Romance is in the air. Oh, yes it is. For the first time in memory, both of my daughters have boyfriends at the same time. One daughter with a boyfriend is challenging, but manageable. Two daughters dating simultaneously, potentially endangering their futures by hanging out with wanton, horny liberal arts majors, is nigh on to impossible. I quickly turn into my father-in-law, who grilled me mercilessly when I told him that I wanted to marry his daughter. My father-in-law was an engineer. I wanted to write the Great American Novel. As you can imagine, it did not go well.
So here I sit with my Creative Writing degree (but with my far more pragmatic Education and M.B.A. degrees too, I hasten to add), nearly apoplectic at the thought of my daughters married to waiters who can quote Shakespeare. One waiter-to-be is, in fact, a Creative Writing major. Oh, the irony. The other young gentleman has taken a slightly more pragmatic approach and majored in journalism. Alas, they will both end up as waiters. Or network infrastructure architects churning out Visio diagrams with servers and routers and firewalls on them. I know it. This is what becomes of poetic young souls who long to transform their inchoate longings into sonnets. “You can’t actually live this way,” I want to tell them. “You can be the bohemian in the attic garret for exactly two months, at which point the food stamps run out, and then you will become a waiter. You might as well skip the outrageous tuition payments and head directly to Applebee’s.”
Of course, I am aware that my younger self would have chafed at such a conclusion. I still chafe at it. I wouldn’t want to be a waiter, either, which is why I mess with Visio diagrams all day and indulge those creative writing/music reviewer fantasies at night. It’s not that the 20 to 1 pragmatic to artistic income split is totally satisfying. It’s just that it pays better than the alternative, and involves fewer food stains. And as frightening as it seems, I really have come to value things like the ability to pay bills, and I have come to view my father-in-law less in terms of his steel-hearted insensitivity and more in terms of his concern for the welfare of his daughter. It’s funny how this works when the shoe ($79 per pair, on sale) is on the other foot.
Will I say any of this to the young, idealistic, and undoubtedly horny boyfriends? Nope. Not yet, anyway. I’ll give it time and see what happens. But it has me worried. And happy for my kids, and happy for two very lucky young men, who had damned well better know how great they have it.