Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Newlyweds were kind of popular shows on the telly when I came to the conclusion that if I were to ever do that disgusting activity that you should probably never do it would be with a boy.
Sometimes, while flipping through the trillions of telly channels, I would stop on Queer Eye. The snippets that I saw of the “queer eyes” turned and twisted my tummy terribly. They had lots of product in their hair, wore insufferably strange trousers, and, just in general, looked as if they had spent the last gazillion hours scrubbing themselves in a shower stall. All these boys seemed to care about was their bodies. They didn’t watch PG movies or collect teddy bears or commit French poetry to memory. Their primary concern was the appearance of their flesh as well as the flesh of the straight guys that they were making over.
Straight people are just as corporeal as gays. Nick Lachey is a straight boy. He sort of has massive muscles and wears product in his hair. Whenever I saw Nick on the Newlyweds, I said to myself, “I do not want to be like this boy. I want to be like Jessica!” Jessica was quirky and inquisitive. She was thoughtful about that which she interacted with. She asked questions, like why a tuna fish company would name themselves Chicken of the Sea. Nick seemed unable and unwilling to string sentences together. But Jessica was a cute chatterbox, like Anne Frank when she was in school.
I first remember perceiving the term “The New York Times,” sometime in the mid-nineties, living in Granger, Indiana. My parents, a Jew and a soon-to-be-converted Jew, who had spent their entire lives (thirty-something years) on the East Coast, were beginning to feel the cultural ache that came along with Midwestern life. They subscribed to the Sunday edition in order to reconnect with their intellectual elitist roots—a form of journalism invested in the liberal ideology, the arts and sciences of a better tomorrow, which actually did seem possible during the long reign of Clinton’s social wealth. My sister and I bought silly putty and warped the faces of Calvin and Hobbes, of politicians and Paul O’Neill. About a year later my parents cancelled the subscription for reasons I can’t quite recall. Maybe it was because of the money (at that point they didn’t make a lot), maybe it was because they realized they were so isolated, one thousand miles from the local and penetrating stories that carried no immediacy or urgent weight. Or maybe it was because they thought the news was not what it once was. They’ve said this before about 60 Minutes as the past two decades have rolled by, growing more and more nostalgic for something that may never have even been there.
Bear with me. People have opinions about Jonathan Franzen. These opinions are rarely mild. There’s something about his personality and the way he negotiates his public image that invites discussion. I thought I had an opinion about Jonathan Franzen but the more I think about it, the more I realize he is not part of my literary vocabulary. If I never read another book of his again, my life would not come to an end. I loved The Corrections. That seems like a contradiction. I thought The Corrections was a great story, meandering and sweeping and engaging. But I’ve only read it once. I loved it but have never felt compelled to pick the book up again so maybe I don’t love The Corrections. Maybe I just really like it. I am excited to read Franzen’s forthcoming novel, Freedom, which I will be enjoying with The Rumpus Book Club. On Facebook, I think, I saw someone (Kyle Minor?) observe that people seem to enjoy taking down successful, ambitious people in reference to a lot of the recent commentary in various outlets about the VQR “situation.” I do not necessarily disagree. Successful, ambitious people are easy targets because we see them plainly and we have opinions about what they do and how we would do what they do and whether or not they deserve to those things they do and the privileges they enjoy because of how well or the public perception of how well they do the things they do.
September 2nd, 2010 / 3:19 pm