Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Does that make me...?

So, I’m confused. I’m not quite straight on something and I think I may have always had a queer angle on it. It’s not my fault, as I think I was born this way. But this issue has always been something of a bugger for me, and I feel like I’ve closeted these feelings long enough. I’m just going to come out and say it: I don’t get March Madness.

I know it’s a big deal for college (?) basketball, and every business across the nation is using it like a holiday. RC Willey, and other fashionable outlets, are having collossal sales on TV’s and furniture that relates somehow, I’m sure, to basketball. Even the company I’m working for is running an obscenely low subscription price during the famously masculine season. I was invited to a creative brainstorm on the campaign yesterday, and I found myself with precious little to offer. Headlines naturally centered around basketball terms-- a lexicon so unfamiliar to me that I sat mute in the corner with my legs crossed, waiting out the clock. The only basketball terms I can remember were shouted at me by red-faced PE coaches and angry teammates: Stay out of the key! Get rid of it! Whatever you do, don’t shoot!

What does it mean that I’ve never watched an episode of Sports Center? Do they even call them episodes? How come I’d never heard of PTI before Tone mentioned it on this blog? Why didn’t I understand the first word that came out of Carlos Boozer’s mouth when he was apparently so eloquent about the Jazz’s chances for... a slot in the... victory over... valuable asset to the division semi-final Western Athletic Conference? What?

Ask me what I wore every day last week. I can tell you. And I can tell you which of those clothes needed and received laundering and if they were subsequently folded correctly or placed on the proper hanger in my closet. Ask me if I still sweat over the fact that I have more brown belts than black, and the black belts that I have are too formal for everyday wear. What if i want to wear black leather shoes with my jeans? I have to wear a sweater that will cover my waist all day, eliminating the possibility of exposing the overaggressive sheen of the leather there. Or I go without the belt all together, an equally embarrassing predicament to be caught in if the sweater comes up while I’m sitting down. Am I gay?

Ask me, when I’m wearing a printed top, if I will also wear a hat with print. The answer is no. No navy and black either.

And it’s not that I am obsessed with clothes. I don’t even have enough money to wear really nice clothes (although a boy can dream). But I find I can keep track of that stuff, and I can’t keep track of sports statistics. I wanted the Giants to win the Superbowl because I think they have the best logo in the NFL, but I didn’t stick around to see if they won. I don’t know who plays for the Jazz. I can’t tell you who Shaq plays for and when people bring up the Shaq-Kobe rivalry like it’s a thing of the past, I think, when did they part company? I can tell you that Jack Nicholson is a Lakers fan. I can tell you who starred in any number of sports movies over the last few decades, whether I saw them or not. I can tell you enough of Hollywood-related trivial facts to make your eyes roll. I can keep track of that stuff-- I‘m interested in that stuff. Does that make me gay?

I am still very happily and actively married to a woman that I have loved for almost 15 years now. I am still ravenously attracted to that woman, to her enduring relief/dismay (depending on the day) and, sometimes, to her fatigue. I have always liked girls. I maintain that in the first grade, my fondest and most ardent wish was that one day, all the girls would have to come to school naked. First grade. In kindergarten I used to find obscure and secreted surfaces whereon I could scribble the initials of the girl I liked. Many of them are still there as proof in my parents’ home-- under tables, on opposing bedposts, inside the bathroom cupboards-- you know, all the places a love-sick 5 year-old can reach.

I’m crazy about this new Goldfrapp album. If you’ve heard it you might think that’s another strike on the gay side. But how many points do I get for thinking that Alison Goldfrapp is gorgeous enough to stare at? I defy any straight man to give it a listen and not wish that she would sing you to sleep every night.

And it’s true that if I were offered tickets to a Jazz game or Rachmaninoff at the symphony, I’d take Rachmaninoff every time. Especially if Pavel Kogan is conducting because he seems to bring more out of the orchestra than Lockheart. But what about the passion it breeds in me for my wife? And let’s not forget that one of the reasons I’d choose the symphony is that I am more likely to get Jayne to come with me, and there is no one I like better than she. And settling into those seats in Abravanel Hall, regarding her in her Symphony Formals, taking her hand in the dark... there is no greater peace in the temporal world.

Is that gay?

So I’ve decided maybe I’m part gay. Just like I’m part Norwegian, from my mom’s side, and part Welsh, from my dad’s. I’m part gay, part straight, and part arson (don’t ask). Is that so bad? The idea of intimacy with another man is repulsive to the point of shivers. In fact, in a conversation with a gay friend, he asked if I could live with my best friends, and I said yes. He asked if i could make out with any of them (he named Tony, because he’d met him) and I wretched. Sorry, Tony. But the gay part of me will gladly go shopping and cluck her tongue at every bad piece of design she sees along the way.

So, if anyone is having any March Madness or Final Four parties, I’d love to come. I’m always game for comradery and male bonding (not that kind of male bonding, you filthy beasts). But don’t expect me to contribute to any debate about the merits of a given team or player. And you can’t coax it out of me with gay jokes. I’ve come to terms with my part-gayness. Maybe some of you should take a good long look as well, and embrace that inner queen. We might find that some of us that went into March as lions, may come out as lambs.


  1. My comment is not directly responsive to your post, but I am interested anyway. I read that the new Goldfrapp album was not good and that it was a waste of money. Hearing your review makes me wonder if I should give it a chance after all. Do you listen to Ladytron or Broadcast?

  2. i don't know a lot about ladytron or broadcast-- should i? i'm always interested in new music.

    i think your embrace or refusal of the new goldfrapp is determined by why you like or dislike what they have done in the past. i'm not in love with the other albums beyond a track or two. but something about this one speaks to me. it's like air's talkie walkie with better vocals and less ambient musings. it hearkens back to the late 70's when the keyboard turned into synthesizer and people started to build artificial soundscapes around otherwise folksy melodies.

    so you can see that if someone liked the fuzz of goldfrapp's past work, they might find this one boring and indulgent. but i can't stop listening to it.

  3. first grade? no wonder you're terrified of having sons!

    Your new skull shoes are SO masculine hon.

  4. This is interesting because your tackling the definition of what it means to be gay. Is being "gay" being sexually attracted to men or is it caring about minute details of fashion, looking nice and being well kept and being totally retarded to sports facts and figures. Truly a postmodern issue due to the slippery nature of the meaning of the word.

    Frankly, if we go psycho-analytical, I think the non-opinion of sports comes from... ta-da...PAPA WELLS! If theres one thing I know about your Dad, it's that he doesn't seem to give a hoot about sports. And the fact that you didn't have any video games in that house of yours probably didn't help.

    So you're no good at video games OR sports. That's okay. Frankly, dudes who would chide you for being "gay" because of these things are probably insecure in their own masculinity.

    As for being fashion aware, perhaps in the early 90's this would be considered "gay". Now it seems like a better term is savy. So again, any teasing likely coming from insecurity issues.

    And you play golf and played soccer. So you're not TOTALLY in the woods sports wise.

    So I wouldn't worry too much, although I would get those boys of yours into soccer, baseball, or heaven help us, even basketball, if for nothing else to prevent them from red faced PE teachers and taunting K-Jack's of the world.

  5. Check out Ladytron's album "Witching Hour" and Broadcast's "Tender Buttons." You won't be sorry.

  6. I'll go along with the supportive tone of Tone. Let's face it, we all know you well and most of us would agree that you are just as competitive in the things you care about as any sports fool. I think that's pretty darn masculine. The fashion stuff, etc. may just mean that both sides of your brain talk better than average--at least that's an explanation I've heard for why women tend to be more concerned about how stuff looks.

    Along the Gwarn thread, I remember my Dad saying that your pops could really get into watching a game, even if he didn't really follow the team or know much about the sport. (I'm not sure how he arrived at that conclusion, but I guess they've been friends for awhile and we don't really know the extent of their past interactions do we now?) That sounds a lot like you so ditto on Tony's comment.

    Alright, one more masculinity bonus point. When we were all getting dragged around in the snow behind Kirk's bumper who was the toughest? That's right. It still makes me laugh thinking how you wouldn't let go no matter what. At one point you lost hold of the bumper and in desperation grabbed onto the next available handhold--which happened to be Guido who you pulled off with you. Them's some bona fides right there.

  7. But wait a sec...I thought you were gay?

  8. I'm grateful to read this post, Jed. I've been thinking a lot about gayness lately because in the last month I've discovered that my two closest male friends growing up are both gay (thanks Facebook). These were also the two males in the world who, growing up, I felt like I really understood. It always gave me comfort to know that there were males like them in the world.
    So since learning of their gayness I--like you--have wondered, if a male doesn't scream masculinity, if he's creative, enthusiastic, or tender-hearted, does that mean he is gay? Thank you for the reminder that male heterosexuals come in many wonderful varieties.

  9. Tone-that last comment was directed at Jed, not me, right? Otherwise . . .

  10. Yes yes, of course it's to Jed...
    but wait...Rob's a nice guy, thoughtful, a scientist...perhaps you ARE gay!

  11. That first paragraph is pure genius.

    Also, I believe the term we're all looking for is "metrosexual". Now I'm going to go pretend I didn't just say "metrosexual".

  12. this is awesome, it's like free therapy.

    one thing is, my dad did play football at both dixie high and college. but it's true, he didn't follow sports while i was growing up with the exception of cougar ball. but he gets so worked up watching a game (must be what blair is referring to) that he won't watch anymore.

    and taliatha, i think it's more common than we realize that a man latches onto the idea that he is gay because he doesn't fit the mold prescribed for him. not that i have any real idea, but in some cases i think it's the easier answer. luckily, all the males i grew up with were so ugly, i could never be swayed to pursue intimacy with any of them.

  13. I have had five serious adult relationships three have ended because my boyfriend/fiance has decided he was/going back being gay, one just stopped calling, (so he could be gay and was unable to tell me) and the other relationship is to my husband. I can tell you out all 5 men, my husband is the most concerned with clothing and least knowledable about sports. Matt swears he has never been attracted to a man and I believe him. If you ever need a male to talk to about which hat with which shoes and belt, give him a call...

  14. Cathy, I'm shocked about all the gay men you've dated. Did they ever seem a bit too much like a best friend?
    Rob, Tony, Mat, et al - Jed just called you ugly, them's fighting words!
    As far as the are you "gay" in a gay sense or not, I'd say that your thespianism from all the way back when you starred in that BYU play as a young Jr. High or High School student (I don't remember the name, just that you were there) is far more gayomatic than any of the other traits.
    At the same time, I think a lot of male Utah Jazz fans are developing a man-crush on Kyle Korver, so it's not what you do, it's...well, I'll stop there.

  15. And to go along with what Jayne said, if your sons are like you were in elementary school, I'm terrified for my daughter! That's actually why I prefer sons, because if they get into trouble it's their fault. You hate when a younger version of you gets a younger version of your wife in trouble though.

  16. in my defense, that "thespianism" landed me some ladies in my day. amanda barton, anyone? she was a classy, selective bird (two years my senior, i might add), and i'm sure she wouldn't let stage paint and dim lights cloud her judgment beyond the recognition of a man too light in his loafers. mandy liked herself a rugged, aggressive, trashy man. and that was me in high school-- ask anyone.

  17. Jed thinking I'm non-attractive is actually, not very offensive. As much as my self esteem depends on what my male peers and friends think of my looks...

    The "thespianism" comment is much more annoying. Name the groups where the ratio of girls to boys is at least 3 to 1. Yep FHA and the Thespians. Make jokes if you will, but for my money the boys in those groups are the smart ones.

  18. I think the word "thespian" is unfortunately fraught with a fastidious,limp-wristed, gay-ish connotation. We need to come up with a more manly name for thespians, so people like Jed don't have to face this kind of discrimination. How's about "actor"? And, incidentally, does Tone's theory of girl-boy ratios apply to male cheerleaders? Or are they just really gay?

  19. It does apply to cheerleaders and FHA people as well as actors, and they did have a much higher women:men ratio than most other areas. It's more just the stereotypical Broadway stage actor syndrome (as well as steelworkers, aerospace, and railroads) combined with the fraught with homosexual connotations of the word thespian. Lest there be any doubt, as all of you went out more than I did in H.S. I have no doubt of your masculinity.