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Boys, girls and puppy dog tales

Lila by the brook, originally uploaded by leyaevelyn.

In a fit of affection and longing this morning, I asked Lila to marry me. She didn’t say yes; she didn’t say no. She just looked at me with her deep brown eyes, cocked her head, wagged her tail and must have thought I was a bit nuts.

The day before yesterday, I heard, on the radio, a woman from Sweden talking about how they have revised their teaching curriculum for the younger students in order to involve gender neutrality. Boy and girl toys are mixed into one location. Motorcars with dolls. And if a girl wants to play with a train while her boy friend plays with a stuffed animal, no one sees a problem, especially not the children The result is the boys and girls play together without gender discrimination. There is more mingling amongst the boys and girls. One big happy playground.

So why not animal neutrality. Lila and I live together already. A major part of my day revolves around making sure she gets enough exercise, enough food, affection. So I guess that would make me the wife. But on the other hand, I’m supposed to be the top dog, the disciplinarian, the arbitrator, so, maybe, that would make me the husband.

I grew up to think of boys and men as a different species. I’ve since worked on that concept in my paintings. By putting images of men in my life, current, past, living, dead and imaginary, into the work, writing over that (I won’t tell you or anyone what I say) and then painting over that. It has been very helpful. It’s all done without analyzing or conceptualizing, just feeling my way through it with paint. These days some of my best friends are men. And it hasn’t hurt the paintings at all.


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