Friday, March 4, 2016

Penelope, Abigail Adams, and the False Maid

I swear, it is an accident that my dog's name is Penelope. When I first saw her,  the association with her name, as given to her by her foster organization, was by far stronger with my grandmother's dog, whom we called "Penny-Dawg", than with Odysseus' wife.

It amuses me, of course, that the image used on the article I linked above, happens to be of Artemis: or Diana.

But "that" Penelope does have her plangent resonance in my life.

Still, I would hardly name a dog for the ongoing facts of my life, least of all the fact that for double-digit years now, the man who's ruined me for all the other boys happens to be someone who lives thousands of miles away.

Penelope was what she was called before I ever met her, and when they asked me what I was going to name her, I was genuinely bewildered. "She's clearly a Penelope."

It's a bouncy name, and she has always been a bouncy girl. Honestly, I feel like it has a happy sound to it. It has her energy, perfectly.

And she'd make a rotten Abigail, though Mrs. Adams is yet another famed example of a separated, devoted wife.

People find a separated relationship immensely peculiar - not to say, a stoning offense - in the modern world. Because we are short on wild frontiers, and it has become uncommon for people to strike out on their own to make their fortunes to support spouses and/or children, there is, in the contemporary mindset, no reason to hold out for anyone who is far away.

"Geographically undesirable" is a thing - a big thing - I have learned, in the years Mr. X has lived so far away.

And standardized definitions of what comprises acceptable relationships are a huge thing indeed.

"THAT'S not a boyfriend!" someone who barely knew me said upon hearing a bit about Mr. X. Yes, well, I was past forty even then, and the term "boyfriend" is embarrassing in any case. Whatever my relationship is or is not, I don't *want* a "boyfriend" because I am not in school anymore.

But thereby we fall into a linguistic vortex many of us have been swirling around ever since the concept of romantic relationships not firmly on a short course to marriage was invented, and this lies well beside the point of this post.

I quit engaging debates about the validity of my relationships years ago, and leave it with "Find me the man who's better, locally" when it ever comes up at all.

It comes up less, with advancing age. People look at a woman of forty-eight, and if she's single, she fits into a certain tidy box, and pestering her to get a man seems less a priority for strangers than it is when she is thirty-something.

I'm working on some short stories, turning on Penelope and perhaps Melantho, her false maid.

Stay tuned with me ... I'll share if it works out.

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