First up, wolverines got a mention in the New York Times last Sunday, as part of an article about the increasing pressure put on outdoor and natural spaces by non-motorized recreation. The article makes a valid point about the way we tend to point fingers at industrial and corporate environmental malfeasance, without considering that our cumulative impact on the places we celebrate might be just as great simply by walking or skiing through them. Still, some degree of communion with nature is necessary to keep people interested in protecting the environment, and there’s ever-increasing evidence that being outdoors helps mental as well as physical health. So there’s a strong incentive not to place a lot of restrictions on people’s capacity to get outdoors.
The bigger problem is demographic – if you keep making more people, they’ll have an exponentially greater effect on the environment, in all ways, both through industrial destruction of resources, and by loving nature to death. No one will touch this topic in a meaningful way – we live in an absurdly pro-natal society, culturally and to a large extent legally, so I’ll take the opportunity to soap-box a bit: if you’re at all disinclined to have kids, just don’t. I hear a lot of talk in the vein of “I’d better have a baby now because if I don’t I might regret it later,” which seems like crazy reasoning to me. No kid should know that s/he was produced as an insurance against later regret, rather than out of a sincere desire to have a child. Likewise, having kids shouldn’t be a matter of meeting a cultural expectation. Do it if you sincerely want to bring another person into the world and are committed and able to provide the financial, emotional, and intellectual resources to give it a worthwhile life.
Not that I have anything against people who have kids (unless they have excessive numbers….then it starts to get annoying), but in a culture where we’re told that we will inevitably end up with them, I’m reinforcing the fact that you can indeed just opt out and go do something more to your liking, something that might make better use of your talents, if you don’t feel interested in parenthood.
If you do feel like parenthood is for you, however, here’s something that your child must have: a new illustrated children’s book about wolverines, by Suzanne Stutzman. The book is called Send Me a Box of Wolverines, and it’s about the natural history and potential recolonization or reintroduction of the species to Colorado. Although I haven’t seen a copy, the illustrations look fun, and $1 of each sale will be donated to the Wolverine Foundation. You can order it on the author’s website. Who wouldn’t want a box of wolverines? But since that would likely wreak some havoc, this may be the next best thing.
And now Ms. Wolverine has some words about crushes.
Dear Ms. Wolverine,
I have a crush on a guy who doesn’t seem to notice me. I really like him but I’m too shy to talk to him. How do I get his attention? I want him to understand that I am cool like a wolverine.
Crushes are annoying. They consume a lot of time and energy and usually they are based on projections instead of real compatibility or actual connections. Most of the time they don’t work out, and you are better off doing something more useful with your time than moping around about it. I hope that doesn’t seem mean and insensitive, but remember – I’m a wolverine. Kindness and sensitivity are not my strong points.
But if you really want advice on coping with a crush, the first thing you have to do is figure out whether you and this guy are actually the same species.
I bring this up because after I dispersed I found myself a nice territory. It was beautiful. High peaks, lovely meadows, rushing streams, lots of prey. There were no other wolverines around, which was both a good and a bad thing. It was good because it meant I didn’t have to fight anyone for my territory. It was bad because I started developing crushes on guys who were not wolverines.
First there was the mountain goat. He had such big, beautiful eyes, and he had such defined, muscular, juicy legs. His back was also pretty attractive. I followed him around everywhere, just admiring those muscles. But things ended badly. I probably shouldn’t go into details. It turns out that my fascination with him was not terribly healthy. For him.
Never mind. Moving on.
Next there was a bear. He looked a little like a wolverine, but bigger. He was also really mean, all the time. Since wolverines have a reputation for being badass, I thought maybe I could be like him. I followed him around for a while trying to figure out how he’d become so big and impressive, even though he tried to severely injure me every time I attempted to flirt with him over a carcass. Maybe he knew I wasn’t as interested in him as I was in the carcass? Also, abusive guys are just bad news. Don’t ever pursue a crush on a guy who growls or swats at you. After a while, I thought, why bother trying to be big and intimidating when I can just go on being small and intimidating? So I chased him off a carcass one day and discovered he was sort of a wimp. Then he went into hibernation for the winter and I realized that there was no way I’d be willing (or able) to transform myself into a bear. Who wants to sleep through the best season?! Bears are lame.
My biggest crush was the wolf. He hung out with such a cool crowd! I wanted to be like them. They were always hunting together and hanging out in a pack and acting cooperatively to raise their cubs. The wolf was really nice, too. I think he was actually kind of impressed with my attitude, which just made me have an even bigger crush. He didn’t seem to mind when I dragged off a piece of his kill now and then. Eventually we started talking over carcasses, but only when his cool friends weren’t around. Whenever they showed up, he’d tell me it was better to leave because they probably wouldn’t like me. Eventually he dispersed from his pack and while he was on his own, we hung out a lot and had some great conversations. Such a nice guy. But the more we talked and the closer we became as friends, the more I realized that we could never be a couple. He wanted to hang out all the time, like the pack animal he is, and I’m an introvert, so I needed more time to myself. He’s a wolf, and I’m a wolverine. Things don’t work that way. He eventually met a mate and seemed to be pretty happy with her. I think she’s kind of a bitch, but maybe wolves go for that. Anyway, we are still friends and I’m so glad I evolved past the crush stage.
I don’t want it to seem like I spent all my time having hopeless crushes, because most of the time I was just happy to be running around in the mountains and finding food. And also there were some weird cross-species crushes where I was the object – for example, the humans who used to follow me around and leave big wooden boxes of beaver as gifts. They even gave me a necklace, but it was ugly, and they also started putting up cameras to take my picture, which I felt was sort of creepy and stalker-esque. Anyway I knew it would never work out because humans and wolverines are too different, and eventually they lost interest and went away.
But then one day I started coming across intriguing scent markings, and then I ran into this guy and I instantly knew that he was a wolverine just like me. It was love at first sight, and it was totally different from a crush.
So that’s why I say that you have to make sure he’s the same species. In your case, it’s more a metaphorical thing than a real biological thing, but some people are compatible based on genuine similarities in character and interests, while others may seem really fascinating because they have characteristics that are so different and intriguing, and that you yourself may want to possess. In the latter case, however, it frequently turns out that you are just too tough for someone who won’t appreciate that toughness, or you’re trying to be something you don’t actually want to be. Or maybe you’re drawn to something that means that you and the person in question would be great friends, but not necessarily great partners.
And when you meet someone who is ‘your own species,’ in the metaphorical sense, they will also immediately think that you are really awesome too. That’s the great, ego-boosting thing that happens in these situations.
If this guy hasn’t even noticed you yet, there’s no way that you’ve gotten to a point where you can tell whether you’re the same species, so you have two options: 1) Stop worrying about it and do something more constructive with your time, or 2) Talk to him and assess why you have a crush on him, and whether you actually get along. It will do no good to demonstrate to him that you are “cool like a wolverine” if he turns out to be a bear. Or a mountain goat. Anyway, just talk to him and be normal about it, and see what happens.