Some days I deign to sit next to the prison guard and make another attempt to understand her. I peer into her eyes and search for something other than selfishness. Egotism. Laziness.
And what do I find in my search? That I have once again missed a connection with her. That it seems we can never quite understand each other. I was just reading Hamlet because she is teaching it next week. I thought to remind myself of the story, the characters, the tragedy, and in so doing perhaps come up with some useful ideas for her to employ in class discussion.
I was struck by the line "frailty, thy name is woman;" a line so famous I do not even have to consult the text. To my mind, it is as famous as "to be or not to be" or "neither a borrower nor a lender be," but I digress.
I have never considered that my prison guard's deficiencies were due in part (whether large or small) to her sex. And I cannot help but wonder at people who believe this.
What role do they believe sexual characteristics play in a creature's life? Does this mean I am valued less because I have been "fixed" (a horrible euphemism - if I had been consulted, I might have called it "broken")? And are the sexes of animals taken into consideration? Would Hamlet believe a female cat frailer than a male? Why?
I do not know why this question bothers me today. Perhaps it is because it is raining and all the lizards are hiding, so when I look Outside I stare only into the desolate blankness of the backyard.
Or perhaps it is because I for some reason care that the prison guard will be teaching this play to college students, many of whom will be female, and who have probably already, without realizing, internalized this idea: frailty, thy name is woman!
What might it mean for those young female students to have this as a noose around their necks? Do they feel its heft? Do they see trepidation shining back at them in the mirror? Or does the perfume, makeup, and chivalry blind them?
And why do I care? I will never meet these students. I could never attend the prison guard's class. Here I sit, a simple, broken cat, bored and melancholy, watching the rain fall and fall - and yet knowing this rain won't be enough to quench the drought. Why do I fret? Why do I sigh?
Frailty, thy name is Luco.