Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I Did Not Sign Up For This

A reader in the desert wants to know about this article entitled: "Gay or straight: He's still your husband":

I can get down with what the rabbi is saying. Relationships are about compromises. Her husband's admission to her of his feelings is not the end of the story. It’s the beginning of a discussion in which they find out if they can compromise or not. I will admit that discussion may never happen because some will be too hurt, angry, confused, making accusations about being "wrong" or just generally shocked to even consider accepting the reality and talking about it. I am not saying the woman isn't entitled to be pissed as hell and feel cheated. She doesn’t have to do a damn thing, but everybody doesn’t let go and give up easily.

If she is going to talk it out, it seems like her first question should be "why have you told me this?" Some will see the husband’s admission as unforgivable and the sign of a further desire to “cash-in". But this is playing the slippery slope game of "I know how everybody's sexuality works based on my subjective observations". The mainstream does this all the time by trying to enforce its dualistic "gay/straight" model on the entire population in the first place. Just the fact that this gentleman has decided he exists on the other side of that arbitrary line is not a statement about what he intends to do about it.

Perhaps he does not need to act on these feelings, but only needed to admit they were present. That may seem like a far-fetched idea, but maybe he has matured and has finally decided not to be intimidated by shame and fear of rejection any longer. Maybe he longs to be genuine and sincere in a desire for greater intimacy. For many people true intimacy trumps sexual preference and fantasy. Perhaps the wife does not require his strict fidelity and is willing to consider allowing him to "cash-in" under certain constraints. She might have her own wishes and desires she wants to explore as well. Maybe she would be willing to tolerate his experimentation if she has some leverage in negotiating how he goes about experimenting. Of course the rabbi didn't say anything about that. Or perhaps they won't be able to find a common ground they can both accept...but that can happen to couples no matter if the issue is sexuality, money or whatever.

Is the argument any different if the husband is admitting an attraction to another woman or type of woman? What if the admission is that he has no interest in sex at all and considers himself asexual? Can you remove sexuality from the wife's letter and replace it with any admission? What if he admits he is republican, or atheist, or chronically depressed, or doesn't want kids, etc.? Isn't it ultimately the same type of challenge? Isn’t the only real question “does she want and need him enough to try to understand?”

Two people who want to be in each others lives have to be committed enough to try to represent themselves and their needs. They have to be committed enough to try to be receptive to the other person and that person’s needs as well. We all change and we all discover new things about ourselves, but a person should understand and expect that potential outcome when they commit to a partner. How can we desire the personal freedom to grow and evolve, and seek to put limitations on those we claim to love? To give love is to encourage their growth and believe that the person we love is immutable and will always be there, regardless of what direction life takes them. I think if more of us received that kind of unconditional, reassuring love as children from our parents, then we would have an easier time conceiving of it between a husband and wife.

I know I sound like an idealist. Maybe these attitudes are why I am not married. Or maybe I just like guiltlessly sleeping with random women,and needed to throw y'all off the trail…whatever.

mr. wilson

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Chain Of Fools

I have been told on more than one occasion that I have an opinion about everything. To test this theory, I am going to accept one request per week and blog about that topic.

The following request comes from Fairfield, Connecticut and the reader writes:

"[mr. wilson, ] you need to write an eloquent blog called the Tao of Chain E-Mails...

i always get the 'pass on this prayer to 7 people' email from people would don't even write "hi" to me's a strange phenomenon.."

I am sorry, but I have nothing eloquent to say about chain emails. I suppose I could explore the reasons behind the forwarding, but that presumes rationality is at work in the universe of chain emails. Or I could try to empathize with the forwarder by getting inside his experience. But I find this surprisingly hard for me to do, like trying to clap offbeat or thinking of police officers as helpful.

Or maybe I could offer some kind, earthy observation like: "chain emails reveal a child-like optimism about magic, miracles, and magnanimity that lives in us all." That would be a nice thing to say, but I don't feel like being nice today.

I am far too tired today to hug the world and embrace humankind's quirky flaws. So rather than muse, I can only offer my pseudo-objective social commentary, thinly veiling my lonely sadness and contempt for the everyman.

Just for the purpose of this exercise, lets call the sender of the chain email Moe.

What is the first thing that goes through my mind when I get a chain email from Moe?: "Why me? C'mon Moe! Don't you have seven or ten or twenty friends who are equally gullible, superstitious, or stubbornly waiting on that free Microsoft money? They won't weep quietly for the failings of the public school system the way I will? And besides I only count for 3/5ths of a person anyway, so can't you send it to some land-owning white male and get your full karmic credit?"

Maybe I should be happy and take it as a compliment that Moe chose me, but then again I am neurotic enough to find an insult underneath a Christmas tree. I bet if Moe was lucky enough to have the email address of some highly respected and admired individual, (lets say Bill Frist) Moe would not even consider filling the senator's inbox with meaningless drivel? No Moe would closely scrutinize his correspondence with Frist, because Moe respects Bill's time and attention. Moe wants to inspire admiration and respect in the distinguished gentleman from Tennessee, but Moe could give a fuck about me. You see, Moe sends chain e-mails to me in a fit of passive aggressiveness that whispers, "your life is just as dull and uninteresting as mine so here is a little something to do between solitaire and sudokus."

I am not really mad at Moe for forwarding the chain email. I think most people forward the email because of a knee-jerk emotional reaction. Of coure, its always some negative emotion: trepidation ("don't want the good lord to smite me"), guilt ("I will not have the blood of some poor innocent child on my hands") or greed ("I don't want to block the 'blessings'"). Come to think of it, those are all fear in some form or another. But really, what does it hurt if our actions calm our fears and gives us a sense of power and control in an uncertain world? That never leads to any major trouble, right?

mr. wilson

Oh yeah, you can send all chain emails normally reserved for me to Senator Bill Frist by going here.