Monday, August 14, 2006

Queen for a Day

Boston strikes me as great so far. Despite all of my stress about the dreaded Texas house, whose non-sold status crushes the life out of me, I am delighted by my new surroundings.

Jason invited me out to dinner with his partner and some of his friends (more on this in a moment). They all were great! Needless to say, the evening suggested that life in Boston is light-years ahead of life in Texas. That’s not a statement of surprise. Rather, it is one of confirmation.

Primarily, of course, the Greater Boston Area has the advantage of not being Texas. Don’t underestimate this as a selling point. Trust me.

Moreover, people have been extremely friendly here. Yeah, I know, that doesn’t jive with the Boston reputation. Based on my short experience, however, I have found people (even total strangers) more than willing to help out a new person to the city.

Sure, they express an astounding gruffness in the first minute and half of conversation. Once you get beyond that time period, though, they become as sweet as possible. Well, except the T employees. They seem genuine in their unhelpfulness.

This stands in direct contrast to Texas. My experience there showed people to put on a fa├žade of friendliness in the first couple of minutes of conversation. Once you cut deep into the icing, though, you realized that nasty Texas cake had nothing but poison for anybody not white, straight, married, evangelical-Christian, with children.

Other differences exist as well. For the most part, people actually like living in Boston. Many eagerly tell me about their favorite elements of the city. They also want confirmation of their suspicions that Boston stands as the greatest city in the U.S. (and their particular neighborhood stands out even more).

When I first moved to Eastern Texas, in contrast, again and again I heard, “Well, the great thing about being an academic here is that you can leave during the summers and winter holiday.”

How unhealthy to live in place where you are constantly waiting for the instant that you can get away! This type of existence, it seems to me, just puts your life in a constant day-dreaming status and never lets you build anything real. Everything that surrounds you in the day-to-day becomes “never good enough.” Everything outside of Texas becomes a fantasy without any real substance or longevity.

All that aside, you came here for gravitas. So, I won’t bore you with my giddy honeymoon over my new locale. Instead, I will demonstrate that I can be just as judgmental of my Bostonian neighbors as my former Texan neighbors.

So, let’s go back to the night out. During the course of the evening, we stopped at a bar that showed signs of having just recently lost its cool edge. What markers gave away its lost cool status? None more than the clientele.

Before I start, let me qualify by saying that I hardly consider myself a hip cat. On the contrary, I am perpetually-out-of-the-loop. Had I been around during 54's heyday, I probably would have been oblivious to all the fuss.

I can, however, at least sense cool's presence or absence much like a Republican Senator knows porn when he sees it (over and over again). Consider it sort of like a residual spidey sense (Yes, I know making that reference lowers my own cool factor -- Eh).

Annnnyway, so this particular bar had the cool fixtures, the swift bartenders, and the astoundingly beautiful doorman. What it also had, though, was no less than three (3) parties for soon-to-be-married giggling women. All three had the lady-of-the hour wearing a rhinestone tiara.

Yes, we saw three separate, unrelated tiaras for three separate groups of women. One, by the way, also had a feather boa. These three groups whirled around each other, but never quite made eye-contact. That, after all, might spoil the alleged moment of uniqueness reserved for the bride(s).

As I watched yet another one of the party crew walk away shocked (SHOCKED!) that the bartender could not make them a Red Bull © and vodka, I couldn’t help but think some grim thoughts about these folk. It wasn’t just that I think tiaras should be reserved exclusively for women named Diana or Drag Queens (which I do). Rather, the brides' “pretty, pretty princess” mentality suggests a great many problems with our society’s vision of marriage.

Before we go down this road, I always like to give fair warning. My own dismal marriage might cloud my point of view. To be fair, though, I have always had a suspicion of marriage. Ironically (and it is technically ironic), I didn’t even want to get married to liar ex (who told many lies). He told me, though, of his unwavering certainty that I was “the one;” brushed aside my concerns; and handed me an ultimatum to marry or breakup. I relented. After that, he constantly (literaly almost daily (and I mean literally)) told me that I would never find anybody as good as him.

Now I realize that I could easily find another mediocre individual like liar ex (who told many lies). I would rather not, though. Guys like him are a dime-a-dozen. You can buy them anywhere.

He had such an inflated sense of himself. Of course, we all know that I was the most interesting thing about him.

Please take all that bitterness into account whenever GayProf starts a discussion about marriage. I am probably as optimistic about marriage as Al Gore is about the validity of the electoral college.

Still, in all the yackking about gay marriage, our society refuses to even consider the institution’s severe problems for hets (and now homos). Romantic promises of happily ever after obscure some pretty reasonable thinking. Instead, like the tiara women, we all fall at some point for the notion that marriage must be the logical next step in life’s progression. Many never think one moment beyond the actual wedding day.

Why should they? On that day, society promises, they get to reign supreme. With or without the tiaras, we are all bow down to the bride. Some folk spend Puerto Rico’s annual budget on that single day. Plus, the happy couple walks away with a king’s ransom in Calphalon cookware and Oster blenders.

The groom just happens to be a needed accessory to get the whole ball rolling. No wonder tiara-women all happened to be out with their giggling best woman pals. They probably like them better than their actual fiancees.

We treat the wedding day as if an end point. On numerous instances, I have heard friends (both hetero and homo, both men and women) declare that the “time had come” in their life to be married. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t had a LTR for years. Like a project, they went out and hunted up some person to drag down the aisle. They all found themselves married, or at least engaged, within a year. After all, they felt they "should" be married.

Then the story always turns the same. Suddenly, six months into the marriage, they think to themselves, “How the fuck did I end up with this person that I hardly know?” Their next thought usually becomes, “I wonder if we will have to return all that Calphalon if I call this thing quits.”


Roger Owen Green said...

My problem with weddings, as opposed to marriage, is that people seem to obsess with the first to the exclusion that it is supposed to lead to the second. I happen to be pro-marriage, for those who find the right person, but weddings give me the hives.

And while there is a point in a relationship where getting married, or breaking up, is the logical next step, if ya don't feel it, ya don''t do it, as you've undoubtedly learned.
The greatest relationship advice I know comes from the movie Annie Hall, when Alvy Singer says: "A relationship is like a shark; it has to move forward, or it dies. What we have here is a dead shark."

Rick Bettencourt said...

Welcome to Boston...I'm just north of the city found your Blog by way of Larry's Love Lemming. I'm going to have to come back and peruse some more. You sound very interesting.

Bandit Talks

tornwordo said...

So many brilliant observations in this piece. My favorite is the contrast between conversations in Boston and Texas.

Oh, and mocking the tiara girls- priceless.

Margaret said...

When I first moved to Eastern Texas, in contrast, again and again I heard, “Well, the great thing about being an academic here is that you can leave during the summers and winter holiday.”

A-men, brother GayProf. This is what I hate most about where I now live: the fact that OTHER people (who live here) seem to hate it so much. It's so depressing to be around that all the time, and takes so much psychic eneregy to resist.

I love Boston. I miss Boston. I am absurdly, absurdly jealous of you right now. You're lucky you're a nice person; otherwise I might start to hate you in all my envy.

Oh, dude, my word veri is "poopd"! Makes my day.

Laura Elizabeth said...

"Sure, they express an astounding gruffness in the first minute and half of conversation."

Oh for the love of all that's holy... are you insane?! You are not allowed to tell non-New Englanders this! You'll be lucky if someone doesn't ship you back to Texas, in a cat carrier, for this!

You managed to redeem yourself, somewhat, with your brilliant discussion about weddings in modern society. And I'm not saying it's brilliant just because you agree with me. I'm saying this because it's true.

What is with this tiara trend, anyway? I haven't seen this myself, but seriously, What The Fuck? If I spot some woman doing this I'm going to wet myself laughing at her.

Anonymous said...

Very good points on marriage! My own pet peeve is the people who go on to think, "Well, now it must be time to make babies," putting no more thought into that than that! Seriously, people do more research before buying a new car.

pacalaga said...

Interesting, your take on Texas. It has been my experience with the members of my family (none of whom are evangelical Christian, to my knowledge) that once Texas sucks you in, you're a Texan for life. (It calls to mind that old skit, "We loved it. It was better than Cats." ad nauseum)
I think the whole point of the tiara is to embarrass the bride in a good-natured way. I did not go the tiara route (not enough Tequila in all of Arizona). I also did not go the route that you describe, spending gazillions on one stupid day where I got to be The Princess. (Actually, by that time I was so over the whole thing, the only thing I cared about was whether the beer and the groom showed, in that order. Cuz I had the beer first.)

Dorian said...

I have an almost pathological loathing of weddings. From brides and grooms (mostly brides) behaving badly and the sheer inconvenience of the amount of time they take up, mixed with the tendency for people who love weddings to ride you if you have the nerve to express anything less than unbridled enthusiasm at the prospect of eating bad chicken at a table with drunken strangers, I've never enjoyed myself at a wedding.

So, I hate them, and of course Pete wants a huge one someday.

ChristopherM said...

I have to admit that once you made the Loretta Lynn reference, I was going to agree with virtually anything you had to say today.

Anonymous said...

You cover so many bases here, and yet all I keep wondering was: what was the crappy but once hot spot you went to?

(signed, Center-of-Shallowness)

Larry said...

I think that marriage is simply a societal right of passage in America, and that the institution is hurting the country more than helping it.

GayProf said...

Christopher: You are only the second person to notice and/or comment on the song lyrics in a Center of Gravitas post (There are many hidden in different entries).

Good show!

Anonymous said...

"He had such an inflated sense of himself. Of course, we all know that I was the most interesting thing about him."

Yes, we do all know that!

"We treat the wedding day as if an end point."

That's it in a nutshell! As even Diana (a pretty, pretty Princess in a real tiara) came to know, even the most lavish of over-wrought ceremonies don't prevent the palace from tarnishing when the 'happily-ever-after' has very little to do with the real heart of the people involved.


Anonymous said...

I was at the "gay bar" (quotations intentional) this weekend and counted, like you, at least 3 different bridal parties, looking just as you described. One of them told me for a dollar I could eat the life saver off of her shirt. I said "You do realize this is, or at least used to be, a gay bar, right?"

Seeker Onos said...

That picture of the bar looks vaguely familiar... I was in Boston around 2001~2002ish for a short visit and had stopped by this bar/danceclub thingie that had either ice or dry ice as the bar top, which was backlit somehow.

I wonder if that is the same place as the subject matter in your pic?

As for the marriages... I think the biggest problem is that folks (generally speaking) are much to quick to rush into the venture (especially women who are "watching the clock" as well as thier friends.

In short, marriage has become for many... just another commodity of status.

brett said...

looks like the p.f. chang's in boston to me.

and as commodofied as they are, i still love a good wedding.

kate.d. said...

they felt they "should" be married.

yes, thank you. this scares me, specifically because i seem to have been absent that day in Girl Class, and i don't really understand this mentality. this is not to say that i won't ever get married, but i'm certainly not trying to drag my boyfriend there!

Elizabeth McClung said...

Hey, I get 1 out of 5 on the Texas checklist - does this give me warm welcome in Texas country?

Have to say you caught me on a bad day as I like weddings - well not straight weddings, which are part of assembly lines of straight life where everyone works so hard to keep "normal" on the page - and often people are thrust into marriage by society, by parents, by expectations rather than by actually wanting to be together, whether it comes to an unexpected crash 6 months later or not.

Rick Andreoli said...

You'll find your Steve Trevor. I have no doubt.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Boston! I hope the coming year proves valuable emotionally and spiritually as well as professionally. Cheers!

r said...

I totally get you about the Boston "gruffness."

In California, a person acts as if you're his or her new bestest friend, but looks over your shoulder to see if there's someone more interesting /powerful/beautiful to give attention to.

I would move to Boston if it didn't get so damn friggin' cold in the winter!

Anonymous said...

"He constantly told me that I would never find anybody as good as him." Uh, that should have been a major, red flag. Alas, love is blind.

Falling in love is a chemically-induced ecstasy, and while it feels wonderful, it is a biological trick. The euphoric stage of love lasts about as long as it takes heteros to pop out some kids.

Kate said...

I got married almost a year ago. I share your concerns. What I think is fantastic about marriage is that you make (or I suppose, intend to make) a permanent commitment to another person, that you will make an effort to think well not only about yourself but about this other person. Done right, that's a great commitment to make.

But you don't have to get married to make that. Lots of best friends make this commitment, even if it remains unspoken; plenty of romantic relationships make this commitment.

I'm ultimately thrilled I got married and anticipate being so, to this same guy, for as long as I live. But I do think he and I think well and communicate well and have worked hard to keep society's idea of what a marriage should look like out of our own daily decision-making. We were also together for five and a half years before we got married (engaged for two of those years).

Anonymous said...

Wearing a tiara is fantasy role-play. Since when is that a bad thing?

Do you folks think that one cannot take marriage, love and commitment seriously and still thoroughly enjoy dancing around in a tiara with your friends?

My goodness.

Hanging out with friends without your s/o, is encouraged during engagement and even after you're married. I surprised you disagree...