Compare and Despair

Hot Wax and Chains J. Patrick Walsh

There is an endless stream of ‘good news’ on Facebook.  The parties, the marriages, the births, the home renovations and the ubiquitous instagramed plates of delicious (and not so delicious) breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The grandiose exclamations of joy and delight.  The boasting, the dressing up… the glitter and sangria.

In between the nihilistic leather soirees and endless travelogues come occasional glimpses of the pain and suffering most of us endure but seldom want to admit.  At least… not on social media.  Not to those who seem to be having the time of their lives every single day.

Two deaths this week.  One old lady I never knew and one young man I did.  Sandwiched between bottles of french wine and exotic vacations on the French Riviera is the truth.  The young American who can’t stop drinking and the miserable single woman who can’t get the man to stay.

They say, when I post my bits and pieces, that I am angry… lonely… sad.  When I don’t agree with a theme they say I am a sullen contrarian.  When I post expressions of joy I am inundated with ‘likes’ as if my happiness needs affirming.

My friend’s mother dies peacefully in the hospital bed.  He updates us by the hour.  Her final words remind us of our own mortality.  I am so grateful he tells us so.  I learn so much more from her last words than a another blurry picture of enchiladas posted at some obscure Mexican restaurant where my ‘friends’ boast of the wonderful time they are having.

I have stopped posting pictures of parties, of other people in their gorgeous homes.  I have stopped reporting which celebrities I have seen and what they were doing.  Of late I have been concentrating on injustice.  My own and others.

The realtor who engages his powerful friends to incarcerate.  We are getting to the bottom of that mucky situation.  The way the rich use government institutions to their own ends.  Corrupt district attorneys, prosecutors and law enforcement.  We are getting to the bottom of that one.  Slowly, like archeologists gently removing layer after layer of dirt… getting to what was so carefully buried.  For every corrupt official there is another eager to help.

For the time being I have to be obtuse.  That will end… sooner or later.  I am patient .  I can wait.

Bradley Manning, queer hero, his trial starts today.   Although I doubt we will get the outcome we desire and that boy will probably spend the rest of his life in jail for doing the right thing… he will not be forgotten.  Bradley Manning will not be forgotten.

Paul, my white gay friend, the talent manager.  I saw him yesterday.  He had been to a Liberace viewing party in the hills.  A bunch of straight acting gay boys watching Liberace in the opulent surroundings of an older gay man.  Their reaction was as expected… they hated it.  They didn’t see what Liberace  had to do with their lives.  You see, they complained… they wanted to see themselves.  Paul couldn’t understand why Scott Thorson (who he knows) had his story told.  He described Scott as a ‘user’.  He said he thought it was ‘unfair’ that Scott’s story was told rather than a ‘gay hero’.

“Who?”  I asked.  “Which gay hero?”

His brow furrowed.  He’ll get back to me with the answer.

Then it occurred to me why a bunch of boys under the age of 25 drinking free booze in the house of an older Hollywood oligarch might not like the film Liberace.  Rather than not seeing themselves… on the contrary, they all saw themselves exactly and hated what they saw.

Like on Facebook the ugly truth is sometimes sandwiched between the glitter and sangria.

No matter how deeply it is buried.

11 replies on “Compare and Despair”

As always, a very good read. I agree with every word. May the smiley face admits that it comes with a frown… eventually… someday… and hopefully we’ll all be ok with it.

Your friend’s moralism is annoying. Every relationship on this planet is some form of transaction, and people are a sum of all of their characteristics. Why do people have relationships with me? Each one will have their own reason. We’re all used and we’re all users.
The little girl who speaks with her little voice when she wants something from her father is a user. Did Barbara Bush marry George just because he was great fun? How about Lady Diana and Charles? The nature of relationships is that people have something to exchange. Beauty, intelligence, money- it’s all on the table.

Why the term “user” for children?. I agree that most but not all relationships are negotiations? Is a toddler who whines to get parent to give more love and attention a manipulator? I think that a user or manipulator is someone who takes but does not give. I’m not comfortable identifying children negatively when they attempt to get what they need from the adults around them. But in relationships where both are on the same maturity level, only taking and getting is how I would characterize a user.

1. Why not the term user for children? Are you, like the man mentioned above, presuming that using is negative? And yes, a whiny toddler is attempting to manipulate.
2. There’s no such thing as a relationship that’s not a negotiation. Children count on their parents and depending on how that goes parents may one day count on their children. Spouses are getting something from each other. The same is true of friends. Every relationship is about giving and taking.
3. One can presume that Liberace was also getting something out of the relationship he chose to be in (whatever it may have been) and that’s not necessarily better or worse than the people who live next door to you.
Everyday ,heterosexual, same-aged couples start relationships. Money, lust, power and connections all play a part in those equations. What annoys people in Liberace’s case is that within his relationship there was no dissimulation, no wedding cake, no adopted Asian baby. He wasn’t obsessed with Victorian/Bourgeois notions of an imaginary form of romantic love that bears no resemblance to real life.

I agreed with you that all relationships are negotiations. I just felt that the term “user” has negative connotations.

As for disliking Liberace for who he was, it’s close minded, single minded, and selfish. He hurt no one. I don’t want gay people to act in any way, except what they feel is comfortable. I expect the same for me. I don’t conform and I don’t hurt anyone. I want people to be who they are. That’s what makes life beautiful and interesting.

I like when I get to hear the good and the ugly side of people’s lives from social media. Life is full and needs both. The ones who post only the “boring, everything is a party” updates don’t get too much attention from me.

Sorry, not adult children. I’m coming from a place where adults abused children, where children’s needs were not met. Im not talking about offspring who are living off their parents hard earned money while loafing at 23 in their parents’ homes and doing nothing.

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