The above line is usually the second question in a conversation, to wit:
Acquaintance: “Where does Lizy/Maria go to school?”
Me: [Give name of college]
Acquaintance: “Does she love it?”
It’s hard to know what the right answer is. I usually say something along the lines of: “Well, ‘love,’ I’m not sure that’s in our family lexicon, she seems to be getting a lot out of it, ask me in five minutes, I’m sure things will have changed, heh.”
I don’t know why this is such a common question. You’re not often asked if you or family members “love” other major life changes: new marriage, new baby, new house, new job, etc. I think the love-college query may be a (probably unwitting) sort of passive-aggressive commentary on the nasty, brutish and long process of college admissions in our segment of America. In other words: “Your offspring sure went through enough pain to secure her spot at that school. I hope it was worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears.”
Like I say, “love” really isn’t in our family’s active vocabulary (except when we’re talking about each other, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Alfred Hitchcock, Jamie Oliver and/or fried clams!). So my personal version of “does she love it” is obsessing on the question “Is my kids’ college educations worth $410 K?” (changed from 400K now that nearly 60 colleges, including Vassar, charge more than $50,000 a year).
Sometimes the Magic 8-Ball responds:
On those occasions, I am usually thinking of things related to David Brooks’ idea of “emotional education” (see three posts down). Like the fact that we are going up to Vassar this weekend to see a theater production of “Rear Window,” staged by Lizy, who adapted it from that very same Hitchcock’s film.
Back in high school and before, she was involved, sometimes heavily involved, in the local musical theater scene. If asked “Did she love it?”, the 8-Ball would probably respond, “Outlook Not So Good.” These enterprises had a definite “Waiting for Guffman” vibe—not so much the quality of the productions, which was pretty darned good, but the pecking-order cliques, and the general luvvy-ish behavior. At Vassar, she decided, “I want to direct,” and by gum she did, putting on ripping productions of Don DeLillo’s “Love-Lies-Bleeding,” the two-actor, fifteen-character “Stones in His Pockets,” and now this very ambitious Hitchcock deal. Seeing the ingenuity, vision, craft, heart and effort she and the cast and crew bring to these plays is a Mastercard moment for me: priceless.
As for Maria, she is restaurant critic for the Oldest College Daily, giving the word on local restaurant and putting her recipes online. She is getting to meet people like Jacques Pepin, who gave an intimate cooking demonstration on campus a few weeks back, and many many other luminaries.
At those times I guess I would have to answer the question with a paraphrase of the classic lines from “Fiddler on the Roof”:
Do they love it?/Do they love it?/I suppose they do./And I suppose I love it, too.