Usually when Mark leans against a wall, dressed in his perpetual denim jacket, you can mistake him for some relic from the age of James Dean or the premier year of Grease with Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.
Today though he’s wearing suit and tie and a white shirt and black shoes, and instead of the usual strands of hair sticking here and there around the ears and in the fringe, it’s wet and combed straight down so that he almost has to part the fringe with his fingers to see me when I get up from watching Maddow on the laptop and approach to hand him one of my hair-products.
The sceptical look, and the grip around the inhaler shows just how much he uses chemicals in his hair, or anywhere on his body. When we’re shopping he stands there reading labels to find effective non-industrial chemical variants to clean himself with.
I always have to shower after him because I use the whole kit to get my insubordinate hair in order in the morning, and I still have to stand near the window so that the chemicals can air out that way rather than into the house where he can smell them.
He has worn that suit twice since I came to know him. Once at my aunt’s fiftieth birthday, and second at a funeral for one of his many distant relatives over in Reading a while ago. He has borrowed my hair-kit once in the year we’ve been together, and that was at the funeral too.
So, the fact that he’s wearing it today is a sign that this is an important day, and it is, but I’m not involved in any bit of it, and will just have to wait until he comes back home. And when I wave him goodbye, and listen to the car start up outside, and then the crackle of gravel from under the wheel I feel like there’s a part of his life I’m not a part of suddenly.
We do everything together, of the things that matter anyway, and for me to stand there on the threshold to wave him off as he goes and does something that is important to him feels like I’m excluded. It is also the first time our relationship has become “a problem” because he’s off to a fund raiser for the animal shelter. Toffs and chavs and inbetweeners will mingle, and cheques will be written and toasts will be given, and everyone will smile and be photographed.
Partners aren’t invited. It’s strictly a thing for donors, volunteers, and such. It is particularly not for homosexual partners that can make the bigots close their wallets and their minds, and in extension the shelter itself if they don’t wring as much money out of the assembled as possible.
Is it then advisable to flaunt us in front of all those wallets? Maybe not. But it galls me, and I hope they choke on their hors d’oeuvres. Politics. Fie upon all their houses.
Except for Mark, of course.
I go back to watch Rachel Maddow when he’s left. I watch her lately, on and off. If I go to Oxford, I should study one of the Doctors there, right? No, my interest in Maddow was stimulated by an article in Rolling Stone magazine, and what I’m interested in is her method. Can I see the method on air?
It is refreshing to read about someone that detests the political game as much as I do. The political game is all about symbols, about presentation, and not about substance. It is about having a word, a gesture, an event, or a person – and have it symbolise a specific theme.
Sort of like… the flare up about Anderson Cooper, if we can pick a subject close to home.
Anderson Cooper is a person that I didn’t really know about until he came out a few days ago, and now it seems like every LGBT site I’m on is obsessing with the fact that he’s come out as a gay man, after being open about it for ages except professionally, and I’m filled with the usual mixed feeling of derision and satisfaction.
It’s like… when some LGBT group that’s big and influential give some celebrity an award for being the “year’s homosexual” without them having actually done anything except lift a fantastic salary by appearing on television in a regular or semi-regular fashion.
Part of me wants to scream at the shallowness of it because what does it say to the real “heroes” out there that wade in to save lives among the AIDS sufferers, or who risk their lives sheltering LGBT people in countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia, or who take a principled stand for equality under the law even if such a stand could end their careers. Where are those people celebrated?
It’s symbol politics that drive out the meat and substance of the real issues that underlie the fact that it’s such big news that Anderson Cooper comes out as a gay man. The symbol focuses on a theme, but it also hides the real issue. It reshapes the issue into an easily digested narrative with a protagonist and an antagonist. Who wins? Who takes a kicking? Who deserve to win? Who deserve the kicking? It’s all offered in that little nugget of a symbol, pre-thought and pre-assembled. Sort of like McDonalds politics. It fills you for about five seconds, and after that you’re hungry again.
Instead of discussing why we get so excited about it, we discuss that he’s done it, finally, at last. When it blows over, and we mention why it’s such big news, people just shrug. “That’s yesterday’s news, mate. Did you hear that Ellen DeGeneres broke her nail during filming of her episode? It’s probably a hate crime”.
The Rolling Stone article said that Maddow was different, so I decided to watch a few programs. Of course they were about subject that I have no interest in what-so-ever, but that could be good. If the subject didn’t engage me, then maybe the method would.
But I can’t get past the subjects. Or I’m not smart enough.