July 26, 2002
If you live long enough and do enough
things, you're sure to end up on someone's mailing list. This is
especially true if you've gone to university.
My former university is pretty sure that
I've now had long enough to make it to the big time. So they figure
there's no reason I shouldn't be asked to pony up for a new library
wing, football uniforms, or buying new computers so freshmen can
look up Internet porn at the library a hundred times faster.
Not only does my former university get some
fresh-faced student volunteer to call me at least once a month
asking for cash, they send me the alumni magazine listing all the
people who aren't too cheap to send them a few bucks.
While I don't keep up with many of the
people I knew at university (except of course my wife, who I still
manage to see fairly regularly), I always look through the back
section that lists births, deaths, marriages and notes.
"Notes" are for people who want
you to know they've won either the Nobel Prize or fourth place at
the Weyburn frog calling contest. It's also for people begging to
get a year's worth of cold calls from insurance salesmen and people
selling llama raising franchises.
When I went through the alumni magazine this
month, I noticed something odd. The "marriages" column was
gone, and in its place was a new heading simply called
At first I thought it was to notify readers
which of our former fellow students had finally been committed to a
home for the mentally disadvantaged. Looking back on my university
days, there was no shortage of potential inmates, including the guy
who forced his dog to be a vegetarian or the person who hid in the
library so he could continue to study after hours. I also recall the
house full of guys who kept a pig in the basement so he could be
taken to football games.
But apparently the "commitments"
column is something far less exciting. Judging from the listings,
it's still mostly devoted to wedding announcements, so why the
change? Is it because the word "marriage" doesn't seem
like that much of a commitment on its own any more?
Statistics Canada says that a lot of
Canadians are choosing to live together instead of getting married.
While married people get a big deal wedding to mark the occasion,
POSSLQs (Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters) rarely
have much of a fuss made about them. Maybe they have a few friends
over to "see the new place", but it hardly holds a candle
to a full scale reception where Uncle Ernie gets sloppy drunk,
dances the Lambada with a centrepiece on his head and the bride
locks herself in the bathroom. Maybe marking the beginning of happy
cohabitation with a notice under "commitments" will help
unmarried couples share their good news without having to go through
the needless trauma of a wedding.
I also wondered if they were trying to
expand the category to include people who would otherwise feel left
out. The recent ruling in Ontario that gives the government two
years to fix the law that prevents gay couples from registering
their marriages kind of leaves everyone in limbo, so maybe this is a
way to reach out to these disenfranchised guys and gals.
After all, who needs the Charter of Rights
when you can validate your relationship with an announcement of your
"commitment" in your university alumni magazine?