I opened my mail today -- ok, yesterday's mail, seeing as it is Sunday -- to find a solicitation to join my school's alumni association. Fine, seeing as we are going with accuracy today I will correct that to say my previous school, or my most recent school's alumni association. I'm not joining, regardless. I'm not a joiner by nature, and they already gave me a free window sticker for my car so what other possible reason would entice me to join?
After finding the free window sticker - score! - I opened the letter to look for more cool stuff. (My mama didn't raise no fool.) I found an unusually thick business card which seems to serve no purpose whatsoever, and a questionnaire. As I was about to toss it in the trash, this line caught my eye:
Apparently "Unknown" is my current status, not an option, as there is no box next to it to check. Bummer, because I think "unknown" is a totally awesome answer to the question.
I have always had a problem with single statuses. What does it matter to the alumni association if I am: single (never married), divorced, or widowed? Which is worse? No one has ever found you appealing enough to commit to, you failed at love, or your love died? Don't they all have the same net result? I think it should read - single - none of your freaking business why.
I did love, love, love the "life partner" option. It allows almost us all to answer that question positively. Do I have a life partner? YES! I do! It is my parrot! They live a really long time! I have children, and I will be partnered with them for life, also! Best friends are life partners, too, aren't they? Have I experienced great, soul-changing love? Yes I have!
Do I live with an adult someone? Well, no. But that doesn't mean I don't have a life partner.
Maybe instead of trying to give all the possible permutations, they should just ask, "How would you like your mail addressed?" That would actually solve all their issues in a non-judgemental way.
In spite of my harassing, though, it did warm my soul to see the "Life Partner" option. I think it allows people to feel like the choices of who they love is acceptable to the alumni association, regardless of the legal interpretation of said relationship. Something as simple as an extra box to check can go a long ways in terms of people's perception on whether the organization is welcoming or not. I also think it was printed at a time when the school's state was voting on gay marriage, so they were probably hedging their bets.
It almost made me like them enough to fill out their damn questionnaire and send it back. Not quite, but almost. Besides, I really, really like my status to remain "unknown." You can use it for my sex, race, religion, and income as well. Or perhaps we can change "unknown" to "enigmatic." A university should always strive to use more exact vocabulary.