My daughter likes to try on shoes. Especially the ones with 3- to 4-inch heels that she calls “Cram-your-foot-into-the-toe-Barbie-would-approve” shoes. A Wallabee wearer myself, I’ve done my parental duty and had the Bunion and Hammer Toe Talk, but I try not to be a fanatic.
So the other day we were in the Target when she spotted some slinky boots with the requisite heels, and then some red shoes with peekaboo toes, and some cork wedges with rainbow straps and we had to stop to try them on. I waited while she walked off (with only a slight wobble) to look for a mirror and take in the full effect.
When she returned, my daughter told me about the nice woman with two small boys who’d watched as she checked out the shoes and remarked, “They’re cute, but you’ll fall.”
My daughter laughed and the woman continued, “It’s ok. I try them on all the time.”
“My mother would never let me get these,” my middleschooler said, and the other mother replied, “It’s okay. I do it too. It’s okay to dream.”
My long-haired beagle-spaniel has entered into that time of year that we call The Big Shed. Every summer he grows what must be an entirely new coat, and for a brief while his fur becomes as soft and dense as an otter’s. Then the old coat falls out and I begin to follow him around with a comb. The first year I witnessed this process it was startling. Now I know that I have to be diligent–even annoying–during The Big Shed, or dog hair will become so much more than a mere condiment.
My dog tries to be tolerant, but he hates to be messed with. For the next few months he will regard me with suspicion: Is she hiding a comb? Is she going to pick at my fur again? Finally, The Big Shed will move from his haunches to his back to his ruff and be over. And then we will be free to be ourselves again.
Sometimes I think people have forgotten what it means to converse. Okay, not everyone has forgotten, but enough folks for me to take notice.
We all know that “debate” has largely gone down the tubes. All you get at a debate these days is one person stating a position followed by another person stating his or her position. It doesn’t really matter if they agree or disagree–how would they know?–their minds will never touch. No one ever changes his position, not even in the audience, because there is no fruitful examination of the merits of the ideas expressed.
But if we take these same ideas and put them in the context of a conversation or discussion, then in theory, the speakers’ behavior should change. It’s a different game. If good debate is about refutation and persuasion, then good conversation, it seems to me, should be about the refining of our understandings and solutions. Conversations should be the place where we work things out to our mutual benefit—the forum where we clarify our understanding. And while the process can be rough and tumble (“Are you guys fighting?” “No, we’re having a discussion.”), the shared committment to moving ahead makes it worth the effort to continue.
The “Choose Your Own Adventure” format has made its way into young adult chick lit with the “Choose Your Boyfriend” books. As they say on the cover, “If you’ve ever wondered ‘What if…?’ when it comes to boys and dating, Date Him or Dump Him? is a fun, interactive series that lets you navigate the ups and down of the dating scene.”
My daughter read one of these the other day. Her review: “It’s sort of like a first-person shooter with boys.” (Ah, the metaphorical stockpile of youth!)
A local business advertises laser hair removal with “all procedures performed by licensed nurses and aestheticians.” Every time I hear the ad I find myself wondering, do licensed aestheticians actually take courses in aesthetics? How much do you have to know about beauty and truth to get a license? Is this the skill philosophy majors fall back on if their philosophy shop fails? And how do you get on the certifying Board? I did find a web page for The University of Aesthetics (“an educational oasis”), but I’m curious, do aesthetic standards vary from state to state or is there some sort of federal regulation?
There are lots of questions that need to be answered before submitting to laser hair removal. Caveat emptor.