I may not continue reading Angels and Demons. #2 son read it — his entire posse read it and The Da Vinci Code — and recommended it to me, although he warned me that it had some shocking content. My kids are very good about shielding me from shocking things. I have only read one chapter so far, and it is obviously going to be a fairly gory book, which is already a negative. But the main problem is that it is such a Guy Book.
It is not that I don’t like to read books by men. Some of my favorite authors are men. But books in which the descriptions of cars are more detailed than the descriptions of people’s feelings seem directly intended for guys. You just know they are going to be filled with action — which is fine — and not very witty, which is not fine. It really isn’t about subject matter, any more than it is about gender. Salt (which was about salt) and The Botany of Desire (about plants), both written by men, were very witty and interesting. Indeed, there are books of the same Guy Book stripe written by women. For example, Jean Auel’s The Shelters of Stone is roughly 900 pages in which the characters never think anything more interesting than “Gee, what a glamorous cavewoman!”, interspersed with sex scenes and lengthy descriptions of rocks and herbs and other bits of prehistoric technology. I don’t know whether that makes it a Girl Book or not. I do not normally read such books, but this was for Book Club, so I slogged through it. Book Club is not doing Angels and Demons, though. #2 son, by the way, would say that this attitude of mine is intolerably sexist. He is very concerned with human rights, and good for him, say I.
The other offensive thing I am doing is calling my kids “#1 son” and so on. When one of them questioned it, I said, “But it’s from Charlie Chan,” in a plonking voice. Charlie Chan was pretty offensive, of course, but I figured it was still famous enough that people would recognize the reference. He always called his oldest son “Number One Son.” And, of course, so on. I think it just meant the oldest, and was not a judgement of any kind.
I don’t want to use the names of living people here. I am not deeply concerned about internet privacy. I know some people who are, and all I can say is, their lives must be much more interesting than mine. But it is possible that some person who is not a member of my family might stumble onto this site and — well, there’s the thing. I have no idea what they might do. This may be why I am not more concerned than I am about internet privacy. The only things I can think of are luring my innocent children into a chat room and convincing them to meet up somewhere for an abduction, or stealing my identity for financial purposes. This is all I have read about in the news. Oh, well, I guess they could also scour my words for evidence of insider trading or sexual indiscretions in the Oval Office, but see above for “their lives must be more interesting…” In any case, I think my kids have been well-warned about abductions, and anyone stealing my identity for financial purposes will be disappointed.
Nonetheless, I will state it for the record: Number One Son and Number One Daughter are merely older than, not more precious to me than, Number Two Son and Number Two Daughter. This is a family, not an orchestra.