Me! Me! Me! Now! Now! Now!

I want a wife who works, who works out, who takes care of the kids, takes care of herself, takes care of me. I want her to be creative at work and creative in bed. I want her to be a tireless helpmate, to understand herself, her husband, and our relationship. I want her to be fit--economically, emotionally, and physically--and available in these ways as well. In exchange, I'm willing to sit around the house in my underwear groping the remote. I will, however, remember her birthday, or possibly our anniversary, in alternate years. I will do the dishes--when I feel like it--and take care of the yard when the moon is in Aquarius or there is a lasting peace in Chechnya, whichever comes first. What I will do consistently is complain about every aspect of my life at work and our lives together. Under no circumstances though, will I forget to put pants on when I get up off the couch to answer the door. A man has got to have standards. See if there is an analogy to the man above in the teenager below: He wants a "name" college in a great town with professors whose brilliance is exceeded only by their compassion. These pedagogues should have an accessible manner in the classroom and on the quad and a sense of humor matched only by their willingness to stay late after office hours and give out their home phone numbers and invitations to lunch. Needless to say, he is a low B student without an advanced placement or honors course his transcript. He has never read a book that wasn't assigned and has ignored many books that were. His level of intellectual curiosity is zero; his commitment to long range, meaningful extra-curricular activities is less than zero. His level of leadership expressed, implied, or in the future? Looking up the mountain at zero. Willingness to make a contribution to the campus newspaper, radio station, yearbook or student government? Willingness to help out tutoring underprivileged kids in town? Lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut. In this era of "buy me, get me, I want it now," it's no surprise that we would want a bargain. Who wouldn't want to give a little to get a lot? Housing prices have come down. Spouses are expendable. Commitment is a word seen more frequently on vocabulary quizzes than in real life. "My wife isn't fulfilling my needs. She has cancer." Many students are more concerned with the indicators of ability than with the reality. "I have a good grade in English" they tell me. "Of course, we watch movies rather than read actual books in the course." Before lamenting the imperfections of a school system that allows teachers who show films rather than talk about books, let me remind you that these same teachers have been unable to close the libraries. Not that they would try. If you believe, as I do, that ultimately, the consequences of being educated--or not--lie with the child, then a case can be made for a child who can read and write and think and spel. Just as I would encourage the husband described above to get off the couch and load the dishwasher, I would root for the student described above to put down "Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, Blood, Blood, Blood, Kill, Kill, Kill" and pick up a book. I have a list of books of deserved renown should he express any interest in that direction. As always, I look forward to your comments.

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