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Reinstating Pluto as a planet 0

Dear Bradshaw,

            As you know, Shaw, I’m married now, but what you might not know is that we’ve decided against having children. As much as we both love and adore kids, the fact is that we love and adore other people’s kids. In a sense, yes, we’re selfish. I’m dedicated to reading and writing, Francesca to homeopathy and massage therapy, and we want to spend our lives pursuing our passions, traveling, and making the most of our own lives and of our lives together. There are other issues, naturally, concern about the child being born (and then staying) healthy, lack of faith in the future and the world the child would inherit, and the heart-halting terror of the child’s teenage years.

            Despite our firm conviction against procreating, the ramifications we might suffer in our old age sometimes come to mind. After all, I’m paid by the hour and with the money I make retiring is as likely as reinstating Pluto as a planet. That means I’ll be working for the rest of my life and, well, let’s just say this, I don’t see many 80-year-old English teachers lumbering from one end of Rome to the other with a backpack full of language teaching materials. Heck, I even wonder if people will want and need to learn English forty years from now. What if China takes over and I need to pay to learn Chinese instead of being paid to teach English? After all, the only certain thing is that nothing is sure.

            When I see people begging on the streets of Rome, I often wonder about the stories of their lives. How’d they end up there? And what are the chances I could end up at their side? Some are seated on benches or overturned buckets. Others are hunched against the nook of a building or prostrated in prayer. They are burn victims and people lacking limbs or with other physical deformities. Some are lost souls who stare at the air as if a lifetime of pain and suffering has severed their contact with reality. Many are gypsies, committed to a life of poverty and who are seemingly healthy and whole. I even see young men and women dressed in designer jeans or with locks of hair dyed blonde or burgundy. Once I saw a girl kneeling on a folded length of cardboard. She was begging alms while talking on her cell phone. It seems anyone could end up there and, I must admit, sometimes I wonder if some of them used to teach English.

            That’s it, Shaw, my thought for the week. I just can’t imagine bringing children into this world when I have enough trouble taking care of myself. I don’t know, pal, and that’s the problem. For now, I’m going to uncork this bottle of wine, fill my glass, and forget about the rest.

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