Despite the fact that some people have accused me of being a hopeless romantic, one of my favorite fictional characters of all time is Mrs. White as portrayed by Madeline Kahn in the 1985’s Clue the Movie. Mrs White is a multiply-widowed woman who is assumed to have murdered several of her husbands. And those aren’t the only relationships she seems to have carried out in less than exemplary fashion. At one point in the movie she is asked how many husbands she has had, and immediately rejoins, “Mine or other women’s?” Afterward, she admits to five of her own, and then observes, “Just the five. Husbands should be like Kleenex: soft, strong and disposable.” And in more than one way she’s right. At least, what I mean is, when you realize that a relationship has reached its end, you should feel no guilt moving on, so long as you’re both able to be civil and neither of you behave abominably or do anything unethical to the other.
The truth is that the course of love and romance seldom runs true, as the old saying tells us. Mostly people misunderstand that saying, however. A lot of people operate under the mistaken notion that a relationship ending is the same thing as a relationship failing. Which is crazy. Living in a relationship is a whole series of tasks requiring multiple skills. And the only way to learn how to do a skill well is to try, fail, and try again.
Depending on your viewpoint, I can think of many reasons one could argue I’m a terrible spokesperson for Valentine’s Day or the topic of romance. I’m an out queer man, and there are a lot of people (including the man currently sitting in the office of Vice President of the U.S. not to mention a number of my relatives) who would insist that I don’t understand love because queers can’t love. A related group of people would say that because my first marriage ended in divorce (ignoring the whole orientation thing), that means I obviously suck at relationships. Others might quote Mrs. White from Clue and argue that “Life after death is as improbable as sex after marriage!” and therefore since I and my husband have been together for 20 years now that I have long forgotten what real romance is. And so on.
I feel compelled to point out that in college I was active in Debate and Speech competitions and in 1980 I won a number of awards in the After Dinner Speaking category, including eventually winning the Western Region Championship (beating out every other competitor west of the Mississippi) with a speech entitled, “How To Pick Up Girls.” So, this queer guy may know a thing or two about romance?
Of course, there is that divorce. But it may not mean what you think. You may be surprised to learn that some years after my divorce from Julie, that she asked me to be the Maid of Honor at her second wedding. Just as you may be surprised that we remain friends to this day. There are many reasons for that, not least being that Julie is an incredibly warm, loving person who is able to empathize with others and truly see things from multiple perspectives. I consider myself lucky to know her, and remain endlessly grateful that once we realized that I wasn’t bisexual we were able to stick the dismount.
Now, before she married her second husband (who is an awesome man who is perfect for her in thousands of ways that I was not), she had another relationship. This one with a man that, well, as soon as I met him I realized that he was NOT in her league intellectually and otherwise. But I was the ex-husband, and the queer ex-husband, at that, so at the time my opinion belonged tightly clamped behind my lips. But when that relationship fell apart, as a good friend, I was ready to offer sympathy, support, and to openly hate the ex (which was really easy because he was an idiot who didn’t deserve her).
So one evening she, I, and a bunch of our friends from the (now defunct) Seattle Lesbian & Gay Chorus, were standing around smoking (yes, I used to smoke, it has been 23 years since I quit, if you’re curious), and offering our condolences and so forth. She told a story of a particularly douche-y thing that he did to her during the break up, flaunting one of the women he had been cheating with. We all expressed our low opinion of him, and she equivocated, thinking maybe we were being too hard on him. I jumped in to say, “All men are pigs!”
One of the other friends, an extremely butch bisexual woman, laughed and said, “Oh, honey! He knows! Listen to him!” Several others chimed in all agreeing that I was right, all men are pigs.
And I was sincere. I’m a man who has dated a lot of men, and I can testify to the universal truth that men are pigs. As Mrs. White observed. “Flies are where men are most vulnerable.” She’s right. Sometimes we’re ruled by the wrong head. And when we let that head get us into trouble, we seldom manage to get out of such situations without hurting some of the people around us.
All men are pigs. Really and truly. It’s something I’ve known for many years.
I’m addicted to pork. And I ain’t the only one!
Because some years ago a humorous post misled at least one of our friends to think that my husband and I was breaking up, I feel compelled to add this clarification: I love my husband with all my heart and we are still happy and together and I continue to remain astonished that he stays with me, because I don’t deserve him.