At lunchtime I sat down in the park with two other playwrights.
One was a woman around my age, the other was a guy in his mid twenties.
We compared sandwiches and chatted about this and that and then I said to the guy:
"You know I couldn't help thinking about what you said in class, about when you were nineteen and you just suddenly made a decision not to take any more drugs."
He nodded modestly.
It was a class that had been full of various confronting but truthful revelations. "I made the decision not to take drugs anymore when I was 19"..."My dad died before I could tell him I loved him"..."I was infertile and hated all my fertile friends"... That sort of thing.
"And," I added, "I bet if your Mum knew about that moment she would be really really proud..."
"Yeah thanks," he said.
I wasn't finished. "And also, if my toddler grows up and finds himself in the same position, I hope he makes the same decision as you. "
There was a slight pause as we digested the image of my almost two year old saying no to bongs.
The other playwright sitting next to me nodded thoughtfully.
"I thought exactly the same thing. I would be very happy if my son grew up to be a young man like you."
"That's um...that's very nice..." he mumbled, turning red. "Thanks, both of you."
The other playwright and I looked at each other.
"You know you're getting old," she remarked, "when instead of fancying the young men in your class, you wish your son would grow up to be like them."
"God, you're right." I looked hard at the young man and he was certainly physically attractive, but it was his polite manners, tidy eating habits and sensible inclinations where imminent and ultimately debilitating addictions were concerned that made me find him truly desirable.
And even then it was solely for the purposes of creating a benchmark for my son.
I grimaced at the other mother playwright. Yet another confronting but truthful revelation.
"That makes me feel really old."
"Mmmm," she said. "But I mentioned that very thing to my husband last night, and then I asked him if he thought men felt the same way about the young women they met. Apparently, no."
The metamorphosis norton critical edition 1996 pdf
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