While I was getting prepped for dental work the other day, the dental technician began to make what I thought would be the usual make-the-patient-comfortable pre-op chit-chat. I wasn’t especially interested in this – something about the technician seemed a little . . . off – but I couldn’t exactly ignore her.
“Are you married?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Do you have any children?”
“How old are they?”
“Six and ten.”
“Wow, you’re just getting started!”
Really? “They’re at their grandparents this week, and frankly I’m enjoying the break.”
“Yeah, sending my children to my parents house wasn’t really an option for me.”
I really, really wanted to let this go by; unfortunately, the dentist had arrived.
“What’s the problem? They managed to raise you okay,” he piped up.
“Well, my father was a pedophile. That’s why I left home as young as I did.”
Sweet! Baby! Gherkins! In which ring of hell did you learn chairside patter?
Now, on the one hand, I inferred that the technician was married with children of her own, and of course I wish her every happiness. But leaving aside the fact that I thought she was weird, this kind of claim, delivered in that way and in those circumstances, said nothing good about her even were we to take it at face value. Goodness knows what kind of evil lurked in her genes, let alone the mental scars she bore personally. I rather doubt that she enjoys even the average chance at domestic stability.
But I don’t recall giving much weight to that kind of thing back when I was single. Given where I sought relationships, I had applied a filter for religion and probably education and class, but otherwise my criteria were: (1) does she meet my attractiveness threshold and (2) does she give me the time of day. I was mainly lucky (or rather, providentially blessed) to have fallen in with a girl from a quality family and with so many personal qualities I didn’t think to care about.
The dental technician, as it happened, was nowhere near my attractiveness threshold, but let’s consider Amy Adams’ character in the movie Sunshine Cleaning. Now, at 34 (when the movie was made), Adams looks as cute as a button, but let’s also look at her character’s history:
- Her mother committed suicide. That’s a “family history of mental and emotional instability.”
- Her father has a spotty employment record, characterized by small-time get-rich-quick schemes operating close to the line of legality.
- While she probably doesn’t meet the technical definition of “slut”, she’s spent her adult romantic life having an adulterous affair with the ex-high-school-quarterback she dated in high school. As Roissy would say, she chose “five minutes of alpha.”
- In the mean time, she hasn’t done much with her life except having an illegitimate son by (presumably) the married ex-quarterback. I don’t put much stock in women having careers, but to reach the age of 34 (or whatever her age is supposed to be in the movie) without college or a career or a husband is kind of loserish.
In a fit of self-awareness, she quits the adultery and resolves to turn her life around. It’s easy to see her gracing her romantic attention on a “nice guy”/beta under these circumstances. But does her resolution mean that she becomes a good LTR bet for the beta?
Frankly, I think not, at least not in real life. On the other hand, a girl who looked and acted like Amy Adams would be impossible for a still-single version of me to turn down, regardless of her unfavorable background.
On a third hand, it was just a movie. In real life, perhaps women with that kind of past don’t really have the disposition that Adams projects in movies. Perhaps, to the extent it mattered, a bad history would assert itself in other incompatibilities of personality such that I wouldn’t really have to consciously take the history into account.