To observe the decline of a race, it is enough to take a family. At 42 years old, my father had a wife, four children, several houses, many employees. At 42 years old, if I ask myself what I have, I am afraid to answer myself: trips to destinations whoresnuanced opinions on the araucana or the hare à la royale and the ability, if someone twists my wrist, to name 25 Piedmont wineries in three minutes. If I had to answer that other question —almost a sentence— that Seamus Heaney asked himself every day — “what have you done with your life, Seamus?” —, I could only say: “Your Honor, I drank it”. I say it with the passion of someone who recites their ID over the phone: none.
Drinking, smoking and reading have been, yes, great thanks: others like the trekking! But oh time, your name is revenge, and while we were searching for the rainbow crouching at the end of each bar, what were the others doing with their lives? Buy high chairs, traffic with the name of the best pediatricians. It doesn’t make me feel particularly good to have cared about books or wines more than children: the problem is that it doesn’t make me feel particularly bad either. I confess, yes, a certain astonishment when realizing that, over the years, the crying of a baby has caused me to lose fewer hours of sleep than Mr. Tanqueray, Fortunata and Jacinta or, it is useless to deny it, Elvis Crespo.
The surprise is even greater when verifying that a) I always thought that the children would arrive, while b) I have done everything possible to dribble the altar, believe myself to be a fox and not have them. I could blame the contemporary age, which gives us more options to live our life, but not to sequence it. To the change in the mores sexual, which enhances variety (and flatters vanity). to work demands. To the fear of commitment, allied to today’s mentality according to which there is always something better just around the corner. Connolly said that “the cradle in the hall” is one of the great enemies of writing, but it is not circumstances that make us diligent or drones. The call of the bohemia? Nah: I want the colorless life of a deputy general manager of agricultural insurance or a middle position in Winterthur. The truth is the truth: I have not had children because I have not wanted to, period. And if I enjoy the undoubted comfort of not having them, it is inevitable to get a little uncomfortable and wonder about it. Eye: wonder. Don’t go asking around.
Living abroad, however, everyone shoots: “Did you come with family?” With that they are not referring to your great-aunt from El Burgo de Osma. When someone says that he is alone, I have observed two possible reactions, often mixed: the first consists of looking at you with immense pity, as if they already saw you dying alone; the second adjudicates you a baroque or statistically infrequent sexuality. Sometimes I myself have wanted to joke: “No, no, I don’t have a family: I prefer a healthy approach to promiscuity.” But it’s not a joke.
Of course, if you don’t have children, nothing happens: it’s not going to be like the decline of the Trastámara either, and there are enough nephews to doubt whether we are a family or a plague. But I wonder if there isn’t something a little more true in worrying about a child’s mumps than in worrying —real case— about buying more Murano glasses or stabbing the dressing room. My own childhood is something I wish on anyone, and since then I have idealized even the trips piled up in the car: I have been an enthusiast of the birth rate, as long as it was someone else’s.
Plato, Dante and even Los Chunguitos have made valuable contributions about love, but the best love literature was not given to us by any poet in heat: we find it in the letters that, “without stopping crying or dying”, he wrote to his daughter Madame de Sevigne. Suffice it to say that the issue is not minor, even for those of us who deal with it not so much from desire as from hypothesis. Sometimes I think that I have not seen happier parents than gray-haired parents, and there is a human curiosity in peering into the face of the child, “where love invents its infinity.” Finally: what to do? What moral to get out of life? Maybe we’ll have a baby as healthy as a fresh cheese, or maybe we’ll continue spending our share of bottles in Macallan. Mariano Rajoy, that moralist, already knew how to see that “it’s very difficult all this”.
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