Sometimes even I
wonder what we’re complaining about. Heterosexuals
tell us we’ve got it made. Or at least we used to. We
used to want no children, no military service, and no
need for commitment. Now we’re campaigning
noisily for all three. Straight people are shocked.
“Let them get married,” every comic from David
Letterman to Chris Rock to Joan Rivers has said, “Why
shouldn’t they be as miserable as we are?”
Once we were the outlaws, looking for love in all the
wrong places. Now we take over 3,000-passenger cruise
ships. Once we were designing for Pottery Barn Kids.
Now we’re shopping there.
Our interest in life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness hasn’t changed, but the pursuit
doesn’t look exactly the same as it used to.
Even body image has changed, not in fantasy (Fox and the WB
would go broke if it did), but in reality. Bears,
dads, ethnics, all are celebrated now, whereas just a
few years ago only clones needed apply. Yes, the
swimmer’s build will probably remain the conventional
ideal for some time to come, but at least everybody’s
in the pool.
And, once again, we are leagues ahead of the
straight people—or, as I have recently been
instructed to call them by a sociologist friend, the
heteronormatives. I don’t know that I love this word,
but it does reflect that they are still in the
majority and that this old spinning globe is still one
big breeders’ cup.
A quick flick of your remote will reveal that,
at least as far as straight men are concerned,
conventional beauty still rules. Jim Belushi, Ray
Romano, Kevin James, George Lopez, Mark Addy—all play
fairly schlubby sitcom dads with pretty hot wives.
Needless to say, none of these shows are written from
the wife’s point of view. It’s the world
according to Jim; it’s Raymond everybody loves.
Forget that with the notable exception of Sophia Loren
and Carlo Ponti, this sort of coupling doesn’t
happen very often unless there are huge amounts of
money involved (and Carlo made most of his money off Sophia,
so that doesn’t really count).
Over at the 300 CSI and Law &
Order shows (one departing every hour), we have
Mariska Hargitay, Marg Helgenberger, and Emily Procter
solving crimes in tight-fitting slacks and clinging shell
sweaters, a blazer thrown in if there’s a chill in
the air. I don’t imagine many real-life female
detectives rummage through their wardrobes to find
these items when they are sent out on a case, not with
the real-life chauvinists they have to work with constantly
checking them out. But would men watch these shows
otherwise? Picking apart a fake dead body holds just
so much interest.
A recent sultry
evening at a south Florida drive-in revealed even more.
First of all, drive-ins are not what they used to be. The
speakers plug into your car stereo and fill the space
with so much surround sound, you can spend hours
convinced there are other people hiding in the car with
you. Strolling around, it was hard to find any rhythmically
rocking cars like in the old days. Instead, enormous
families screamed at each other in Spanish while
passing around tubs of insect repellent.
The double feature that night was two movies
about dating: Hitch, in which Will Smith
coaches schlubby guys (most prominently Kevin James)
to win the hearts and minds of supermodels (in this case,
Amber Valletta), and The Wedding Date, in which
Debra Messing hires a male escort (who only escorts
women) to fly with her to London and convince her
family that, though publicly jilted by a previous boyfriend,
she has been able to land a prince of a guy, and in record time.
I yearned for these movies to be gay. I wanted
Will to tell me what it takes for a fat guy to nail
Marcus Schenkenberg (especially Marcus, since
he’s straight and used to date Pamela Anderson). I
wanted to bring home a hustler, just like Debra did,
and convince my family we were heading to Boston for a
big fat clambake gay wedding.
And they say gay people live in a world of
adolescent fantasy. Honey, straight people built that