by Kleitia Vaso

I remember once, in a mutual exchange of compliments, the chef of a restaurant, who was an acquaintance of my mother, complimented her on her appearance and ours, her daughters, of whom he said “my mother must have really enjoyed making.” At the time, I remember I was both flattered as compliments are always nice when unexpected and original, and a little taken aback by the directness and implications of the compliment. But, I suppose it is true, in a way; despite not being perfect in any aspect specifically, we have both inherited, each in her way, a good mix of our parents’ attributes who are exceptional in their own right, perhaps much more so than us. Also, my mom has repeatedly said that at that time, they were very much in love, perhaps in a naïvely exaggerated way as they were both relatively young. I guess we are the living mementoes of that love.

I thought of this recurring piece of conversation as I witnessed the presence of two different types of families at the beach, both emblematic to some extent. One was a family from another city, not the capital, and as such immediately regarded, even by me (and I try to avoid this), as “less sophisticated” in some way. This perception was not helped by their shady, mysterious wealth and the apparently brute way in which they spoke. But, after a very gradual mutual warming-to, the parents were polite and nice and they had two very beautiful children who surpassed each of them, both in appearance and liveliness. From this starting point of “inferiority,” I (and others) started to look at the family in awe. Despite small quarrels which are part of any family, it was obvious all four of them were satisfied with each other, and that those children, the most beautiful and charming children there undoubtedly, full of colors, sweetness, but also a good amount of mischievousness, had been conceived in a period of pleasure and love. Perhaps, this family represents a mix of the old traditions and beliefs mixed with new, flashy money; the family in question, though, was the best example I’ve seen of this phenomenon. The only disturbing aspect was the feeling, lurking underneath the visible surface, that a thinner and more casually dismissible line than usual divided good and evil, beauty and ugliness.

Another family was represented by several families vacationing there but I will mix them into one. Let’s call them the elite family of our context and time. The parents come from the capital and are usually educated intellectuals, modestly comfortable businessman, or artists, well-matched at a reasonable age (not young at all, but not too old), who create a family, usually of three members (one child). I suppose the one child is the consequence of a combination of practical factors combined with a dose of fear and an overdose of thought: money, age, and new-age parenting ideas. The child is tolerated and spoiled but also addressed as a free-willed adult; physical violence and screaming are absolutely forbidden and the isolated republic of three always speaks in hushed tones. The result of this promising and practical mix should be a pretty good child but usually (and keep in mind that the sample for this subjective study was limited) the child looks half-made and is pretty awkward, especially in relation to others. The products of this type of well-planned family show all the hesitation of their interesting or usually pseudo-interesting parents; not pleasure but obligation, dressed as the right moment and feeling, has created them.

by Kleitia Vaso