Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On Rob Lowe on Sending his Son to College

It happens this way:  A friend links to something on the web.  Then another friend and another.  Depending on how busy I am, by the third or fifth friend, I'll often click on the link.  After all, my friends are using their social media capital to tell me about this item, I might as well read it.

Last week, the item was Rob Lowe's essay about sending his son off to college.  Timed with the release of his book Love Life, the essay has been published by Slate.  It's not a super-long read, and I invite you to go read it before I share my take on it.

This is not a book review of Love Life, even though I used that label on this post.  I've only read the college essay they're pushing out in the publicity for the book.
  •  Facts highlighted by the essay or surfaced in subsequent Rob Lowe research - some striking, some not
    • Rob Lowe is ridiculously attractive and shared his genes with his son
    • Rob Lowe is still married to the mother of his two children as the older one goes off to college.  Impressive for a celebrity, especially given the above fact.
    • Love Life is Rob Lowe's third book! Look out, JK Rowling.
  • Gut reactions to the essay
    •  After being winningly honest about growing up as a child of divorce, Lowe demonstrates a need to be friends with his sons that feels not quite appropriate to the father-son relationship.  It feels a little dependent and clingy.  Maybe we all work to make up for what we saw as most glaringly missing or painful in our childhoods.  Having shuttled between his parents as a kid, it's apparently really important to Rob Lowe the Father to be very close and just one of the gang with his kids.  This is apparently backed up by an interview with Jimmy Kimmel in which he confesses to being an "inappropriate frat dad".
    • A fact relevant to the above: Lowe didn't go to college.  At the age at which he would have, he left home not for a campus full of his peers but for a 3-month movie shoot with grown-up actors and crew in Tulsa.  This does put an interesting spin on his life event of sending his own son off to college.
    • Being a celebrity does not inure one from being a proud papa.  He gushes so much about the incredibly competitive school his son went off to that I finally had to google what amazing institution this is.  Turns out it's Duke.  That means the president he quotes is my own beloved former professor Richard Brodhead; that was a cool upshot of my web stalking of Matthew Lowe.
  • It's a touching essay and definitely better than if he were unmoved by his beloved eldest's departure for college. 
Watch this space for my own version of this essay in six years, three months and six days.

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