Last week, in a moment of frustration, EIC Jennifer Wright asked, “Should I just quit my job and get married?” It was supposed to be funny, but deputy editor Ashley Cardiff couldn’t entirely tell if she was joking. Now they’re curious: if given the option, would we spend our days watching TV and having no responsibilities? The answer is “Maybe” and also “adult babies.”
Jennifer: So, we’re debating “should we just get married and quit our jobs?” Does this not seem a little presumptuous of us? As though we think that at any moment we could call on any number of young gallants and they would take us away from all of this?
Ashley: Whoa whoa whoa, I thought this was called, “Should I just quit my job and get married?” because that’s what you asked me, while aggravated about something last week, the sarcasm of which was ambiguous. Hence…
Jennifer: Oh. And I made those words backwards. And plural. I don’t want to go alone. I thought we could be like Lorelei and Dorothy in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Give up our life of hustling and have a splashy song and dance wedding.
Ashley: Let’s back up a bit and maybe you can start by saying why that’s appealing? Other than the obvious appeal of “not working,” which–for real–would drive both of us insane.
Jennifer: Sometimes I just get really tired. And I think “what would it be like to nap in the middle of the day?” And cook like, an entire meal? Mostly napping. I think every PERSON who works fantasizes about this – however, weirdly, I think a culture still exists where if a woman leaves her job to get married – rather than retiring at 60 or 65 or whatever – it’s socially acceptable. Not that many people would judge you for leaving your job if you said “I want to prioritize having a family.” I mean if you were a man that would be… not an option.
Ashley: I fantasize about not working all the time, but if I didn’t work, I would quickly put my head through a wall. [time passes] Wait. Actually. Actually I’m lying. I would probably read more and paint and do all kinds of awesome shit. Sorry for being a liar.
Jennifer: I wouldn’t. I find that my anxieties will expand to fill whatever space is allotted to them. I am a much more relaxed person at work than I am on vacation because I have a series of tasks that I have to focus on getting through.
Ashley: I’m not. I really want to say, “Ah, I love working, I need to work or I’ll go crazy, I’m too neurotic…” but that’s just… not true. If I didn’t work, I’d wake up at 9, go to the gym for a while, walk to the grocery store, decide what to make for lunch, come home, start lunch, maybe read a book while it’s cooking… this sounds amazing, I would not go crazy. I would be delighted.
Jennifer:My fantasy is that someone bundles me up in like, six or seven duvets and hugs me really tightly through them and then turns on some classic old movies and leaves briefly to make me an ice cream sundae. After spoon feeding me that sundae, they can resume patting my hair. If my non-working scenario could be like that, I think I’d be happy. But all my limbs would atrophy.
Ashley: You know, I think I need to clarify and say I don’t fantasize about not working, so much as I fantasize about not working in a office. I like having work to do, and I think that is important for mental well-being, but I do not like waking up early to get on the subway and come here and sit under fluorescent lights in this sea of cubicles.
Jennifer: “Little bird” this sort of nameless, disembodied amorphous non-person would murmur as they stroked my hair. I’d feel so safe! Ashley: Okay, I think what we’re driving at here is the tension between who we are/what we’re able to accomplish and traditional gender roles. And also that you have weird infantilizing ice cream sundae fantasies. Are you wearing a sailor suit under the blanket, too??
Jennifer:I wear the pajamas with the feet on them. My true goal is to crawl back inside a womb. It’s why I do so much pilates.
Ashley: Well, that’s terrifying. So… I’m confused. Do you want to quit or job and get married or not? Or… I guess, do you want to quit your job and become an adult baby?
Jennifer: I’m kind of making fun of the concept, but also pretty serious. I think work is perhaps the defining feature of being an adult. And I think sometimes I want to be a child as I never was as an actual child. I mean, I was a neurotic little thing who kept second guessing, at five, whether I had gotten “too mature” for stuffed animals. I can see the appeal of being some sort of pampered trophy wife. But… I don’t seem to like it when people try to take care of me in real life? If someone tried that duvet-old-movie-ice-cream thing I’d… That sounds great, actually. Maybe I could be a little bit sick so I didn’t feel guilty about being all wrapped up in blankets. I’m confused.
Ashley: I think what you’re saying is… you’re impossible. Er. “Dynamic.”
Jennifer: Should I quit my job and become a woman-child?
Ashley: More to the point, yes. This isn’t very good timing, what with currently hosting a theme week based specifically on shedding the yoke of woman-childom. Jennifer: No. I do feel like the virtuous thing is to reject that impulse, thereby upping the odds that you will produce valuable work and contribute to those around you. It’s pretty easy to do since I do not have a kind of shadowy-non-person hugging machine to spoon feed me sundaes.
Ashley: I feel like we don’t really know what to say here. If the question is, “Should I quit my job and get married?” the answer is, “No,” because 1) I like working and 2) I don’t want to marry someone who’d willingly foster my most base, self-indulgent impulses.
Jennifer: I think almost no husband exists to foster one’s most indulgent impulses except… Hugh Hefner?
Jennifer: I could never stop working, because the alternative doesn’t exist. I mean, sure, my ideal is living in a sleepy dream-world filled with engaging movies and sundaes and someone petting my inexplicably clean hair. But since that is not an option in the human world, and I have no illusions that would happen if I quit my job to marry.
Ashley: …So why ask the question?
Jennifer: I just wanted to see if you would volunteer to bundle me up and call me little bird and keep me safe forever. But you didn’t, so, fuck you.
Ashley: Shit. I’m really selfish.
Jennifer: Go read your “books”. Make your “lunch.”
Ashley: Being a modern woman sure is hard. We’ve been cast from our traditional roles into this cold, unfeeling world of… palm pilots? I don’t know. I think if I quit my job completely, I’d probably just get really into weird stuff like breaking obscure Guinness world records or pheasant hunting or finishing my fantasy novel about dragon world plagued by civil war. No one should have limitless free time. It’s bad for the brain. But the first two weeks? Those would be incredible. I think that’s all there is to it.
Jennifer: I would go pheasant hunting with you and call myself “Little Bird.”
Ashley: This is how it starts, Jen. Next thing you know, I’m going to be warming milk for you in the office kitchen and then things are gonna get weird.
Jennifer: I can’t wait to let my limbs atrophy!