Why is it that gay men are so highly opinionated about the correct option or iteration or expression in any given category?
For instance, C and I took the subway to the Brooklyn Museum last Sunday to see the Gilbert and George exhibition. Even the smallest of details catch the eye. In this MTA sign, the word Today needs either a comma or an apostrophe s. And earlier, the subway and bus fare teeters disturbingly on the brink of requiring a plural verb.
Regarding art, we are ever more fussy. Gilbert and George left C unmoved but I was delighted. It was lavish, self-absorbed, highly stylized, over-scaled, erotic, with highly saturated colors, and, with religious overtones. (Rather like me, I suppose you’re thinking.)
I wonder what it would be like to forge a lifelong career with one’s partner as have these two Brits. C and I have on occasion collaborated. About seventeen years ago, I had a solo show of photography for which C designed and manufactured the unusual metal frames that undulated like roller coaster tracks. Little aggravation in the production of that, but to work together daily? He tends to staunch my torrential crypticisms and I tend to give structure and broader cultural context to his instincts. This is often good but sometimes the mitigation tends to blunt the result, and so I conclude that occasional collaboration is better than a constant one. Gilbert and George appear to be on entirely the same wave length, or, perhaps one is entirely a follower of the other.
Later, in the locker room of the gym, C is flapping his towel to create dynamic cooling by bouncing the air off the wall. I mumble something about “for every action there is a reaction” and am corrected with the addition of “equal and opposite”. I don’t know my thermodynamics, but later, as we pass a flower vendor, I am vindicated as C attempts to quote the Hepburn/calla lily line from Stage Door. (Can you do it? I’ll put it at the end of this post.) I also demand of him that he quote perfectly the famous inscription over the façade of the Eighth Avenue Post Office building in midtown Manhattan. (Also supplied at the end of this post.) You never know when you might run into Alex Trebek at the Eagle.
Passing a newsstand, we see that Hugh Jackman has been named the sexiest man alive. This is mutually disagreeable. Mr. Jackman is definitely a woman’s idea of sexy. We, however, find him beautiful in a symmetrical and textbooked way, but not really sexy. I remark that Daniel Craig recently replied “Hugh Jackman” when asked for whom he would “go gay”. We weigh the merits of parting with cash for the privilege of seeing that match, and decide that there are preferable couplings, such as Benicio del Toro and Antonio Banderas. Even here, if you were to put ten gay men in a room, you’d have ten extremely different and equally adamant opinions about which straight male celebrities they would like to see paired. I think the list produced by ten straight women would be vastly different. Gay men can imagine manipulating a gorgeous brute, but straight women will dial up a man with greater gentility in his features.
We are now at Times Square to see the new Walgreen’s sign. I raise my gloved hands in the air and proclaim “Gay men can abide brutalism in their sexual fantasies but cannot abide it in architecture.” Here’s the reaction.
C and I drop this issue and begin to focus on a passing song, Cherish the Love by Kool and the Gang. Its lyrics are just plain stupid:
I often pray before I lay down by your side
And if you receive your calling before I awake
Could I make it through the night
(We are not sure if often is really hope and in the actual lyric, but it doesn’t matter. The author was probably aiming at a musical reference to the traditional “Now I lay me down to sleep” poem. His results are entirely botched. In his lyrics. he is basically saying that if the person asleep by his side should die in the course of the night, he’s not sure he could get a complete and decent night’s sleep. He is rather praying not to be inconvenienced. Cherish the love?? Yeah. Right. Also, we take delight in the chintzy but oddly mesmerizing moment when that song breaks into a sweet harmony on a single line: by your side. You know you love that moment in the song. Sing it. You know you want to.
We ponder other musical mysteries, such as, will that other Clinton, George, be invited to the inaugural events to perform his funkadelic Paint the White House Black. Not likely, given the lyrics. We wonder if we are now scraping the bottom of the barrel of oppression in asking for gay marriage. Blacks have achieved respectability. Gays are almost there. Who’s left? Practicioners of bestiality? Five years from now will we all be asked to help carry the banner of Mandola (The man/dog love association)?
I end the day mumbling about the fact that the word suitable should be followed by for, and that suited should be followed by to but, in either case, the calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower. Suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day, and now I place them here in memory of something that has died because neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
This Gilbert and George t shirt in the gift shop of the Brooklyn Museum pretty much sums it all up.