"No," I responded to the restaurant host, "It's me."
People are so tactless and ignorant these days. Technology has snatched away any people-skills our society may have possibly possessed, I do declare. I walk into a restauant to be seated, how you gonna look me in my face and ask me if it's JUST me? I'm all I need, you dumb-ass peasant. Now seat me before I put a hole in your dignity.
Bah, I wasn't really that mad then, and not so much now either. But it did start a process for me today that saw me to this blog. I wasn't mad enough to leave the restaurant, may I also add. So I sat, "just me" and ate a rack of ribs. And read "The Privilege of The Sword" (yes, still. I only read when I eat out). Then I had two "first X-Men movie, Rogue on the train before Wolverine finds her" experiences.
1) About 20 middle-aged bikers and their spouses and daughters (or their 2nd/3rd wives) came in for Sunday nosh, ponytails, moustaches, bandanas, and leather jackets galore. Chatting amicably, smiling, laughing, flipping hair. A great big family. Years-long in the making and the maintaining. Successfully human, in my eyes.
2) I went to Starbucks for latte and dessert. I was close to the end of the book. Next table away from me, a woman had left her sleeping baby in its carrier, facing me. The little creature looked as though it were actually having congress with angels behind its paper-thin eyelids. Then mother came and joined it, and took it out of its berth. The baby was a clone, I would swear it. A genetic doppleganger of her mother. She woke peacefully, curious and a little disoriented, but soon discovered she was in her mothers arms, so she knew (you could just tell) that she was okay with it. Mother saddled her on her shoulder and nuzzled her mossy head against her cheek. One loud kissy on the head and baby was good for the rest of my book read, which I immensely appreciated.
However, in came the thoughts of Rogue on the train, looking at the affection between parent and child and knowing she could never have that again, dancing like sugarplums in my head. But since I was reading the book and drinking a latte, and since I've felt this way before, I soldiered on.
Then I got to this part in the book;
"The kissing was very different: more like eating really, satisfying an appetite you hadn't even known was in you until you found yourself with a big mouthful of pleasure."
The narrative is from our sixteen-year old heroine, kissing a boy whom she has been having a slowly developing relationship with, starting off as friends. She has also previously kissed a full-grown woman, and fought with love for a female peer's honor. Her sexuality flows and ebbs throughout the book and I never knew which way she was going to go.
And that was yet ANOTHER Rogue moment.
Ellen Kushner, the writer, is a lesbian, unabashedly so. I learned this back when she had been on Hour of the Wolf, when she spoke about her book and her radio show and her wife (who was on Hour of the Wolf yesterday morning, as no small coincidence would have it). I tried not to care and got the book anyway because I liked her style of reading and the ideas she spoke of, seeing as how I was trying to write about a fantasy society and I wanted more in it than just magic and monsters. I'm still also trying not to care now that I've finished the book. And there's no "buts" really. I'm just trying not to care.
Okay, there is one 'but'. It comes in the form of someone else's words;
"I'm sure that somewhere there's a writer who had a happy childhood, but my experience is that a bad childhood makes you a tuning fork for other people's emotions. Fiction is a machine for evoking emotion, and you have to feel those emotions to be able to evoke them." That was Robert J. Howe, quoted from October's Analog Magazine.
I quote him, not to analyze Ellen Kushner's approach to sexuality in her book, 'but' to approach my own experience--as a writer--while reading it.
Was THAT what kissing is like? Or was that what kissing is like for a lesbian? Ellen wouldn't know what I, Alan, is supposed to expect from a good kiss, but I'm sure she didn't intend to use her writing to instruct me in particular, or the general population for that matter. Nevertheless, I was just left with all these "outside-looking-in" emotions.
In my fiction writing, when I've been really transparent and it's representing me in earnest, I find that I'm writing as though I were a homosexual. How does one do that? I guess, the way Ellen does. The lines of sexuality are blurred. My protagonist loves his hero as much as he loves his wife. I haven't figured out if that's good for my ability to write or bad for my hope to be 'normal' some day.
Because yeah as much as I try to come to terms with who I am, and with what has happened to me in the past--and as much as I try to laugh off statements from restaurant seaters that say "Is it just you?"--and as much as I reflect on my good days when I've been alone--and as much as I like my Benefactor's weeklong disappearances (yes, he's doing that again)--the truth is I get lonely. I don't get SO lonely, but I do miss the relationship with other people at times.
The truth is, I want to be normal. I want to have a wife. I want to have a kid or two, and I want to feel pure. I want to trust myself and believe that I would never bring a wife or a kid the kind of heartbreak that comes with "discovering who I really am" after 15 years of marriage and a son who is on the football team in high school. I know people survive that kind of event, and some even go on Oprah or Dr. Phil to make the audience weep and cheer for the success of weathering the change, but I would not survive it. I've been hurt too much for too long to live with myself if I did that to someone else. Especially to a child of mine, whom I took the responsibility of creating and promised to take care of when they had no one else to do it for them. Why would I? Not when I know what I know now, before the event. I'd have no excuse.
So I live the alone life. If I were a woman, maybe I'd enjoy homosexuality, but I would not enjoy it as a man. Society has made it a feast for the eyes to see women being friendly with one another, cooing and kvetching and holding hands and being arm in arm and kissing. (And it helps if one of them doesn't look like a man). But if two men do it, no matter if I'm in Missouri or in the middle of Greenwich Village, I am skeeved completely out. I want to be a man and I want men to be men. If I can't do that or have that, and so far the odds have been against me, then I live the alone life.
To which I'm sure gay guys are now responding "Serves you right you closeted, self-hating queer!" Heh.
To which I respond back, "Whatever, Miss Honey. Just like you, I am what I am."
I'm "Just" Me.
(Oh, and I'm a friend of My Hero's, so that's all right then.)