Paris? Yes, I suppose Paris is a lovely place. I've never been to Paris myself. I never had the time, or the money. (A sad, martyred look crosses her face. The suffering of the world is upon her.) That will be wonderful for you. I wish I could have gone to Paris when I was your age. But I had to bring up all you children, and work a job at the same time. And your father never made much money, and wouldn't take me anywhere. I worked my fingers to the bone, supporting you children and taking care of the house. Then there was the war, and all that. I would have loved to go to Paris.
CHILD: (beginning to feel vaguely guilty about being happy and having a future, although unsure just why) Well, when I'm settled over there, I'll have you come for a visit.
CANCER MOTHER: Visit Paris? Oh no, I couldn't. I have nothing to wear, and I'm so tired these days, keeping the house in order and washing and ironing the clothes. Of course, if you waited another year, Julie would be old enough to get a job. But of course you must go next year. Still, it would have been nice. But I'll stay here and take care of your father. (Long sigh, recognizable as the Cancer Sigh.) It'll be terribly lonely here. But I suppose life is all about sacrifice, isn't it? If you really love, then you have to sacrifice.
CHILD: (feeling even guiltier) Don't you want me to go?
CANCER MOTHER: (in great protest) Of course I do! How can you ask me that? I think it's wonderful that you young people can have that freedom and the money to do what you like. It isn't like when I was young and your parents came first. I suppose people are just more selfish these days. I was just thinking of those lonely evenings at home, you know the phone always rings for you these days, all my friends have moved out of town, and I never have time to see them, being so busy with the cleaning and shopping….
Needless to say, the end of this scenario is not a trip to Paris. Not next year, or even the year after that. If foiled yet again, this kind of Cancer will not hesitate to develop a bad heart, migraine headaches, or the old-time-honoured phrase, 'Do you want to kill me?' Once upon a time this was also known as the Jewish Mother Syndrome. Now perceptive people will have noticed that you don't have to be either Jewish or a mother to play this game. Husbands play it, children play it, wives play it, boyfriends and girlfriends play it, even employers play it. When Cancers are threatened with isolation of the loss of loved ones - through independence, distance, or any other means - they will often resort to the martyr. Not a pretty device.
The thing is, Cancer does not need to be needed. And to love and nurture and cherish. And to apply the role of Mother, in some shape or form. (This means Cancer men as well.) The important thing is to find the Child on levels other than the purely biological one. Once the children have grown, Cancer needs other outlets, preferably creative ones. The sensitivity, the gentleness, the delicate touch of this deep and subtle sign can be as usefully and productively placed on a project, a business, a home, a work of art, a piece of poetry, an animal, a garden. If it is all poured wholly into the beloved person, it is pretty natural for that person to either rebel or to turn inward in seething resentment, without fully understanding why. Cancer pays a tragic price for his emotional blackmail: the enmity of a loved one, in the end.
We should observe two more things about the crab, to complete our initial portrait of Cancer. The crab develops in a cyclical way. This is true too of Cancer people. I once had a pair of hermit crabs as pets. These creatures are practically fascinating because, rather than having hard shells of their own, they wear the shells of dead mollusks, and camouflage them. There is a kind of Cancer whose shell is culled from others, as well as a kind who grows his own. Now when a hermit crab outgrows his shell - which he inevitably does - he must find a bigger one, and make the move in total safety. Underneath the shell, the crab is a defenceless, completely vulnerable creature. There