Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Rare Moment of Sentimentality


Normally I dig around British websites every weekend for odd, lesbian-related tidbits to lazily exploit here; you might recall this one about Subarus, or the one about bisexuality being "reserved for 15-year-old goths and Abi Titmuss, you stupid lesbian," or the field day I recently had with a lesbian sex diary that included strange mentions of sex toys and squirrels.

Tonight I come to you with nothing about lesbians. Honestly, I get lesbian fatigue sometimes. Anytime I'm around more than three lesbians who are under the age of 30 for longer than five minutes and it becomes apparent they all have histories with each other, I start rubbing my right temple in misery and despondently think to myself, "I could be watching Turner Classic Movies right now..."

People fatigue in general is a problem for me. I know, I know, you would never have guessed from the things I write here (my sunny disposition is kind of my trademark), but I get annoyed very easily. And then I get angry. And then I get angry that I'm angry. On the outside, I try not to let it show. Operating under the assumption that people already think I'm strange enough as it is (because I'll admit it: I'm pretty strange), I try to keep my twitching and ticcing to a minimum. But on the inside, once that fatigue sets in, I'm like Ron Burgundy having a breakdown in a phone booth after his dog is punted off a bridge; it's all I can do to keep from wailing "I'm in a glass case of emotion!"

If garden-variety people fatigue drives me nuts, lesbian fatigue is even worse. There's something more insidious about it; it makes me think I'll never meet anyone I can stand to be around, much less get married to (once American voters decide gays are created equal after all, and therefore permitted to marry and divorce with the same abandon as heterosexuals, that is), and that's depressing.

It's depressing because I like the idea of getting married enough that, even as I chuckle at the meanness of the Nellie McKay song "I Wanna Get Married," I understand the kooky conviction of its narrator as she serenely concludes "I will never tarry/ I'm not even torn," about wanting to walk down the aisle. It's also depressing because if I never get married I'll spend a good portion of the remaining years of my life being asked by nosy relatives why I'm not married, or when I plan on getting married. That would really send my people fatigue into overdrive.

And that, in a kind of convoluted way, brings us to what I did find in a British newspaper this weekend (besides a look back at fifty years of Motown) -- a fantastic, marriage-oriented article about Barack and Michelle Obama in The Guardian, in which Gaby Wood writes: "Together, they present the most collaborative, romantic, intelligent and relaxed couple that has ever been anywhere near the White House."

It's hard to disagree with that. The Obamas always look so in sync with each other, so happy to be in each others company, that I love seeing them together. (Wood describes them as having "the devotion of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and the glamour of the Kennedys.") When the Obama campaign put behind the scenes footage from this year's Democratic National Convention on YouTube that showed Barack sitting on a couch in Kansas City, Missouri, touching his wedding ring as he watched Michelle deliver her speech on TV, I got a little teary-eyed. It was then that, with some surprise, I realized the Obamas had sort of become my Brangelina, and I wanted them to adopt everyone in America and change all our names to Pax.

After each of the three presidential debates, the candidates were joined on stage by their wives. When the Obamas looked at each other, you could sense they were having a silent conversation with their eyes. (Which is a good thing, because it'd be really creepy if their eyes could talk...) Whatever it was that Barack Obama had just accomplished in those debates, it was clearly something he had done with a great deal of help from Michelle -- and they both looked very proud of it. Then you'd catch a few seconds of the McCains together and they seemed less like husband and wife than unhappy partners in a failed business venture. You couldn't picture them going home and cranking up the Marvin Gaye; it was easier to imagine them driving back to the hotel in tense silence, with Cindy afraid to say anything that might make John erupt in anger and call her a 'see you next Tuesday' again.

Or, as Wood writes of the Obamas:
When we hear that he insisted, in the middle of his presidential campaign, on coming home to take her out to dinner on their wedding anniversary, it seems crazy yet appropriate, just as it's unsurprising to know that Cindy McCain's parents buy her birthday presents and sign them from John McCain because he's usually too busy to remember.
We didn't just vote for the right president on Tuesday, we voted for the right first family. And that has me "aw"-ing so much, you'd think I was an expectant mother looking at an Anne Geddes calendar. It's so weird to feel sentimental about something besides Roger Federer winning a Grand Slam final that I don't really know what to do with myself.

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