Reid and carol Photo credit: Lovisa Photo

A murder of pronouns

February 8, 2021

Photo credit: Lovisa Photo

   The other day Carol referred to “our” new air fryer as “your” new air fryer. Later she returned from running errands, and said, “I took ‘my’ car to the car wash.” And she added, “By the way, did they deliver ‘your’ wine order?” Maybe it’s the quarantine, but I’ve found myself picking up on pronoun use in “our” house of late. The question is, does it mean anything?

   Clearly, the astute reader could see that all the pejorative stuff (air fryers, wine, NFL Red Zone, recycling items left in the back of the car for a later (indeterminate) drop-off time, propane tanks, beef, potatoes, Reese’s miniature cups, Popeyes…okay, that’s enough for now) are all “his,” while slow cookers, iced tea, This Is Us, throwing out leftovers before they change color, cleaning supplies, broccoli, carrots, M&Ms, and Soup Plantation are all “hers” would seem at first glance to break along traditional, stereotypical gender lines. But I sense something else going on here, quite beyond the run-of-the-mill Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus And The Spaceship Is In The Shop battle-of-the-sexes. It’s more about roles and personal identity becoming fuzzed as a result of stay-at-home requirements.

   Let’s focus on retirees, since that hits closer to home than, say, working nuclear families literally going nuclear over Covid-19 lockdowns.

   One of the biggest fears of couples heading into retirement is that being home together 24/7 after an entire adulthood of work, childrearing and general household duties keeping the spouses apart on a day-to-day basis would quickly lead to friction, if not murder-suicide packs upon retirement and empty nesting.

   Carol and I began, on the other hand, with a rich understanding of our differences and a deep appreciation of them. Carol’s steely, resilient energy and magnetic positivity was in perfect resonant harmony to my rubbery resistance and magnetic negativity. Were we inanimate objects, in other words, we’d have made a great car battery.

Carol’s steely, resilient energy and magnetic positivity was in perfect resonant harmony to my rubbery resistance and magnetic negativity. Were we inanimate objects, in other words, we’d have made a great car battery.

   Our experience with the lockdown was an enhanced closeness, but an increasing awareness of switching polarities. We both sensed the danger of becoming more like each other. As Carol feared growing more inactive, cynical and withdrawn, I was equally terrified of suddenly finding myself spirited and outgoing. It was the stabilizing development of personal pronouns that provided the assurance that the pandemic would prevent us from becoming one another. Our identities matter.

   One thing for sure I don’t want to change is Carol’s ability to remember things we need to get done (landscaping, etc.), and then remembers to actually do it (call Larry) AND when it actually needs to be done (he’s coming Wednesday). This is way better than me, who not only doesn’t get it done when it needs to (we got a note from the office about the bushes and shrubs), but forgets what it is that needs to (I called Phil, but he said he’d just cleaned the gutters), and that it was needed to be done in the first place (what bushes and shrubs?).

   It’s personal pronouns that are keeping us in our lanes.

   Tonight Carol air fried breaded zucchini. Delicious – as good as the onion rings. Suddenly, I feel my identity slipping further away again.

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