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Now Blogging Afresh at Ad Orientem 西儒 - The Western Confucian

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Vonnegut on Extended Families

This wonderful piece was posted on the Cet -- Caelum et Terra forum:
    Kurt Vonnegut (1999):

    "OK, now let's have some fun. Let's talk about sex. Let's talk about women. Freud said he didn't know what women wanted. I know what women want. They want a whole lot of people to talk to. What do they want to talk about? The want to talk about everything.

    What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish people wouldn't get so mad at them.

    Why are so many people getting divorced today? It's because most of us don't have extended families anymore. It used to be that when a man and a woman got married, the bride got a lot more people to talk to about everything. The groom got a lot more pals to tell dumb jokes to.

    A few Americans, but very few, still have extended families. The Navahos. The Kennedys.

    But most of us, if we get married nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it's a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it's a man.

    When a couple has an argument, they may think it's about money or power or sex, or how to raise the kids, or whatever. What they're really saying to each other, though, without realizing it, is this:

    'You are not enough people!'

    I met a man in Nigeria one time, an Ibo who had six hundred relatives he knew quite well. His wife had just had a baby, the best possible news in any extended family.

    They were going to take it to meet all its relatives, Ibos of all ages and sizes and shapes. It would even meet other babies, cousins not much older than it was.

    Everybody who was big enough and steady enough was going to get to hold it, cuddle it, gurgle to it, and say how pretty it was, or how handsome.

    Wouldn't you have loved to be that baby?"