Saturday, May 7, 2016

To Dote or Not to Dote, That is the Question

Dote (verb): to bestow or express excessive love or fondness habitually

Only in my family could we spend a good chunk of a pre-Mother's Day luncheon discussing who dotes and who doesn't, not to mention what constitutes doting.

The subject arose because Sister #5 doesn't care for her daughter's beau, openly stating such despite the fact that he dotes on her.

When Dad tells us that we should all be so lucky as to have a man who dotes on us the way he dotes on Mom, it opens the door to doting discussion.

"So whose husband does dote?" Sister #2 asks of the table.

Sister #6 quickly clarifies that her husband does not and has never doted, despite a long and successful marriage. We all agree that Sister #3's husband dotes unabashedly, but even Sister #4 herself isn't entirely certain if her husband qualifies.

Someone cracks that neither Sister #2 nor Sister #5's husbands dote, but both take issue with this, bringing up meal-making and housecleaning as examples of doting.

Wait, aren't those just examples of shared responsibilities?

Discussion is tabled when housemade ice cream - limoncello, peach, chocolate - arrives, but then Sister #6 remembers a critical point.

"None of us has ever doted," she reminds us. It's true and whether that's a failing or not is up for debate, as is practically everything in this family.

Fortunately, the day ends with a friend who not only wants to hear all about the sister round table, but is willing to knead the family-inflicted tension out of my shoulders after I share it at 821 Cafe over black bean nachos.

I reward him with an evening at Firehouse Theatre seeing "Maple and Vine," a play about an overly stressed couple who abandon focaccia, cell phones and Google for life in a gated community that recreates life in 1955.

Women are pretty and persuasive but men wear the pants in the family, crab puffs and charades constitute a party with neighbors and wives attend Authenticity Committee meetings to ensure they are living properly buttoned up and politically incorrect Eisenhower-era lives.

Their lives are no longer information-saturated, over-scheduled or diverse, so they are more present in their own lives now, even if their roles in it are more strictly circumscribed. But are they happier?

What it comes down to, of course, is how each person defines happy.

Happy (adjective): feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life or situation

Now there's another concept ripe for discussion.

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