Thursday, April 1, 2010

4/1 DP - Bleah

As this week's crop of letters largely manages to defeat Austenian, Murdochian, Sparkian and perhaps even Woolfian analogy, I shall be fairly quick.

Before starting, however, I want to raise a point about cross-examination from Monday and Mr Now-I-Like-Women, after looking at some possible strategies at his disposal.

He can always go in a more or less straightforward manner, but it might be advisable not to date long term for some time. A fantasy is one thing and a reality quite another. It would not be prudent to commit oneself too soon when one is relatively unsettled. But this may be too dull.

A more interesting course of action may be to continue to use his gay identity and to get flirty with women as a gay man. This may prove intriguing to certain women. Some may enjoy the challenge or see themselves as Heroines of Heterosexuality rescuing a Poor Confused Soul. Even if they don't go that far, some might let down their guard with a gay friend until a Magic Moment arrives and the earth changes the course of its rotation.

But there are grander possibilities afoot for our hero. He can go one farther and become a full-fledged Ex-Gay. Go to one of those churches with a conversion program and testify, testify, testify. Even go through the program and emerge as a success story if desired. Do it well and there's a career opportunity as a spokesman for the program, but at the very least they will provide a nice ex-lesbian wife. And there is further potential advantage - if he swings back the other way, he might meet his future Ex-Ex-Gay partner there as well. The possibilities are mouth-watering.

Now I come to my point about cross-examination. It is not always about asking the right question; sometimes one finds the right question not to ask. In *Rumpole for the Prosecution*, Rumpole, being a fair prosecutor, after establishing that the murdered woman might have used the name of a Victorian author as a pseudonym for the defendant in her diary and meeting with no objection from defence counsel, asks Chief Inspector Brush if Christopher Jago's coming forward voluntarily after his return from abroad was a reason he was not charged with the murder of Veronica Fabian. When the Chief Inspector replies that that was why they thought Jago was being honest, Rumpole whispers to Soapy Sam Ballard, "I've just made your best point for you. Don't ruin it." Ballard then proceeds to asks if the police still think Jago was being honest, only to get the reply that, if Jago really knew Veronica after all, how could anyone believe any of his evidence?

In this case I noticed one or two posters drawing the conclusion that they might feel confident dating the questioner despite his past, as he had tried men and realized what he didn't want. But notice that the questioner provides no evidence whatsoever concerning his relationships with men. He voices no complaint about dating men or the relationships he had, and for all we know might even still be in a same-sex relationship at this moment. Given how many or perhaps even most of those who want to leave "the gay lifestyle" behind are prone to instancing something they found rather less than desirable about it, this omission jumped out at me.

Now it might tempt a cross-examiner to try to follow up on the question. But I should not touch this with a ten inch pole. Why run the risk? There is little to be gained even from confirmation of one's ideas, and a golden opportunity to use the omission to great effect in one's final speech. There is not one scrap of evidence, members of the jury, that this witness' new interest in dating women came after or coincided with any loss of interest in dating men, etc.

L1: I have nothing to say to this letter writer. I have not uttered the V word in the entire course of my adult life, and it would be rather late for me to start now. But I shall make one quick point. Most relationships now start with hook-ups that become serious? Declare the Culture Wars over, Maggie Gallagher - Teh Gaiboiz hazz won. Anything not nailed down in the next twenty years or so won't stand much longer if the stereotypical gay mindset has truly succeeded in so conquering Young Heterosexuality.

L2:Poor LW2. I can only hope that she has a devoted lifelong family friend sixteen years her senior to marry me as compensation for her devotion to her father. If not, then she should at least read *Emma* again and take heart from that.

L3: I am still fuming over this one, but shall do my best. While DP is hideously condescending on this one and only right by accident about a couple of minor points, there is excellent cross-examination fodder. How fat is fat? I know people who call themselves fat because of a size 33 waist. Where exactly in the Hierarchy of Beauty would he fall, if we were to accept it as entirely valid? As there is a modicum of truism (despite the gamut of Specialized Tastes out there wherein LW3 might find he has a stronger claim than he thinks) in the opening assumption, it could make a difference. If his friend is, for example, a Matthew Broderick, is he a Michael Moore or a Harvey Fierstein? And is his feeling out of the loop due to his just carrying around a few more pounds than the idealized Gym Rat although he is in reasonable shape, or is he in dire need of Richard Simmons? Has he completely surrendered to the idea of being Unable to Get a Seven, or can he emulate Camryn Mannheim (I am rather tempted to recommend her book *Fat! So?* except that I've never seen it and wonder whether it might be too aggressive) and present his Best Self to the world, taking whatever it brings him?

While there are virtues in a Slow Approach, I must proclaim myself still angered by DP's proposed course of action from which I infer that she views LW3's making any show of interest as sure to meet with disgust and repulsion. She seems more to be advising him on the proper procedure for defusing a bomb than on attempting to date a friend. But besides the insult, her course might not be practical. If his hot friend is a Pretty Person, said friend might have no experience in or liking for making the necessary first move. Should LW3 repress himself out of fear that Making the First Move would be a Terrible Mistake, they will drift along in limbo until PP, after several moments that could have been The Right Time go unexploited, finds someone less interesting but prettier and bolder, and moves on with some reluctance for What Might Have Been. And the condescension in his being relegated to the Remnants Pile is all the more striking because of the attempt to cover it up, much more so than for the very limited range of truth contained. LW3 need only follow a couple of Twink-v-Bear threads I've seen on various sites to discover that there's more of a market for him than he thinks, even if he doesn't choose to trim down to model weight. One is reminded of the Prince of Arragon - "I will not choose what many men desire/Because I will not jump with common spirits", etc.

It really seems that both DP and LW3 have taken the exaggerated parts of *Broadway Damage* far too seriously. It makes me think of early on when Marc doesn't think much of Robert's chances with Hair-in-Face ("This is America; there are rules here"), and the later rebuttal, perhaps Cynthia's best moment, when she attacks the Hierarchy itself out of disgust over Robert thinking he can't declare his affection for Marc.

I'm almost inclined to think that LW3 should instead take a page from *Get Real*. Steven may not be fat, but his relationship with John, the School Star, seems quite unequal enough as far as the Hierarchy goes. Only we see that Steven has rather the stronger character. It may not be the case that LW3 could find something in his mirror that his friend sees and admires, but it might do him good to acknowledge the possibility.

Of course, if LW3 lives in one of the correct states, he might try changing his name from Burton to Barton and marrying someone who needs citizenship, but I shouldn't feel right advising anyone to embark on a course of embezzlement. Now I just have to get rid of the nasty taste in my mouth from all that thinking about "levels" and such.

L4: There must be some clever way for LW4 and his wife to bring this sort of thing out to best effect, but I am too fed up with the paralyzed attitude to tell them a thing. Let them punch their own way out of the paper bag.


  1. Greetings hrumpole! You know, I hadn't read the "Chat Room" yet this week, so didn't know about our erstwhile hetero-, homo-, potential heterosexual letter writer. Overall, I was pleased with Prudie on this letter. I cringed when I read it because I was afraid she was going to go into the Crazy Zone that she sometimes finds herself in, but, for the most part, she did fine. The same can't be said, as you so eloquently point out, for her answer to LW#3 in this week's Prudie column. Oh well, perhaps she'll slowly learn? Likely not.

    As for this little gem, "But I should not touch this with a ten inch pole", I can only say that if there's even 80% truth in that implication, I'm *still* suffering from 30% envy! Holy smokes! But, we can't all be so fortunate as to be able to use it as a walking cane should the need arise. ;-)

    As for LW#4, I have a bit more sympathy for that paralyzed feeling, but only because the enlisted portion is super-important. One can lose an entire career for even being suspected in such a venture, and then, on top of that, in a cruel twist of double jeopardy, can still be charged on the outside. I am hoping that's part of the concern here, the fact that they're close to the family that they suspect might be selling stolen goods, and, as such, they fear that they may be implicated. If not, I'm right there with you in desiring them to grow up a bit.

    Outstanding read, as always, hrumpole. I will admit that your response to LW#2 sailed completely over my head, so I'll have to go read "Emma" as well in order to get the reference. ;-)

    Good cheer! :-)

  2. Ah - well, I have noticed a typo in the L2 section, which referred to Emma's (and hopefully the LW's) marrying Mr Knightley - there is a "me" that ought to be a "her". Emma's one redeeming quality was her kindness and affection for a father whose mental processes were never all that much to begin with and who would have exasperated anyone unrelated to him trying to find the role of companion tolerable.