Sunday, July 30, 2006

Untrained Melody

We were at a potluck on Vashon Island the other night and after dinner, it was all girls sitting around talking except me, so—in part because I wasn’t all that into the gabfest and in part because we eventually had to catch a ferry and I knew it would speed up the process of getting ready to go—I went into the kitchen and did all the dishes.

Afterwards, one of the women remarked to Jen and loud enough so I could hear, that I was “well-trained.” I’m sure she meant it as a compliment but it kind of pissed me off.

I don’t fancy myself “trained” at all. I’m a fuckin’ rebel, man; they’re lucky I didn’t smash all the crockery and pass out in the corner with a liplock on a bottle of bourbon.

I recall an old Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle story, I think it was, in which there was a smartmouthed kid whose mantra was “I’ll do it because I want to, not because you told me to.” That’s me through-and-through.

I’m not “trained” to do the dishes; I simply weighed the pros and cons of doing them and made a reasonable decision that it was in my best interest to do so. If my cost/benefit analysis had come out differently, I would have stayed in the garden gossiping with the ladies.

I did dishes long before I was married; nobody got out a whip and chair to compel me to clean up after myself.

Training is what you do to dogs; suggesting that one “trains” a human being is certainly demeaning to the person, and probably, in some cases, to the pet.

Aristotle describes the training involved in developing virtuous character, but there’s a cognitive component to that, as well. To be virtuous is to behave as the virtuous person would at the right time, for the right reasons.

I don’t want to be “well-trained,” I just want to be a good person.


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