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"Oh, they have so much fun! If only we had fun like that."

Margaret's Psychology Corner,
Aug. 1995

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You know those people who read books like Year in Provence? Well, if you don't it won't take long to explain. As I understand it, it's some book about laying around in the south of France for a year, being or perhaps becoming cultured. Yippeee!

I guess my basic gripe is that I just can't stand people who read books and think Ah, . . . if only my life were like that . . . as if being able to lay around in France, learning to understand the culture of the frogs would bring them inner harmony. And if you don't get to do that, why would you want to read about someone else getting to?

And what makes these people any better than those who read romance novels? Or watch soap operas? In my pre-teen years my best friend and I used to watch "Days of Our Lives" and every time some feathered-haired hunk and his poof-headed gal would have such a great time spending the weekend at a cabin in the woods or feeding each other wedding cake or just going out for dinner-'n'-dancin' , we would use our best pathetic housewife voices and sigh, "Oh, they have so much fun. . . If only we had fun like that . . ." How perceptive we were even then.

The only difference between Year in Provence - readers and those romance novel/soap opera conossieurs is that the former enjoy some sort of intellectual veneer brought on by living in Ann Arbor or Berkeley or fill in the blank. Really it's the same feeling underneath.

I am not devoid of sympathy - so, maybe you can't afford to go on a big European vacation. That's common enough. But if that's true, don't decide that that's the only way you'll ever be happy. Trust me, missing out on the frogs isn't worth crying over - and you'd probably be a lot happier if you figured out what is.

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