by Duncan “El Guero Mero” Scrymgeour
So today is the day that thousands of amateur alcoholics and Tex-Mex cuisine aficionados will make their way to whatever Mexican restaurant chain is closest to their home and eat completely unauthentic Mexican fair like “nachos” and “gorditas” and tacos with a hard shell filled with ground beef and shredded lettuce. Most of these folks will be Anglos, although a fair portion will be Chicanos celebrating their heritage. The Chicanos will eat at smaller, better restaurants or host “comedors” at their homes for their friends. The Anglos will listen to Latinos in “Three Amigos” costumes sing Mariachi to them while they scarf down their jack cheese burritos and the Chicanos will listen to Banda or, just as likely, Hip-Hop. My days spent with Chicanos who spoke little Spanish, but listen to Tavares and drove Impalas with hair-nets and bottles of “Trés Flores” in their medicine cabinets are over. Whatever the place, everyone will drink Corona, or Pacifica, or Negro Modelo (if they’re stuck-up) or Dos Eqiues.
Now do I need to mention that “Cinco de Mayo” is not an authentic Mexican holiday. Well, it is, it aspires to be one, even if celebrated almost entirely outside of Mexico. Humorless activists and curmudgeonly historians will shake fingers, but what does it mean to be truly “authentic.” Does it mean being who you are? Does it mean becoming who you were meant to be? These are Platonic and Aristotelian questions outside the scope of this blog, but they do bear considering.
To honor the holiday, I’ve shared this, one of my favorite Almodovar monlogues from “La Agrado.” Cinco de Mayo has nothing to do with being Spanish, and the battles of La Agrado may have nothing to do with the Battle against the French for Puebla, the historical origin of the holiday, but struggles are struggles and we all take a beating in our search to find some authenticity with grace and humor so here you go. Viva Zapata, or L’Agrado, or whatever or whomever you authentically aspire to be.
by Duncan Scrymgeour
My mother-in-law came home and told me that she was scoring a film starring Charlie Hunnam. She told me this with a raised eyebrow. She told me this while I was watching Travis Fimmel run shirtless across my television screen in a scene from “The Vikings.” Something within me, from the Elizabeth Taylor part of me stirred and I was suddenly sitting in a lawn chair across from Montgomery Clift in “Suddenly Last Summer,” ignoring the humid heat and Kathrine Hepburn’s cold stares.
All last summer,
Sebastian was famished for blonds.
Fed up with the dark ones.
Famished for blonds.
Fed up with the dark ones,
famished for the light ones.
“Cathy knew she was being used for something evil!,” screams a banner across the trailer. Evil indeed. Evil.
by Duncan Scrymgeour (with apologies for the Koine, but my Greek is not what it could be).
And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. [John 20:14-16]
All that turning…
I’m about to turn in. I have always disliked Easter Sunday, even when I was a Christian soul. (All that brass and silly lilies at an ungodly hour in the morning.)
I realize he’s there When I turn the light off And turn over.
I loved Easter Vigil though: the god that waits in the darkness.
I know, I know, that sound’s eye-rollingly Goth, no?
I just mean that it’s the tension of waiting that’s powerful for me, not, typically, the glory of witnessing. Revelation always drives me to skepticism. Seeing is almost followed by squinting. (I guess I’m suspicious when someone tries to shine light in my eyes.)
The dark is where we are all at before we know the answer to things. It’s in the absence of the truth that we all find each other, when we need each other most.
Now having said all that, if I die tonight before everyone in my family is jumping up and down about the Resurrection?
…I’m going to be seriously turned off.
by Duncan Scrymgeour
Last night, after a medicinal glass of red wine and half a Vicodin, I fell into a deep sleep and dreamt that I was Louise Fletcher from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” except that I was dressed in a blue uniform and had grey hair in a chignon under a black hat.
I ran a very wet and oppressive British Reform School for Girls where I was particularly mean to Claire Danes and particularly nice to Toni Colette. I think Claire was there because she’d been framed. Toni was definitely there because she deserved it.
Toni beat up girls in the bathroom and had matching red hair and lipstick. She was screwing a townie played by Tom Hardy.
The soundtrack was a combination of Lulu, Dusty Springfield, and Massive Attack.
There was a lot of gum-chewing and cigarettes and cider going on.
I remember a long shot of a vinyl handbag in the shape of the Union Jack.
I’m pretty sure Tom Hardy had a nude scene.
Christ, I’ve really got to get out of Hollywood
by Duncan Scrymgeour
So I failed Hebrew.
It happened on the last day of Hanukkah, no less.
Some Maccabee, huh?
Thank God that of the Big Three monotheisms, Judaism is the one that’s less interested in sin than miztvahs.
When I imagine the Deity in my typical Warner Bros. fashion, I like to think that the Jewish God would shrug Talmudically and say, “so you bit off more than you could chew, it’s not the end of the world, relax, eat a little something, you’ll feel better.”
The Christian God would glare at me silently surrounded by weeping angels. There’d be thunder off in the distance.
I just became overwhelmed. I’d taken Latin and Greek as an undergrad, so I should have been wary of ancient languages.
Of course, when I was an undergrad those languages hadn’t been dead for quite so long.
I’ve only ever failed one class before. Had I not learned my lesson then?
But what is that lesson?
An ordinary person might say, “why not try and be a better student?”
Not me though. I always go for the cosmic solution.
“Maybe I can better empathize with my own students!” “Maybe now I know what they’ll feel when I throw their To Kill A Mockingbird essay back in their face?”
I ask this to a silent universe.
See, I always become this Hippie Buddhist manqué whenever things go wrong. I launch this search for big answers in some like, wow kind of way instead of just realizing how truly not wow failure is.
(In point of fact, “wow” is exactly what my Hebrew teacher said to me when I turned in my final early and only half-finished.)
“You fail every day,” my partner says to me when I break the news in a broken voice. “You failed to find your keys this morning.”
“Thanks,” I replied sullenly. “So what do you fail at? He paused. “Well, I fail to remember half the things you say to me.”
My partner deals out industrial-strength truths, the kind that burn as much as clean. The kind that should come with warning labels attached to them.
Some people in my life are more direct in their support.
My friend Smith said to me in consolation, “Well Hebrew does seem like it’s the Calculus of languages,” which freaked me out because the only other class I ever failed was Calculus and now I don’t know whether Smith is my friend or a prophet or practices witchcraft.
The thought that he might just know me a little doesn’t cross my mind until the other options have been exhausted…
So what is the take-away in this teachable moment?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s simply to say Kaddish over a life without failure.
Which I could do…If only I hadn’t failed Hebrew.
by Smith Galtney
The Son Also Rises
Wide and Pudgy Ass (for chubby chasin’ Jane Austen enthusiasts)
The Round and the Furry
The Brothers Tear Her Mats Off
The Executioner’s Dong
Anna Kuh-Rammin’ It, Anna Kuh-Rammin’ It
by Duncan Scrymgeour
So Lindsay Lohan is in the news again. First she tries to drag Elizabeth Taylor’s memory through the dirt and then she punches a psychic in the face.
(You’d think the psychic would have seen it coming.)
It’s hard to imagine where Lindsay Lohan has to go after this. After you’ve smacked a “gypsy,” what’s left?
I wonder if she could have pulled that punch and let the psychic do her job, would anything have changed? If you can see your future, do you try to change it if it’s scary? Do you try to back out? Maybe Churchill was right when he claimed that the best thing you could do when you’re going through hell is…
…to keep on going.
I’ve never been able to back out of anything, although I did back into Lindsay once.
It was in October of 2010 on the courthouse steps in Beverly Hills. There was an immense crowd of people: generic law suits, pencil skirts with microphones in front of news vans. The parkway was filled with fans. Fans always seem to have only two faces: one that’s adoring and…
…one that’s hungry.
I have never liked crowds and I didn’t want to be late to court so I tried to side step it all, dodging right, feinting left. As I stepped backwards away from a man with a camera, I ran into the person in back of me. I turned to apologize and she turned too, in slow motion like something out of a fragrance commercial. Her face had yet to be restructured into something more vintage. It was still organic and youthful, if swollen. The eyes welled with tears. There was a hurricane of blonde hair that I gazed up at momentarily before following the traces of the mascara running down her eyes to her lips, which were parted slightly. I leaned in instinctively just as she sniffed and her face moved into something like a pout. Then the head snapped around and Lindsay Lohan disappeared with her lawyer into the crowds that had gathered to see her beheaded.
Three hours later, I was before the Hon. Marsha Revelle, the same judge who had sentenced Lindsay and made her cry. My own offences were not drug-related, but had to do with unregistered vehicles, a lack of licenses, my own laziness. When it came time to approach the bench, the judge, a pleasant looking woman with a round owlish face and a red bob stared down her rimless glasses at me. She looked like a character from a Disney movie.
“I recognize your name from Harry Potter,” she said.
This observation startled me. “Yes, Your Honor, ‘Scrymgeour,’ only in the book it’s spelled with an ‘i.’ Rufus Scrimgeour appears in last book as well as the final movies, both of them.” I said this as if I were really related to Rufus Scrimgeour and that this celebrity connection might help me in a way that it hadn’t helped Lindsay.
The judge studied me patiently. “My children want to see the new movie,” she said, leaning toward me on a robed elbow, “but they’re young and I’ve heard it’s scary.” ”
I didn’t know what to say, so I chuckled awkwardly and added, “Well, Your Honor, Halloween is only a few days away.”
She regarded me for a moment and smiled very slightly. ”We had Halloween early this year and it was very scary. Actually, I’m surprised you didn’t run into it in the hall on your way in.”
Well, I had run into it, but on the steps. But the Hon. Marsha Revelle couldn’t have known that.
After all, she’s a judge, not a psychic.
Which, in retrospect, is probably all for the best.
by Smith Galtney
Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (MCA, 1973)
Why’s he wearing high heels bigger than Mommy’s? If that’s the yellow-brick road, then where’s Dorothy? Who’s Norma Jean, and why do all the young girls love Alice? Whoa, did he just call the Dirty Little Girl a “bitch”? I know what a bitch is – my brother says my sister’s one – but what’s a “jerk-off”? So much for little me to ponder whilst being hypnotized by that spinning, rainbow-splashed record label…
Various Artists, Saturday Night Fever (RSO, 1977)
I don’t remember exactly when this album entered my life. Just that it proved I was a good dancer. Better than all the other kids. And suddenly, somehow, I was in front of the entire neighborhood, dressed in an olive-green leisure suit and performing a solo routine to “You Should Be Dancing,” the star of a variety show directed by my sister.
Grace Jones, Slave to the Rhythm (Island, 1985)
I loved the cover art. I was mesmerized by the video. So my best friend gave me the album as a present. But I wasn’t comfortable being the lone boy in school with a Grace Jones cassette in his backpack. I promptly returned it.
Vanity, Wild Animal (Motown, 1984)
Handed to me by a male clerk with teased-out, lemon-juice highlights, who cocked a half-grin as if to say, “Not everybody buys this one, you know.” From the moment I got home and pressed “play,” it was clear I’d blown my allowance on a truly awful album. I didn’t return it, though, since something about its awfulness seemed kind of special. My first camp classic!
Laurie Anderson, Mister Heartbreak (Warner Bros., 1983)
Speaking of camp, there I was, 15 years old, summering at Camp Country Lad in Monterey, Tennessee, a Walkman on my head as the whole world broke wide open: If she’s just talking over noise, then why does it all sound like music? And if this is music, then maybe everything else they say is bullshit? And if everything is bullshit, then maybe I don’t have to go to Ole Miss or Tulane or LSU, or join a fraternity and be a Republican?
Book of Love, Book of Love (Sire, 1986)
Not everyone who liked this synth-pop cult favorite turned gay. Just those who really liked it.
Madonna, The Immaculate Collection (Sire, 1990)
Not to sound too dramatic or get all carried away in metaphor, but hearing all of her hits together in one place for the first time was like looking at a jigsaw puzzle that formed a mirror reflecting everything I ever was and all that I hoped to be.
Nanci Griffith, One Fair Summer Evening (MCA, 1988)
Sophomore year, NYU, and I’m striking up what feels like a very special, more-than-just friendship with a boy who lives down the hall. I need to be absolutely certain about him, about us, before taking things to the next level. But how? I got it! I will lend him this CD, and if he likes it, I will have my answer. After a long wait, I bump into him in between classes. He says he likes it (!!) and soon we’re holding hands while watching The Sheltering Sky.
Sylvester, Living Proof (Fantasy, 1979)
Talk about your gay moments: I discovered this live album while nursing a drug hangover in London Terrace – the gayest apartment complex in all of Manhattan – while the middle-aged man I was (not really) dating and his best friend laughed and reminisced and sang along with Sylvester, as he himself laughed and reminisced while performing “You Are My Friend” for an adoring audience o’ gays at the San Francisco Opera House in 1979. Kind of like watching your aunt and uncle sing side-by-side at the piano, telling that ol’ tale of how they first met. Only cooler…
Rufus Wainwright, Poses (DreamWorks, 2001)
Too many drug hangovers, too many brilliant mistakes, and before you can say “jaded Jane,” old clichés like “careful what you wish you for” and “no matter where you go, there you are” make too much sense and you’re listening to the inevitable therapist prattle on about “arrested adolescence.” Like Janis Joplin asked, “Now that I’m here, where am I?” Like Chris Rock said, “You don’t wanna be the old guy in the club.” Like Rufus sang, “Baby, you said watch my head about it… Oh, no kidding.”
by Duncan Scrymgeour
CLICK HERE and listen to “Space Princess” by Celestial Navigations. This post has a soundtrack.
If you love it–and you will–you can listen to more of Celestial Navigations and download the stories and music by visiting The Celestial Navigations website.
People can grouse all they want about Facebook. People have even written obnoxious articles wagging fingers at Facebook for all the mental harm its supposedly causing us. The University of Wisconsin, the state that gave us cheese and Paul Ryan actually got a study funded. Big Science. It’s since been refuted. (Your tax dollars at work.) Articles like these seem cliché even before they are written.
For me, Facebook has put me back in touch with friends I thought I would never see again. I’m attending a memorial for one tonight. I’d have never known about it before social media. I’ve also made some new friends, friends I have never met face-to-face.
Okay, now I’m the one sounding cliché…
One, a friend of a friend, used to make music with a good beat that you could dance to and we did during 1980s back when dancing was something you did more than something you watched. That friend is now connected to me and my family not only through “the cloud” in digital terms, but a more spiritual kind of cloud, and more Jungian synchronicity type of cloud, something more analog, something more Divine.
There’s going to be a documentary about Divine, who is a actress that needs no introduction for a certain subculture from my generation. My friend from Facebook has a song on the soundtrack that will be released and this reminded me of conversations of coffee, with Geoff Lewis, who worked alongside of her in a movie filmed right around the time, a time when most of us were dancing to bands like “Modern Romance.”
Geoff hung out with Divine a lot during the filming of “Lust in the Dust”, camped it up. At the time, Mr. Lewis was also busy presaging much of the “spoken word” and “slam story-telling” that people enjoy today. This is one from the mid-1980s that he told me Divine had directly inspired. It’s also a bit of a metaphor about how I’m feeling today: frustrated, hungry, and waiting for others to finish what they’re doing so they can rescue me.
(I even sound like this. No, I don’t. Okay maybe a little….)
by Duncan Scrymgeour
How many degrees of separation did there used to be? Six? They made a movie about it, yeah?
by Duncan Scrymgeour
Hello. My name is Duncan and I’m here today to talk to you about a very serious problem: aquaphobia pre caffinata.
Although it strikes each person differently, aquaphobia pre caffinata is the terrifying inability to step into a cold shower immediately upon rising without enjoying that first cup of coffee. It can strike at any age, but usually affects individuals who are post-pubescent, post-coital, or pre-commute.
No matter when it strikes, it must no longer be just somebody else’s problem; it must become all of our problem. I suffer from this gripping condition myself, one that garners little sympathy from friends and partners alike. It’s time for me to come out of the closet with this condition, even if it’s not yet time for me to go into the shower.
So I’m asking any of you, my fellow aquaphobics pre caffinata (or aquaphobia pre caffinatics, we’re still working that piece out with the Marketing Department) to help me generate some support and awareness by submitting your choices for a color, or a ribbon or an NFL sport team willing to stand up and say, “Yes! I’m filthy! Yes, my dear, we may have just had it off, but no! I’m not getting in that freezing, cold, morgue of a shower until I’ve had some coffee!”
Thank you all for your support and remember, when someone you love says, “Honey, I swear I’ll be there in just a minute,” that may be the fear of seeing you naked under the harsh glare of a mourning florescent but it might just as easily be a cry for help.
For someone you love, all that stands between a morning of fear and trembling and the joy of a Calgon commercial is a properly preset Mr. Coffee or a family member that can work a French press.
by Duncan Scrymgeour
There’s something about a cold medication with Hip-Hop branding…
And talk about profiteering! Relief comes at the cost of two weeks of lattes. Since my head is filled with mucus and in honor of the premier of the Walking Dead, which may be just a metaphor for the cold season, I offer this re-run entry from my last cold. More to come when my head is less full, my mind more free.
by Duncan Scrymgeour
Thank you so much for the gift this morning of fog and chilly, “can’t get out of bed” weather. It’s now warming up here in Los Angeles, but I see that it’s not expected to get much higher than 85 today, so I’m guessing someone was pretty happy with the sacrifice last night on the tennis court, huh? It was the best I could do after our talk so I’m glad that Suzy and her friend Josh were acceptable. They were failing English so they weren’t perfect, but you work with what you can get and finding virgins at my university these days is next to impossible.
So, listen. I’m assuming that we’re good for the next week, right? I mean you’ve outdone yourself…sorry, Yourself today. Warm sun…the sea breezes? You’re awesome. If there’s anything else I need to do to keep this weather stable, please let me know. I was going to offer up a bunch of Republicans in Tampa, but it seems like you’re already considering that. (Speaking of sacrifice, calling the hurricane Issac? Nice touch.) I do have some friends at the convention, so go easy, okay? The whole thing is a bit crazy, true, I mean a Mormon President, get real, right? The Evangelicals like him though, but then they thought that snake in the garden/magic trick thing you did at that children’s party was the real deal. What are you gonna do?
Listen, if I promise to give you the Democrats during their convention, can you keep the temperature in the high seventies until Fall? I know Democrats don’t look appetizing, but far fewer of them believe in you, so it might be just the surprise ending they need. (I now how much you like the ole bait n’ switch). Anyway, I’m going to go out and enjoy the day, Your day that is. And whoever is in charge of the birds and their singing up there? Give him a raise!
So listen G, ping me about the weather/Democrat thing and let Suzy and Josh know it was nothing personal, it’s just that someone has to take global warming seriously. You can hit me up like you did before in the car radio. (Disguising your voice like Mick Jagger was hilarious by the way. I was like, “WTF!”)
Thanks big guy,
by Duncan Scrymgeour
Bette Midler “Marijuana” – Live from the Continental Baths, September 6, 1971
When Truman Capote died, Gore Vidal is reported to have said, “wise career move.” Gore Vidal had a lot of sparring partners, Capote being only the most famous. Over his long life he argued snidely with Norman Mailer, traded insults with William F. Buckley, Jr. To hear Gore tell it, even Bobby Kennedy and he were enemies.
Outliving your rival is always an opportunity for victory in so many ways. Of course, there’s a saying about never speaking ill of the dead, which is simply ridiculous. What group is better suited for insult than the dead? Either they’re “in a better place” and so they won’t care, or they’re in no place and so will never know, or they’re in a worse place and so will probably deserve the reputation.
Either way, you can be pretty sure that you’ll have the last word.
Last week, Gore Vidal lost his final fight with the corpulent, self-satisfied Edmund White. I’m not mourning. I doubt Gore would have wanted that and even if he did, he wasn’t a very sympathetic person. He was a wit and a genius to be sure, but a few years ago he said something awful about one of my oldest and closest friends in an New York Times interview. Sometimes old cats run out of adversaries before they run out of fight. My friend didn’t deserve it. Gore didn’t even know her. After I read about it, I saw him at the Los Angeles Festival of Books signing books. He looked up briefly at me. I narrowed my eyes and whispered, “time for you to go.” He didn’t deserve it. I didn’t even know Gore. But I guess that’s the horrible thing about curses, once they’re done, they can’t be undone.
Note to self…
Still, I’d like to honor Gore with a story, one that was related to me by a late friend about his late friend, whom I met briefly. I know the “friend of a friend” lead might cast a shadow on the story’s authenticity, but that’s how these things go sometimes.
Our story is set somewhere in Italy…in a bathhouse.
This friend was a recent graduate of English Literature from a small regional college in the American Midwest. Like many WASPs of his generation, he toured Europe in his twenties and like a smaller number of WASPs of his generation he found himself in a gay bathhouse in Rome. Sitting among the steaming Romans in their towels, an older man slid along the bench toward him. There was some sort of exchange that eventually involved talking to one another and both were surprised to find that not only did they both speak English, but that they were also American.
Banter ensued. The older American asked my friend, “so you’re going to become an English teacher? What do you think of the writer Gore Vidal. I hear he’s something of a literary phenomenon in the States.” My friend Steven replied, “Gore Vidal! Everything that man has written is little more than trash.”
The older man smiled knowingly and introduced himself as Gore Vidal.
Nonplussed, my friend said with a smile. “Oh Mr. Vidal. I’m so ashamed. You see I was just showing off. The truth is I’ve never read a single thing you’ve written.”
I love your work Gore. Hell, I’m reading “Creation” now. But stay dead. It was your time.
Now if you could only have found a way to take Edmund White with you…
by Duncan Scrymgeour
As I drove my father to lunch the other day, I saw an astounding line wrapped around the only Chick-fil-A in the San Fernando Valley. I had no idea what was going on. No truly. Sure, I knew that the fast food chain was pissing people off and that it had something to do with gay marriage, but beyond that? I was totally in the dark. So many people on the march in support of waffle fries.
Bette Midler used to say, “I don’t know much, cause I don’t get out much” and that used to be true for me.
Nowadays I don’t have to get out. What’s out there comes to me. I don’t need to know about chicken wars or VP picks or how the Second Amendment is doing because I have friends who tell me what to think. That is, they tell me what they think. They post it and tweet it. Anyone with a computer now is a telepath.
I know what you’re thinking…
There are problems with this as everyone has figured out by now. Telepathy is always depicted as a super-power in the comic books. I don’t know why. Knowing what people think about you, about everything, all the time? It sounds like a prelude to war.
Although with all the analogies to Hitler and communism being flung out there, apparently it’s a war that’s already happened…
Now this is not going to be a rant against social media. If I didn’t value social networking and the voice it gives us, I wouldn’t be writing this, and the fact that there is a this in the first place demonstrates that I like to hear myself think and want you to hear me too.
There’s an undeniable power in being able to claim a virtual soap box, raise up followers, be liked for what you believe (or say you believe) and threaten to block those who disagree with you.
I hereby block you from…?
I suppose further disagreement.
But don’t you think there’s something unsettling about that fact that what you think, that notion, that opinion, that commentary, that ill-conceived photo, all of it now frozen forever in time?
The internet never forgets.
My hope is that having so much of yourself out in the ether, every petty hate, every deeply held momentary political opinion, will force us to cough up something more powerful into the atmosphere and that’s regret, apology, and forgiveness. You see much less of that these days.
For most of us, flip-flopping really is a virtue…
Now although I feign outrage and demand explanation with the rest of them, at the end of the day I’m not really interested in disabusing people of their opinions. It seems like the power of pluralism lies in the insistence that everyone has the right to believe stupid things. We just need to act like we’re all at our nephew’s bris.
If you have to be mean, don’t don’t it with words, do it with your eyes. Even when you shoot someone a look they’ll never forget…
…deniability is always plausible.
by Duncan Scrymgeour
So people have been trying to figure out what makes guys gay for some time now and they haven’t come up with many convincing answers. (Reportedly, what makes women gay is going to college.)
The newest theory claims the gene that makes us gay makes our mothers and aunts fecund, which sounds as filthy as it does scientific. The theory goes something like this: sexy moms have lots of sex. Procreation is the point of life. The gene that creates sexy moms also results in gay sons. So basically, if moms that multiply are the main dish? Gay sons are the garnish. We make the whole thing look nice, we add texture and color, but from a genetic standpoint, we get thrown out when it’s time to wash the dishes.
Now, although this idea sounds like a sciencey justification dreamed up by horny women in lab coats, it might also make for some fun “coming out” conversations. When Mom says tearfully, “I feel like I’m to blame,” you can take her hand and add, “well you are to blame Mom, and frankly if you and your sisters weren’t such sluts, you could have grandchildren by now.” She’ll love that. It will certainly make brunch more interesting.
Now origin myths are great, but I’ve never been a big believer. (If there’s a big bang in gay life, it’s not the cause, it’s the effect.) Also finding out what causes things is often the first step toward eliminating them. (Medicine and psychiatry have really bad track records when dealing with “the gays.”) No, I choose to believe that we do have a role in life that is family-oriented and doesn’t rely on either our talent at decoration or being decorative.
It’s being uncles.
Most of us don’t have our own kids. So naturally, we want yours. (Don’t worry, we just want to borrow them, spoil them, help protect them, not keep them.) For gay men who who feel differently, let me lay out some of the advantages:
First, being an uncle is simply a win-win. Nieces and nephews are extremely useful as cover when you’re running around Disneyland because you can roll your eyes with the rest of the adults and pretend you’re there merely for the kids. (This also works just as well when you’re taking in a matinee of Madagascar 3.)
Second, the young are remarkably honest. I know that many of us have run into honest before and come out the worse for wear. With children, though, the whole thing is pervaded by innocence and a lack of guile. When they tell you your teeth are yellow, they are simply declaring a fact, not a war. Sometimes this innocence actually contains the vision of a better world. My nephew Harry asked me how long I had been dating his uncle “before we realized we were of the same gender.”
Third, so many gay men suffer from the fear that they will live alone and without love. Nieces and nephews are courageous about not letting this happen. If you have none of your own, find them. Someone, usually a single parent, would love to give you the chance.
Fourth, being an uncle is like renting an expensive sports car. You get to have an amazing day running around showing off but the cost of daily maintenance? That’s born by the tired people you return your nieces and nephews to at the end of the day when the sugar high is wearing off and bath and bedtime approach.
Fifth, you will be knighted with nicknames that would make anyone in punk or Hip-Hop seethe with envy. (I’m already working “Uncle Duncle” and “Skunk” and there are more on the way…)
Sixth, and finally, as your nieces and nephews age, they will rely on you increasingly in roles that are more seriously parental. Although your basic job as uncle is to support (within reason) your sister and brother’s decisions for their children, you provide an important set of ears, and arms at times when relations between the generations can otherwise be strained. Traditionally, this part is assigned to grandparents, but let’s face it, we can run as fast as kids can, we dress them better, and frequently we have the same music on our playlists.
So moms and aunties, have at it. Gay uncles may not add more members to life, but we can make life safer, better and infinitely more fun for the lives that are already here.
UPDATE: The author and wit, the “camp patrician,” Gore Vidal died at the age of 86 only hours after I penned this post. I was reading the announcement in the LA Times and noticed that his death was discovered and reported by his beloved “nephew.” I rest my case and although my feelings about Vidal are mixed in the extreme, I hope, indeed, that he rests in peace.