feeling like absolutely hell, the kind of waking up where you sort of swim up towards consciousness out of the black and knock your head on it.

I'm am curled up on my couch, dumbfounded to discover we have no throw blankets. At all. What the hell, me?

I feel that this will be a day of staring dumbly at things. Possibly I will have the intelligence to knit. Possibly not. I was supposed to go meet a friend on one of the other islands today, but good lord is that not happening.

What my comfort-seeking body really wants is curried chicken soup. But my husband is working from home and I cannot trouble him to make it. I found an easy recipe and am now stuck with the eternal conundrum:

If I hurry, I might be able to get soup made before the real, ugly sick kicks in. And then my sick self would have delicious peanut curry chicken soup. But I would have to expend the energy now, and that might make me sicker. What to do? This is usually where that old joke about how I need a wife comes in. What we mean by that joke, obviously, is that everyone could use the old-school kind of wife that existed for about half of five minutes. We could all use a human being shaped like something we want to have sex with whose whole being is devoted to our comfort, happiness, and pleasure, who keeps our home clean and cooks wonderful meals and makes killer cocktails and raises the kids and looks beautiful while doing it, doesn't complain or feel unsatisfied with the work.

What that is, really, is a high-functioning robot. And the social/economic/time machine operating standing necessary to own one is and always has been crazy. But I want one. Where's my Roomba that makes me peanut curry soup? And makes sure we have throw blankets in the house? In this world where we are slowly, achingly slowly passing beyond gender determinism, many of us are discovering just what a good deal having a wife/robot really was for el patriarchy, and still is for a lot of humans who don't want to pass beyond anything. How many jokes are there still about how awful marriage is and how women trick men into it--usually from the same folks who demand that old wife-robot set up in action. Yes, marriage is and always has been awful, menfolk--how terrible to get a sexualized, enormously trained, capable, devoted servant in exchange for feeding, clothing, and occasionally putting up with her unfortunate power of speech.

Ok, I may be reading a Victorian-era novel right now. And I may have been watching a lot of stand-up comedy on Netflix. But don't believe for a second that a large segment of the population doesn't still buy both halves of that ugly cabbage: marriage is awful for men and awesome for women, and marriage means thankless backbreaking work for women while her husband complains about her to his friends and occasionally on national television, and men...have to listen to her talk sometimes. Thank god I don't live in a world where those are the rules. But I brushed by it, in my Navy years. I brushed by both those expectations and that attitude toward marriage--that it is a burden for the groom. It chills the soul. In the world I live in, there's a lot more uncertainty, because someone has to do that work, always. The care of the home cannot simply be undone, and if both partners work, well, some other method of splitting up the second shift has to get figured out. The figuring out usually ends up more fluid and hack as hack can than not. Sometimes it just doesn't get done. I mean, being poly, it's not inconceivable that I could have another partner someday. Even one who lives with us. But it still wouldn't be his/her automatic job to make me soup and clean the house. Like kink, all that stuff is constantly negotiated, and must be consensual. Maybe if we treated it all more like a scene it would go easier with our postmodern brainz. Is this work service or is it dominance? If you care for something, it's yours. Maybe that's the root of the marriage is evil canard. You can never tell if that beautiful AI in a bustle is your slave or your master. How unsettling.

Wow. That got odd. This is my head on a summer cold. And The Terror, Bright Star, and Carlos Mencia. (I actually prefer Joe Rogan for my uber-manly comic pleasure, but on Netflix Instant, beggars can't be choosers.)

The point of all this meandering is that today I really want a Soupba. But I'm gonna have to make it myself. Welcome to the future. We have cookies.