Last week saw my very first article being published by a third party (WordPress doesn’t count given it publishes in a non-discriminatory fashion). It is a landmark for me; very almost on a par with bringing Baby-Bel into the world (not least because there is no remuneration for the task at hand). It is a standalone piece of text; divorced from the pit of my personal musings in my head, on my ‘c’ drive, or on my blog; a living, breathing, independent entity, inviting criticism and reaction from the world at large (well, the world that reads that particular site) and I am no longer capable of shielding it with the unconditional love and positive bias that I have lavished on it while it has been under my wing.
The other novelty of being published by a third party, aside from the joy of seeing it standing so proud on its own two feet, is the process of being edited. It feels very much like getting dressed in the morning and being told to change one’s choice of outfit/ shoes/ makeup/ hair-do etc before stepping into the outside world because you aren’t deemed presentable enough in your current state. You need some tweaking; they don’t love you ‘just the way you are’, as Bridget Jones would say.
I am casual and light-heartedly graceful in accepting my edits, however, I can’t help but feel a slight pang of insult – vanity wounded. Being the mature grown up that I am, I feel I should be capable of rising above such matters of pride and take the positive criticism in my stride yet that little whisper at my shoulder is hard to ignore; telling me that my overzealous use of semicolons and lengthy sentences is not a passion shared (at least not by my editor, also a friend).
Anyhow, the following is my unabridged version. To be fair, very little has been edited (apart from the banishing of a handful of my best buddies, the semicolon). The introductory paragraph had to undergo a trim for purposes of standard word quotas but aside from that it is largely intact. For the first published version on 3rd February 2009 (play a game of ‘spot the difference’) see http://life.hereisthecity.com/sound_off/859.cntns . I have agreed a T+3 exclusivity wondow with HITC before republishing hence its delayed appearance here.
Today I hosted a play date for my 10 month old baby and her fellow baby pals – her social diary is infinitely more diverse than mine these days. I’m not sure whether she learnt any new tips or tricks (other than endorsing her status as queen bee of her own play mat) but what I learnt is that to covet is nature, not nurture.
My daughter has a lot of toys; most of which she doesn’t usually deem worthy of anything beyond a cursory glance before being tossed nonchalantly aside. When alone, that is, she’d much rather shred my unread magazines or eat my boots. But when faced with the possibility that said toys might pose the remotest interest to another baby, the covetous switch was flicked and she endeavoured (with a surprisingly determined vigour) to reclaim each and every toy with the possessiveness of Gollum and his Ring. And she wasn’t alone – it seemed the only toys in favour that day were those in favour with everyone else.
Inherent desirability ultimately escalates in line with how desirable something is to someone else; in fact the greater the number of people who desire an item, the greater its desirability; and conversely, desirability instantly declines when the masses deem it unworthy of desire. Wait list for a table at Nobu case in point. And would Hermes’ infamous Birkin and Kelly be quite so lust-worthy if the wait lists weren’t twice as long as the human gestation period?
And it seems that this is an instinct that is only honed, not waned, with age. We simply become more adept at fuelling the number of sources of covetable items; we also become better at sating those desires. We are a marketing dream – fuelling the fantasy lifestyle we covet, driving a never ending spiral of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, emulating that initial baby battleground.
I remember once trailing a woman around a sample sale for almost an hour, waiting and hoping for her to let go of that last pair of Louboutins (open toe, snakeskin slingbacks, very flattering on the ankles). Ironically I had tried them on five minutes before she picked them up and hadn’t particularly cared for them, especially as they were a size too big – now I was so obsessed about having them I was considering literally snatching them from her while her attention was diverted elsewhere. I know that had she let them go my crazed obsession would have diminished just as quickly as it had arisen. And likewise she probably was only hanging onto them like a lioness to a carcass because she could sense me sniffing around like a woman possessed. It’s likely she ended up buying them purely because I wanted them and it made her think she wanted them more as a by-product of that. Bizarre how the mind works.
So it appears we might be that bit older, with a few extra teeth, a little additional knowledge under the belt, and minus the nappy, but at the core we’re still just that baby fighting for that rattle.