I’m a dangerous person on a bus. Or on any public situation, really, in which I am alone and stuck in one place, and therefore have an opportunity to overhear other people’s conversations. You see, I suffer from this psychological condition known as “being an insufferable know-it-all.” If I hear someone say something that I know is false, or make an argument in which I can see an obvious flaw, I instantly feel a nigh-irrepressible urge to butt-in and ‘correct’ them. For example, once when I was on a bus in Winnipeg, I practically blew out one of my kidneys from the effort required for me to not blurt out an obscure bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer trivia that the people in front of me just could not seem to remember*.
Today, I had the misfortune of hearing the person in front of me advancing a stupendously bad argument in favour of having children. It went something like this (or rather, exactly like this): “I’ve never heard anyone say that they regret having children!”
And here’s why it’s stupendously bad:
First of all, presumably most of the people who have children are the ones who, after much soul-searching, decided that they in fact wanted children. And presumably the people who want children in the first place are less likely to regret having them later on. So right away, you have what statisticians would call a “selection bias.”
Secondly, and this is the critical one, what kind of monster, having children, would publicly admit that he or she wished that they had never been born?!? Children are genetically predisposed to look up to their parents, love them unconditionally, and accept every word that they say as the gospel truth, and parents should be responsible for them. You would have to be a pretty big jerk indeed to tell such a person that they are nothing more than a worthless drain on time and resources and that you would be happier if they had never existed at all. And you certainly wouldn’t tell anyone else if you felt that way even if you did, because you would suspect that most people, upon hearing that, may well start to think that you are unfit to be a parent.
In any case, at least I now know that if ever I am cast down into Hell as a punishment for multitudinous sins, in will take the form of a crowded room full of people being spectacularly wrong while I’m incapable of saying anything.
*For the curious, the conversation went something like this:
Girl in front of me: “…And do you remember the episode where everything that Willow said started to come true except she didn’t know it?”
Other Girl: “Oh yeah! And she made Giles blind and made Spike and Buffy want to marry each other, and…wait, what did she do to Xander again?”
Me: She turned him into a literal demon-magnet.
GIFM: “Oh what waaas it! Damn, I’m not going to be able to remember…”
Me: She turned him into a literal demon-magnet!
OG: “Oh man. She made Giles blind, she made Spike and Buffy marry each other, and Xander…Xander…?”
Me: For f**’s sake, what is wrong with you people? She turned him into a literal demon magnet!!!”