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This article is taken from PN Review 95, Volume 20 Number 3, January - February 1994.

The Excluded Middle-of-the-Roader Penny McCarthy

When all my family - sisters, brother and their families - were assembled recently to hold a commemoration for my parents, who died close together a few months ago, my son, oldest of the grandchildren, had a vivid dream, which he related to us. He (old enough, in actual fact, to be a father) was carrying on his shoulders the youngest of his cousins, a four-month-old baby boy, with extreme care. Regent's Park where his - my son's - paternal grandfather once lived, to London Zoo, which is where his maternal grandparents first met. En route, the baby became a bottle of vodka, still needing careful handling, especially because inside the bottle was another baby, waiting.

The relation of this dream struck me forcibly, not just because this was an emotional time in our family history, but also because I compared it with one I had had a while ago, in which I dreamed that I saved my daughter and my mother from an all-engulfing wave, set in motion by a man wielding a whip.

I was disturbed. I didn't think I believed that women's nurturing and pacifism were all that could save the world and future generations. But the dream nearly convinced me that I did, and almost, by a shameful non-sequitur, that this was how things truly are.

How far are we capable of deceiving ourselves about the difference and sameness of women and men? Infinitely, it seems. And this is ...

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