The first short story I ever submitted – long, long ago, when there were still lots of magazines in which short fiction was published – was returned to me with a sticky-note across which was snarkily scrawled: “The writing is fine but the story is ridiculous. Too many fantastic coincidences of symbolism. The metaphors are far too obvious.”
Thing is, the story was a nearly verbatim recounting of a few hours in my life as lifted from my journal.
In that vein, last night I planned to hide out in my batcave. I wanted to watch the season finale of “The Walking Dead” after which I meant to read.
Then, life happened. Watched “Dead” and even though I knew what was coming I was gob-smacked by the dark, dystopian hopelessness. There was a group of people, a gerrymandered family upon whom had been visited so much loss, so much confusion of reality that the parameters of what constitutes moral behavior, what passes for love, these boundaries, these not-to-be-crossed lines have been exploded and violated again and again until there is nothing certain left for any of them. Who and what they may be and how long they have to be that is so uncertain, their experience has left them teetering on the precipice of total dissolve in every moment.
Okay. Let it go. Read your book, Charlie. Well, before I could, came a Facebook message from a friend. A conversation began. About “Carrie” – the film and the musical and the Betty Buckley connection. And as that went on, came a text message which resulted in an extended exchange about indulging in worthless, time-wasting pursuits and being rejected.
During said conversations, with those built-in, virtual-reality pauses for transmission, rather than turning off the television, I flipped and came upon the film “Y Tu Mama Tambien.”
I was, not for the first time, transfixed. The film centers around Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna as best friends whose repressed homoerotic longings for one another are requited in an unhappy, unfulfilling and ultimately dishonest, drunken debauch, after which they hurtle fearfully apart, losing the love (literally and metaphorically) that served to bind them, thus both sacrificing parts of themselves.
As I watched, the text exchange centered on our mutual gifts for rejection and a competition about who was less-loved resulting in in the depressing conclusion that we both suffered spiritual/soul hard-ons for impossible people who loved us but could never/would never really have the fortitude to want us. Too, that perhaps we used those spiritual hard-ons to avoid real love, real life, real connection and that we wasted far too much time wishing for fast-forwards to imagined (and unlikely) happy ends and thus, missing the moments we might enjoy in the now.
And as I’m texting, and “Y Tu” is ending, I realized, “Shit, ‘Y Tu’ is uhm . . . a little too much like my life. No wonder I sort of hate this even as I love it.”
Texting continued. FB messaging continued. Another friend texted. Three ongoing virtual conversations and “Y Tu” ends and I flip and there is “Sunset Boulevard.”
I know I should turn it off. I know I should find re-runs of something that won’t ring any of my bells or rattle any more resonances for me. But, again, I am hypnotized.
As I lose myself in the lunatic longings of delusional, faded diva Norma Desmond, I am stunned that one of my conversers (I really think that ought to be “conversant” – but that is not an accepted noun usage) has not only never seen the film, but never heard of it, although they are familiar with the “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille” image because I have posted it so often on my various social media platforms.
Never seen “Sunset” not heard of Norma Desmond? And, yet, we are friends? Who love one another? I start explaining the plot. I talk about Norma’s desperate need to be loved and affirmed, her hunger for adoration, the way her sorrow seduces Joe, the decision he makes to accede to her need, the love he pretends – all the while deluding himself that she understands he doesn’t really love her, deludes himself that she understands he is calculatedly using her, deludes himself that he plays no role in her delusion, until, finally, he hates himself and his acceptance of her gifts of vicuna coats and lifestyle, his borrowing of her persona to shine his own, hates himself so much for this deceit, for how he has used her, that he projects his vile-moral dissolve and guilt onto her, turns her into the villain and destroys her with his self-hatred, driving her to homicide.
And as I’m texting, and “Sunset” is ending, I realized, “Shit, this is uhm . . . a little too much like my life. No wonder I sort of hate this even as I love it.”
It’s late. The conversations have all faded by the time Joe ends up, face-down, in the pool and Norma is doing her staircase descent into final, total madness. I know I should go to sleep. Or read. Or do anything but flip the channel and alight upon “Brokeback Mountain.”
The last thing I need is to – once again – become enmeshed in the tragedy of Ennis and Jack. The. Last. Thing. Yet, I watch. I watch as Ennis cannot commit to who he is or how he feels. Watch as he doubles over in pain, dissolves to weeping, and grasps onto the bloodied shirt of the now beaten to death, murdered love of his life. Watch as love and two men are destroyed by a world in which they cannot find safety or solace. Watch as two loving men clutch at tiny straws of hope and happiness, surrender to a bewilderingly tortured compromise of self and soul, and never find a context or home in which their connection can thrive and grow.
And I say to myself yet again, “Shit, that’s uhm . . . a little too much like my life. No wonder I sort of hate this even as I love it.”
Yes. About last night. Even as I write this I realize how ridiculous is this blog entry. Too many fantastic coincidences of symbolism. The metaphors are far too obvious. Guess I shouldn’t turn this into a short-story about a man in his batcave, watching his life played out again and again in the things he comes across on television as he maintains virtual friendship via social media.
So, I won’t.