Saturday, April 10, 2004

The Edible Gay Man

Today I conquered THE WALL.

No, I don't climb. I'm not so fortunately genetically endowed. No, I don't run. I didn't break through the marathoner's pain barrier, and I can scarcely run 2 miles anyhow.

THE WALL is my kitchen wall, in a kitchen that has been a construction site for nigh on three years.

Margaret Attwood wrote an acclaimed feminist novel, The Edible Woman, in the 1960's. (I have read it once only, in 1981). The main character is a young single woman working in a menial office job in Toronto, such as women were limited in doing back then. The scene is impossible to imagine in today's world where often men report to women bosses. If you had the pleasure of seeing the remnants of the Scottish Presbyterian culture that still existed in Toronto in the Seventies, this book was a horrifying journey.

In this book, the main character finds her horizons, in a world designed for men, to be so suffocating that she enters an alternate state of mind. She stops doing her washing up, and leaves her kitchen sink. For months the kitchen sink builds up, while she subsists in this alternate world and sees the things in her society that are swallowing her up. She finally makes it through the nightmare, and one day she returns to the kitchen sink, and does her washing up.

So too, THE WALL has been my kitchen sink. This is the wall which broke me. After hacking off all the unstable plaster to install electrical wiring for appliances, I for the second time in my life had to do some plastering. With all the testosterone-formed bullishness of youth, I attacked it but moderated my impatience with slow careful attention, in order to achieve a fine finish. Despite all my cleverness and ambition, the plaster slumped slightly, and it was the final straw of failure.

Of what failure, you might ask? The failure to see any future in the gay world that I could find about me in London, let alone the one I had chosen to live in for the previous 8 years. There has been no intelligent design of life for a gay man of a certain age, ever. The AIDS epidemic intruded too horribly in gay culture, for gay men to be able to concern themselves with survival beyond the short term.

I was the Edible Gay Man, consumed finally by the limited lifestyle options that gay culture had to offer men over that certain age. Today, after two years of working my way back to THE WALL, I finally painted and made it good. I might not have ever conquered it, and I don't believe in celebrating lest I forgot what went into that wall. But it looks damn good.

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