Thursday, April 4, 2013

4/4 - Looking to Tuesday

The only real point of interest in the Thursday letters this week was the almost thrown-away sentence towards the end of L1. LW1 summed up that she and BF1 had discussed the matter at length, he had realized how and why he was wrong, and he had apologized. What about answering the telephone during intimacy would necessitate a lengthy discussion? Either BF1 could not get why  it was so serious an infraction to LW1, in which case LW1 has potentially good grounds for dumping, or perhaps LW1 ought to make over BF1 to Gina from the Tuesday collection. Clearly BF1 can be dominated by women. He may well have a taste for it. And LW1 has a man who is amenable to lengthy discussions of his infractions and she still wonders if she ought to flee? She lacks the taste for dominance which would make her the best match for BF1. Gina from Tuesday ought to suit him a great deal better.

But it is the main Tuesday letter, which the Prudecutor almost gets right, that is the true gem of the week. This time, we shall not go back quite so far in time as to revisit Miss Austen. L1 is a variation on a plot line from Queer as Folk.

It was fortunate that, during the run of the series, the supportive parents (Michael's and Justin's mothers) appeared far more often than the non-supportive (Justin's father, Brian's and Lindsay's parents). Of the parental backgrounds, Lindsay's parents, of the country club set, have the highest in social status. They first appear when Lindsay and Melanie attend Lindsay's sister's third (all parentally financed) wedding in five years, and somehow agree to bring male escorts. Clear favouritism has been established. The Petersons' final appearance marks the most outrageous act of Lindsay's mother. During the period when Lindsay and Melanie are separated in the final season, Mama P convinces her daughter to return home, arranges a little dinner party including a divorced male contemporary of Lindsay's, and not only turns out to have tried to set the two up, but is also revealed to have informed her desired-potential-son-in-law that Lindsay had just broken up with a man.

In the second season, when Lindsay and Melanie marry, they have the temerity to ask the Ps (we never meet any of Melanie's relations, who apparently aren't much or any better) for financial assistance towards the grand day. They are flatly refused; it isn't a "real" wedding, as Mrs P explains during a tension-laden restaurant meal. In a second attempt, the couple plan to throw a very WASPy brunch, so that the Ps could meet their friends and perhaps feel more at home in such a group. A harp appears. Lindsay dons a WASPy blouse that makes her breasts appear about a third of their usual size. The Ps phone to beg off on grounds of Mr P's back trouble. Melanie secretly slips away, goes to the parental home, find the Ps preparing to play mixed doubles, and gives them a more honest assessment of their conduct and character than she permits herself to do in Lindsay's company, along with an account of how much effort Lindsay had put into the party. Back at the party, Brian drugs the punch. The atmosphere lightens, the assembled company loses considerable inhibitions and clothing, and a raucous good time is in progress when the Ps finally show up after all. Mrs P sucks four dozen lemons and walks out at once; Mr P gives an almost wistful look as he follows. No aid for the wedding, alas.

Presently, in another episode, another conflict arises with Mrs P on the telephone. Lindsay has all her life been promised that, when she marries, she can wear Granny Faye's wedding dress. But Mrs P thinks that the promise would only apply if it were a "real" wedding. Lindsay and Melanie then decide to go over when the Ps are out and take the dress without permission or notice. There they find a packet of letters from a woman named Vera. Vera and Faye became lovers during the war while their husbands were in the army. They planned to leave their husbands and live together, but Vera funked it when the time came. The final letter in the series, written decades later, explained that Vera had had a good enough life and marriage but had never stopped loving Faye. Strangely, that letter had arrived two year after Granny Faye's death, and been put with all the other letters from Vera. How had that happened?

Now, to this LW. I was pleasantly surprised by the Prudecutor, who had in the past advised LWs uncovering controversial materials among the belongings of the dear departed to burn such articles. I certainly agree that the LW ought to take steps to prevent the destruction of the letters. Sooner or later, there is bound to be an LGBT member of the family, for whom the letters would make a grand present. Those members of the commentariat who advise keeping the secret but not destroying the letters are basically just passing on the problem to whoever happens to go through the effects left behind when the LW dies in future. (Vague hints of Sir Quentin Oliver and his plan to lock up the autobiographies of the members of his little association for seventy years.) It is true that putting the letters away for a period of time may result in their coming to life when nobody who knew Granny will be affected personally; would such a thing be good or bad?

It feels a little like splitting hairs to inquire into the nature of the death, as some among the commentors have done. There's not enough that can be inferred about the wishes of the deceased. I'd advise a subcommittee drawn from the supportive members of as many branches of the family as possible. An inquiry might better be directed towards whether there is a hierarchy within the family that would give the LW and her mother more of a say about Granny's legacy than other relations. The Prudecutor's advice to share first with Mamma leaves open the possibility that Mamma may bring about a stalemate by insisting that the matter never be mentioned. Much safer for the LW if others who share the LW's viewpoint know about Granny first. There is also the question of whether to contact anyone in Maude's family. The Prudecutor and her commentariat completely miss that issue entirely; nobody considers it at all. And yet, as Granny and Maude were acknowledged as lifelong (best) friends, it would be rather odd for their families to be complete strangers each to the other.

And I can't help but wonder whether the LW bears some resemblance to Senator Portman. It might  have been "hurtful" to hear homophobic slurs at family gatherings, but the LW doesn't appear ever to have done or said anything about that before, and only feels inclined to speak up now because the issue has hit home. This is not exactly the stuff of a ringing endorsement.

Moral: "Granny Faye was... a dyke!"

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