Monthly Archives: February 2009
My brother makes fun of me for reading fantasy novels. I’ll gasp after a page turn and he’ll say, “What, did a one-eyed elf use the magic sword of Fordmotoria to wipe his ass?”
Let him mock, I say. I have thought about this a great deal, and I have come to the conclusion that nerds read fantasy as a form of wish fulfillment. For us it’s all about the wizards. The wizards are always physically weak, highly intelligent loners whom nobody else likes or trusts. And of course so are the nerds.
But the crucial difference is here: In this world, when we are abused for being different there is nothing we can do. We are impotent.
In the world of fantasy novels, we can call down fire from the heavens and burn our enemies alive.
The problem is that the book always ends. Somebody always looks off into the distance to watch the dragons fly away or pulls the hood over his head as he steps into the shadow of the woods or sits back down from stoking the fire and picks his pipe up again, whereas we have to go to school the next day. I don’t see how Columbine and Virginia Tech were a surprise to anybody.
You may remember that E.S.’s parents moved in with us some months ago so that the family could be together during the last days of Mr. S., who had recently been diagnosed with end-stage esophageal cancer.
Well, Mr. S. died several weeks ago. I haven’t written about it because people commented on the above-linked post as if I were doing something deeply heroic, which was not true. I mean, your fiancé says, hey, can my dying father move in with us so the family can be together during his last days, and you’re going to say “no”?
In any case, as I’ve mentioned, I have a great deal of experience living with the terminally ill, experience which I had assumed would come in handy as Mr. S. faded. When his blood relatives found themselves emotionally unmoored, I knew, I would be able to help them find ways to handle what was going on.
I was, however, wrong.
Because it seems that Protestants don’t deal with death by continually making morbid jokes about it.
Jews are not like this. The closer somebody is to death, the funnier Jews are about it. People have been killing Jews for millennia, so we’re used to the idea; it’s a well known joke that the answer to “what’s the meaning of [any given Jewish holiday]?” is “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.”
My mother was Episcopalian, but she’d been married to a Jew for decades, so her pseudo-Anglican sensibilities had been blunted into non-existence. And when she was dying our house might as well have been the set of a Comedy Central special. It was unthinkable that any of us would ask whether anybody wanted anything from the drugstore and not be answered with, “Some morphine or a casket, whichever’s cheaper.” My favorite moment came a few days after my mother died. My father was talking about the snazzy new car phone he’d bought a few months before (this was in 1992, before cell phones). Our conversation went something like this:
MR. FAUSTUS: I was just so glad to have that phone, because it meant that your mom could reach me no matter where I was–at the office, on the way home, wherever. It really was a lifesaver.
FAUSTUS: Well, not quite.
Now, given that E.S.’s parents have a spirit guide named 28, one could argue that they ought not in fact to be classified as Protestants, but they are from Iowa, where apparently people are Protestant no matter what religion they are.
And so within a few hours of Mr. and Mrs. S.’s arrival, I learned that the way I could best help would be to keep my fucking mouth shut. I don’t remember the attempts at humor I made–doubtless the S.s’ appalled reaction has led me to repress any knowledge–but I do remember that when Mr. E.S. said he’d spent his whole life working and being busy and now what was he good for, I bit my tongue before “fertilizer” came out of my mouth, and realized I had a difficult time ahead of me.
A week or two ago I found this book on my shelf and figured I might as well reread it.
While I am not such a naïf as to be aware neither that the representation of the cadet of these two men might conceivably be thought to share a feature or two with me nor that the older could be considered to bear not a little resemblance to
the man I dream of fucking me six ways to Sunday Christopher Meloni, it is nevertheless not the case that the only merits I find in this book are the sex scenes (though the sex scenes are, to be frank, pretty meritorious). There’s also a surprisingly compelling tale of international politics, piracy, and war in the age of Elizabeth.
I offer this as background information to this conversation I had with my fiancé.
E.S.: What’s that you’re reading?
FAUSTUS: It’s this gay romance novel set in Elizabethan England and on the high seas. It’s pretty hot.
E.S.: Oh, that’s so cute.
FAUSTUS: What do you mean?
E.S.: Well, in real life, by the time these two guys reached the ages they’re supposed to look like, they would actually be bowlegged, haggard and wrinkled from the hardship of daily life, toothless from scurvy, and probably yellow and vomiting from malaria.
FAUSTUS: I hate you.
E.S.: It’s my responsibility to see that you don’t take an unrealistic view of history.
FAUSTUS: Get away from me.
The man who has never been seen in the same room as me has a story in a just-published anthology of gay romantic fiction called Fool for Love.
From what I understand, the man who has never been seen in the same room as me knows little to nothing about romance (apparently he likes to think otherwise, but the number of men in New York who gainsay him is large enough to constitute incontrovertible proof), so I can’t imagine the story will be any good, but my hopes for editors Timothy J. Lambert and R. D. Cochrane and authors David Puterbaugh, Mark G. Harris, Shawn Anniston, Brandon M. Long, Felice Picano, Rob Byrnes, Trebor Healey, Josh Helmin, Jeffrey Ricker, Paul Lisicky, ‘Nathan Burgoine, Rob Williams, Andrew Holleran, Greg Herren, and John H. Roush are much higher.