tremble clef

Friday, February 17, 2006

Kiki Kokova, "Love To Love You Baby (Pet Shop Boys Vocal Mix)" (2003)

Last weekend I was woken up by a phone call from Fava Bean, calling to ensure that I was indeed going over to his apartment for brunch. Since I had already said I would, when he asked me a million times at work on Friday, I wasn't sure the call was necessary. Especially not early on a slightly hungover Sunday.

Since I was up, I turned on the TV and tried to drift back to sleep. At some point an episode of Everwood comes on (no, I don't know why they screen it on Sunday mornings; you would think that the wholesome family drama shouldn't conflict with church-going). We're only in the third season here, and the episode that was on was the one where Amy is trying to be friends with Hannah, except going about it in a totally obnoxious way. Hannah is allegedly the social outfit -- "allegedly," because, c'mon, if this was real life, then even self-involved blind high school students can tell that she only needs to get rid of the glasses and let down her hair in order to become Homecoming Queen instantly. So Amy tries to integrate Hannah into Everwood High, steamrolling over all objections and generally treating Hannah less like a friend and more like a social work project, which made me want to punch Amy in the mouth. More than usual.

Fava Bean has been a colleague for just a little over a year; he's perfectly nice, as is his lovely wife Emu. But, frankly, it's one of those situations where they want to be BFF more than I do. For the most part, I've always been cautious about being friends with colleagues. Yes, some of it has to do with not shitting where one eats (especially since, in some circuitous way, I could be considered Fava's boss), but it's more that I quite like keeping my personal and professional lives separate. I spend so much time and psychic energy at work that I just don't really want to be around anyone work-related when I don't have to be. Granted, I don't have much of a personal life nowadays, but that's neither here nor there.

But I guess my reservation goes a little deeper than that. Fava and Emu are in their late 40s and 30s respectively; married about five years, childless and uninterested in being childful. Emu is the woman who once, on holiday, tried to relax at a spa but was so irritated by a boisterous kid being a public nuisance that she turned to him and, in full view and hearing of the kid's parents, screamed, in her slightly wonky Japanese-inflected English, "SHAAADDUP!" Heh. I mean, I love her for that.

Emu is a great cook, and part of our friendship revolves around her intense desire to cook for me. All the time. There was a point when Fava and I had a hectic period at work. Emu called him to see if he was going home for dinner, and, learning that I was also still in the office, then calmly ringed me to badger me to also go over for dinner. I was on the verge of lunacy, desperate to be done with work so that I could go home, so I truly didn't need to be harrassed about how, really, I could drop everything, go eat her delicious dinner, and then return to the office after. As Fava thankfully told her, "Honey, you can pester me to go home for dinner, but [Brittle], on the other hand, isn't actually married to you."

The role I felt like I was being cast in, however, wasn't that of (another) husband, but as child -- though not necessarily their child. I'm not that much younger than Emu, but it does sometimes feel that I'm being treated as some sort of weird baby substitute. It's not straightforward. As I said above, on many levels, Fava and Emu have zero interest in being parents. Further, it's not as if they have no self-awareness. We've certainly joked among ourselves -- even as I tried to make clear that it wasn't entirely a joke to me -- about me being so.

But still. I have often wondered if part of what is happening is that they have a certain view of gay men, per se, as infantile, possibly unable to take care of ourselves. At one point last year, Gibb, a friend of theirs, visited. I ended up being his tour guide to the local gay clubs, where over several drinks we, in not so many words, commiserated with each other. Gibb had a story about how one time Emu flipped when she found out that Gibb went to, gasp, Subway for dinner. Distressed, she made it clear the he should have dropped -- no, was morally obligated to drop in on them for dinner instead, and that in fact he was always welcome to do so, and ohmygawd Subway scream scream scream horror horror. It didn't seem to occur to her that Gibb actually wanted a Subway sandwich. He wasn't eating one because he was incapable of cooking or fixing himself something "better," or unable to invite himself over.

Again, none of this was particularly occluded to everyone concerned. We've even joked about me being the new Gibb. Also, at this moment I really want a tuna sub.

But still. I'm not a child. I don't want to be a child. I'm not a child just by virtue of being a gay man. Gay men are not children.

Well, okay, some are. Some gay men have always seemed a little immature to me. And, yeah, the fact that I actually am hopeless at cooking, and sometimes at taking care of myself, does diminish the force of my assertions a little. But still.


  • Gay people don't have the sames rites of passage, so it makes straight people often view them as less than grown. It's just ignorance, *sometimes* mixed with a bit of jealousy.

    You see this all the time, even in pop press with Madonna saying she had to have a child to grow up. No, Miss Smug, you are still self-absorbed, but now you can also obsess and be controlling about your children.

    It is, as you say, annoying, but ignorable.

    By Blogger xolondon, at 8:03 PM  

  • I think there are a lot of complicated reasons, which I didn't even begin to go into in the blog entry, why gay men get constructed as infantile. Some of this is from the way psychology/psychoanalysis imagines anyone who's not hetero as "arrested" in his or her development. Some of this is from the cultural formation that says that gay men are just "going through a phrase" (and thus childish). Some of it is from the (media) prominence of gay men who are youth-obssessed. Some of it is from the slippery equation of "can't have kid" = "IS a kid." And some of it, as you say, stems from ignorance or possibly even jealousy.

    And you're right that it's mostly ignorable. Although if Emu -- or worse, her husband -- ever starts wanting me to suckle, I'm putting my foot down.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 9:17 PM  

  • Just to clarify, my jealousy comment is about "breeders" (sorry!) who perceive gay life as free and lacking in responsibility, which it sometimes is and often is not. Having a kid is hard and some parents get kind of snooty about those who do not!

    By Blogger xolondon, at 9:30 AM  

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