The Search for Love in Manhattan A gay odyssey of neurosis
Monday, November 28, 2005
Last Saturday I taught an aerobics class using a new CD I hadn't listened to ahead of time. Everything was going well, and then a song came on that sounded familiar. As I called out the steps, I thought, wait, can this really be a cover of that song? And shortly thereafter it became clear that yes, this really could be a cover of that song. It was "Without You," originally by Harry Nilsson, recorded later, Google informs me, by Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Air Supply, and Kelly Clarkson. The lyrics, for those of you unfamiliar with the song, go as follows:
No, I can't forget this evening, Or your face as you were leaving, But I guess that's just the way the story goes. You always smile, but in your eyes your sorrow shows; Yes, it shows.
No, I can't forget tomorrow When I think of all my sorrow, When I had you there but then I let you go. And now it's only fair that I should let you know What you should know:
I can't live if living is without you. I can't live, I can't give any more. I can't live if living is without you. I can't give, I can't give any more.
After about fifteen seconds of trying to teach to the song, I ran over to the stereo, said brightly, "Okay, folks, I have totally traumatic associations with this song, so we're going to skip it!", and moved to the next song, which was, if memory serves, some Kylie Minogue thing.
I'm sure they all thought it was a breakup song, which was just fine by me. Because actually my traumatic associations with the song have to do with the fact that my mother conceived a child before me but miscarried. She told me a story once about coming home after the doctor gave her the news and waiting in the car while my father went into the pharmacy to get her anti-cramp medication, turning on the radio, and listening to "Without You." And now I can never hear that song without thinking of my mother there in the turned-off car, mourning her dead child--whom they had been referring to as Junior--probably knowing that even if she had more children eventually her illness would ravage her body and kill her in the prime of her life, as in fact it did. I can't hear that song without thinking of her blighted hopes and her constant struggle against pain and her childhood lived in fear of a monstrous mother and the magnitude of what she was able to accomplish in the world despite the deck stacked so mercilessly against her.
When I'm shopping in the drugstore and "Without You" comes on the radio, it's not such a big deal; I can take a moment, get wistful, and then go back to hoping that Rembrandt® Toothpaste will make my teeth so white it will solve all my problems.
But when I'm in front of a room full of type-A twenty-somethings, shrieking, "Around the world! Knees higher! I know you can do it! Make the calories beg for mercy!", hearing anybody sing "You always smile, but in your eyes, your sorrow shows. . . . I can't live if living is without you, I can't give, I can't give any more" is simply more than I am equipped to handle.
In the first scene of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in which Hermione wakes him and Harry up after Harry's nightmare, Ron's shirt was from last summer's H&M collection, and I totally have it.
Now if only the rest of the movie had progressed like I wanted it to, and hunky Oliver Wood the former Gryffindor Quidditch captain had come back to visit, having discovered a few things about himself at wizard college that he wanted to share with Harry.
Last night E.S. and I went to see Pride and Prejudice, which we loved (E.S. cried three times). Afterwards we had the following conversation:
E.S.: And the dialogue was so great! FAUSTUS: Yeah, why don't you ever say things to me like that? E.S.: Like what? FAUSTUS: "You bewitch me, body and soul." (Pause.) E.S.: Okay, let me try. You kind of bewitch me, body and soul. FAUSTUS: What? E.S.: Wait, I forget. What is it? You sort of bewitch me sometimes? FAUSTUS: I don't believe this. E.S.: Hold on, I know I can get it. FAUSTUS: I hate you. E.S.: You make me feel real good? FAUSTUS: Don't ever touch me again.
Okay, so let's say you run a new gay television station; let's call it, oh, I don't know, here!. And let's say you decide to put a show called, say, Dante's Cove in your lineup, ostensibly a drama with the supernatural elements of Buffy, the late-teen banter of Dawson's Creek, and the sex scenes of Queer as Folk.
I can understand why you'd want the acting to be as wooden as possible; it detracts from the execrable dialogue.
But do you really think it's necessary that both of your heroes be played by cross-eyed actors?
There is so very much wrong with the world, and so many things great and small that I can do nothing about, and even if I could I wouldn't have the faintest idea where to begin, and so much is beyond my control and my comprehension that it's depressing even to contemplate.
On the plus side, today I weighed under 140 pounds for the first time in months.
I loathe children, as you all know, but find them much less terrifying on Hallowe'en, when they are dressed as scary monsters, than at other times, when they are dressed as themselves. In joyful anticipation of the arrival of hordes of three-foot-tall devils and Screams and Karl Roves, I bought ten trillion pounds of wrapped chocolate on Monday afternoon.
I had one trick-or-treater. He had a lame red mask on that wasn't the slightest bit scary. He took one piece of chocolate, but then I made him take three more.
Then I ate all the rest of it today, all nine trillion, nine hundred ninety-nine billion, nine hundred ninety-nine million, nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine pounds and fifteen ounces of it.
Perhaps I can avoid my bathroom scale tomorrow morning if I imagine that it is actually a small child in a costume. Or Karl Rove.
Of course, as some of you have noted, one of the first problems that presented itself after we decided to do this was the fact that, aside from the utter absurdity of the thought of my living in Brooklyn, I would have to change the name of my blog. This prompted the following conversation with E.S.
FAUSTUS: Shit. If I'm living in Brooklyn, I have to change the name of my blog. E.S.: Well, you have to change it anyway. FAUSTUS: What do you mean? E.S. (meaningfully): The search for love? Now that you've found it, you don't have to search for it anymore. FAUSTUS: Whatever. (E.S. raises an eyebrow.) FAUSTUS (backtracking): I mean, I've always thought of that as referring to the search not just for romantic love but also for agape, spiritual love, and philia, brotherly love. E.S.: Then that's it. You should change the name of your blog to The Search for Agape in Brooklyn. (Pause.) FAUSTUS: I hate you.
When I was six, I picketed my house, hoping to be allowed to eat breakfast before getting dressed rather than after.
I marched back and forth in front of our front door, carrying a sign that said "BREKFAST FIRST DRESSED LATER."
My parents, being civil rights workers, didn't cross picket lines, and that was the only way into or out of our house,
so they were trapped there until they acceded to my demand.