Tuesday, April 2, 2013


One of the things that has always left me a little surprised is how little my children know about their friends ... even the friends they like the best. When I ask what such a friend might study or love or find offensive, as often as not they will reply, "I don't know."

I guess I thought of this today because I went to the dentist for a cleaning. The young woman who cleaned my teeth was new to me. In a half-hour's cleaning, most of which time was spent on my teeth, I found out that Ally lived in Agawam, about 20 miles from here; came from Russia when she was little, had two children (a girl, 4, and a boy, 1) "and one in the oven;" that her husband came from Ukraine and insisted that it was not at all the same as coming from Russia; that he was a car mechanic; that Ally was the 12th child in her family; that her parents were religious, that she planned to have "five children, not 12;" and that it had taken a total of four years to get the dental training that allowed her to clean teeth.

I'm not saying I think there is any special virtue in asking questions -- nosy or otherwise -- but I am curious that others can seem to be incurious. To me, not asking questions is like going through life reading the dust covers on books but never settling down to ingest even chapter one of a novel.

I guess it helps that I worked as a newspaper reporter and became aware pretty quickly that almost everyone likes to tell their story, though they may carefully edit it. And for those who get more honest, I also think they are dying to tell the unedited version ... to themselves at least and to others at best. Social secrecies are too lonely and require too much effort.

Maybe I'm all wrong about this. Maybe my children and others have different ways of being curious and finding things out. No doubt there's a new Apple ap or a faster car. But conceivably as well, they just don't care or have such a narrowed spectrum of caring that noticing the blue socks is enough.

Who knows?

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