Tuesday, July 28, 2009


This happened in an elevator vestibule the size of a large coffin. Level B2. The parking garage across the street from the Royal Ontario Museum.

Through the glass, a woman is running towards me. Arms out, shouting. I don't understand her at first and then the doors close behind me. Damn, she says, pushing into the crowded coffin, now I'll have to wait for the next one. I feel obliged to apologize, like a knee jerk. And then I fix a stare on her.

I am wheeling a two-child buggy, an empty two-child buggy because one of said children is hanging in a harness from my torso and the other is attempting to make a mad dash toward the headlights catching some tracktime around the garage's blind corners. I have one foot propping open the coffin door (through which my new friends steps) and am steering with one hand and a hip.

Clearly and from any angle, I am in no position to catch and hold an elevator door for anyone: the Pope, Jesus, Elvis-incarnate, or the woman with the expensive purse who is now sulking at me as she leans against the vestibule wall. She watches me, unfazed, as I maneuver around her like a haggard Shiva with my tribe of children and gear.

Thanks! I shout sarcastically over my shoulder just before the glass door clicks closed. I see her face and it registers nothing.

This was not today. This was weeks ago. And still I think about it, not because I'm angry (I'm still a little angry) but because I also wonder if I am in the wrong. Or, rather, if I processed these events in the wrong way.

Solipsism, philosophically, is the theory that only the self (myself, not yourself) can be proved to exist. Colloquially, it is complete absorption with one's own needs, feelings, and thoughts to the exclusion of all others' (thank you, dictionary.com).

Did it occur to me that the expensive-purse-lady's need to get to and on the elevator could be equal to my need to get off and out of it? Was her expectation that I might catch and hold the closing doors for her any more imposing than my expectation that she might hold the vestibule door for me as I left?

Well, umm, no. But I have kids. And there it is. That spawners' entitlement. It was all the uproar around fine-dining restaurants and office watercoolers not long ago.

Who do they think they are bringing a 3-year-old here on a Saturday night to sneeze boogers into my cocktail...

I have to work a 12-hour day because Johnny's precious little has a solo performance at his pre-school's African drumming recital...

In fact, a couple years back, there was a big brouhaha here in Toronto around whether or not people should give up their transit seats for pregnant women. "I worked all day, my feet hurt, and I'm smart enough to use a condom, so suck it up preggo," versus "What about compassion and the miracle of life you bleeping bleep-hole." (For the record, I never verbally asked anyone to give up their seat for my pregnant body but shamelessly stared sitters down while rubbing my belly and projecting misery. It was about 75% effective).

Last week my dad jibed me a bit, saying - in effect - that I have matured as a person in so much as my self-centeredness has now expanded to include my children. He was joking. Sort of. I acted quite put off, but the thing is, he's kindof right. I wonder if kids are just a guise or a good excuse for complete ego centrism, constituting a bigger circle of self in which to be absorbed.

Or maybe that lady was just a bitch.

Tonight's Dinner:

- Grilled rack of lamb
- Spinach and Matzoh Pie (try it, you like it.)
- Greek salad


  1. I would have tried to catch the elevator for her- MAYBE. If it was impossible, I would have told myself that and then not given it another thought. Otherwise, I would have tried. Because rather than being self-and-babies-centered, I am powered on a high horse. "Look at me! I can do all this AND hold the door for you too! I am ever so clever! And you can barely make it to the elevator on your own!" That is definitely not better (it's the inner judgementalism that I admitted to when we were looking at our personalities in that birthday book). It's different. We all have our own ways.

    But my horse is so high that if I decided that I couldn't catch the elevator for her bc my needs were greater, I would not reflect on it at all. Clearly I was in the right. : )

    Your dad's comment is funny. Definitely true of me when I have a newborn. He's right in that your sense of self expands to include your kids and that you protect their needs with even more fervor than you protect your own needs. This could look like self-entitlement.

    But you're not a self-centered person. You are a lioness caring for her brood. And you also care deeply for those you love and for causes that are important for the world. I would say that you focus your passion and kindness on what you care about. That is not the same as solipsism (and thanks for the new SAT word).

  2. I wouldn't worry about it: this lady probably doesn't even exist outside of your own mind.