This year is my husband's 10-year high school reunion, and some schoolmates emailed him about catching up — separately from the reunion. He's grappling with deciding whether:
to go to the reunion
to meet up separately with some of these schoolmates, like at a restaurant.
On one hand, he wants to see them and reconnect. I think he shall — he has no friends except me!
On the other hand, I get why he's grappling. Society, at least in Canada, finds his job very shameful and disrespected — it's listed in this Reddit post and we'd rather not say which.
I came across a The New Yorker article that feels similar. In our case, my husband is like Benatar, and his high school classmates like the reporter.
After finishing “The Human Predicament,” I wrote to Benatar to ask if we could meet. He readily agreed, then, after reading a few of my other pieces, followed up with a note. “I see that you aim to portray the person you interview, in addition to his or her work,” he wrote:
One pertinent fact about me is that I am a very private person who would be mortified to be written about in the kind of detail I’ve seen in the other interviews. I would thus decline to answer questions I would find too personal. (I would be similarly uncomfortable with a photograph of me being used.) I understand entirely if you would rather not proceed with the interview under these circumstances. If, however, you would be happy to conduct an interview that recognized this aspect of me, I would be delighted.
Undoubtedly, Benatar is a private person by nature. But his anonymity also serves a purpose: it prevents readers from psychologizing him and attributing his views to depression, trauma, or some other aspect of his personality. He wants his arguments to be confronted in themselves. “Sometimes people ask, ‘Do you have children?’ ” he told me later. (He speaks calmly and evenly, in a South African accent.) “And I say, ‘I don’t see why that’s relevant. If I do, I’m a hypocrite—but my arguments could still be right.’ ” When he told me that he’s had anti-natalist views since he was “very young,” I asked how young. “A child,” he said, after a pause. He smiled uncomfortably. This was exactly the kind of personal question he preferred not to answer.
Thus I drafted the forewarning beneath that's obviously based on Benatar's, and recommended my husband to use it when he emails his schoolmates back, so that they can change their minds now if they don't want to meet, or be prepared for my husband's secretiveness if they still want to meet.
I'd be happy to meet, but please note that I am a very private person who would be mortified to discuss subjects that ordinary people would discuss, like careers or education or finances. I would thus decline to answer questions I would find too personal. I would be similarly uncomfortable with a photograph of me being used, or being photographed. I understand entirely if you would rather not proceed with meeting under these circumstances. If, however, you would be happy to meet that recognized this aspect of me, I would be delighted.
But my husband finds this forewarning too kooky, unsociable, and unfriendly.
So, how could my husband forewarn a schoolmate that he will refuse to answer personal questions while not seeming like he is unsociable and unfriendly?