Felicitations on the Lesser of Two Feats

By Cyberquill 03/28/20108 Comments

Birds do it, bees do it, squirrels do it. All animate entities on this planet—and most likely extraterrestrials as well—are programmed by nature to multiply. Procreation happens automatically. It requires no special training, no talent, no skill, and no higher intellect. In all of nature, there’s no such thing as “too dumb to procreate.” Any living being too dumb to produce offspring would also be too dumb to respire or to convert sunlight into chlorophyll, i.e., be non-viable right out of the gate.

Even potatoes know how to multiply, hence the ingenuity of a potato is all it takes.

In addition to the necessary skill set being already built in, all living creatures are endowed with an inherent drive to procreate, and a pretty powerful one at that. So aside from no skill and no intellect, no more effort is required to effect conception than it takes to sit back, relax, and leave the driving to Mother Nature.

What does require a measure of skill, on the other hand, is to prevent procreation from occurring. One must possess at least a scintilla of intellectual prowess to be able to follow a pill regimen or to properly don a condom, and it certainly takes a lot more effort to exercise restraint—either by retreating in time or by abstaining from potential procreation-inducing activities altogether—than it takes to refrain from actively and consciously interfering with nature’s programming. Breathing is easier than holding one’s breath, and all contraceptive methods reside far beyond the intellectual reach of a squirrel.

This—to forestall yet another predictable knee-jerk objection besides the infertility issue—is not to suggest that there’s anything “wrong” with procreation per se, that babies aren’t cute, that having them isn’t a wonderful thing, blah-blah-blah, nor that women who become pregnant, or the men who contributed to the condition, or both, were simply too dumb to prevent it.

My point is merely that to achieve conception is a lot easier than to prevent it.

So then how come people, in general, are much more inclined to issue felicitations when a pregnancy has been brought on than when one has been prevented even though the latter was more difficult to achieve?

Certainly, raising a child into becoming a productive member of society can be considered an achievement, but no such raising has yet taken place at the time the felicitations are issued.

Anytime we encounter a non-pregnant woman of reproductive age, chances are some preventive skill and effort are in play, yet no one congratulates her or her mate on their accomplishment.

If, on the other hand, we encounter an expecting lady, no skill or effort were needed to bring about her condition, and if prevention was attempted, it obviously failed. Yet she and her guy will be treated as if they just won a bunch of medals in the Olympics.

Every baby bump picture on Facebook is followed by a list of congratulatory comments a mile long. No bump, no congratulations.

I don’t have kids (at least not to my knowledge), and I’ve never been complicit in any begetting (ditto), yet no one has ever congratulated me for the skill and effort I’ve put in over the years to accomplish this feat. Granted, not exactly an overwhelming amount of skill and effort in absolute terms, but certainly quite a fraction more than it would have taken me to share my chromosomes, in which case I would have been swamped with wows like I had passed the bar or completed a novel.

Methinks we’ve got it backwards.

PS: Infertility is a separate issue which does not bear on my central point. For the sake of providing a concise and streamlined presentation, I have omitted prefacing every single statement in this post with “Except in the case of infertility…”


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  • http://www.testazyk.com Thomas Stazyk

    Read my story “The Wedding” for my views on the subject.

    Where you are do they have special parking places at the mall for expectant women?

    • http://www.cyberquill.com/about_us.php Cyberquill

      If the server became upset, Tyler would withhold their tip because they “needed to get a sense of humor.”

      Ha!!! It seems I’ve waited on quite a few Tylers over the years, although more than a sense of humor, they probably thought I needed to get a different job.

      Nice story. This sentence caught my eye:

      To you and I, casual observers, it looked like a scene which had been, and probably would continue to be, played out thousands, no, millions of times.

      To I, this looks like an instance of so-called hyper-correction, i.e., going overboard with the I when it really should be me.

      While it is technically correct to say It was I who knocked over the vase, it would, for instance, be wrong to say He saw my sister and I having a fist fight. Not because I don’t have a sister or because it’s not nice to punch girls, but because the verb see takes the accusative case, hence me.

      I is nominative. Me is both dative and accusative. Most prepositions, including to, and most verbs (other than forms of to be) require either dative or accusative, which, in German, would be mir or mich respectively.

      In English, me stands for both mir and mich. English, of course, sprang from German, and the few cases it has left correspond to German cases.

      Therefore, to you and me, casual observers, it looked like a scene which…

      Anyway, I’m just frustrated because I’ve never been able to crank out a single piece of fiction in my life.

      • http://www.testazyk.com Thomas Stazyk

        Right you are. Humbled am I.

      • http://www.cyberquill.com/about_us.php Cyberquill

        Oh, and I’m in NYC, not in mall country. I don’t have a car, and I know nothing about special parking spaces, neither for expectant mothers nor for space aliens.

  • http://andreaskluth.org/ Andreas

    “induce a pregnancy” is a poor choice of words in this context, since it happens to mean something more specific nowadays: to take drugs to begin the actual process of labor at a point of one’s choosing (which is done much too often and is not a good idea).

    that aside, Congratulations.

    • http://www.cyberquill.com/about_us.php Cyberquill

      Beggar that I am, I am even poor in choices, but I thank you for bringing this to my attention. All inducing has been eliminated and replaced.

  • http://www.cheriblocksabraw.com cheri

    aardvark here!

    in which case I would have been swamped with wows like I had passed the bar or completed a novel.

    Since you have been so kind to offer grammatical help to me, I thought I might return the favor.

    the word like is either a preposition or a verb, not a subordinating conjunction. You might consider replacing the word like with as if

    aardvark has scampered off and don’t question my choice of the verb scampered for an aardvark.

    and with (not in) regard to the point of your post, bravo, bravo, bravo (similar to blah, blah, blah) for not contributing more children to this planet.

    We could use more wit, so maybe….

    • http://www.cyberquill.com/about_us.php Cyberquill

      As if was my original pick, but then I replaced it with like for the sake of variety, because I had already used an as if construction two paragraphs earlier. I wasn’t expecting an aardvark to swoop down on it. (Don’t question my choice of the verb swoop for an aardvark, but it still sounds like a bird to me.)

      And you’re right: it’s blah-blah-blah and not blablabla. Thank you.

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