The G-spot is coming a little early this week (heh) in order to be part of the theme issue. The photo challenge will appear Friday. There isn't a lot of physically raw information here but emotionally some of it may be triggering. Proceed with that in mind.
There's this great movie from 2003, Normal. Tom Wilkinson plays Roy Applewood, a mild mannered midwestern guy and Jessica Lange is his wife of many years. They have teenaged kids and a nice, comfortable suburban life. Until, of course, Applewood admits to himself and eventually to his family, friends and neighbors that there's something he hasn't yet dared tell. He's a woman and he needs to change his body to match his identity.
I've been thinking about Normal because I've been thinking about how little we know each other. It's especially prevalent on the internet because blogging has evolved into something that often celebrates brutal honesty while providing numerous opportunities to conceal truth. I recently read Heather Armstrong's book, It Sucked & Then I Cried. It took me a long while to get to it because I understood it would cover the period of Dooce's life that I had first read online. I suspected she'd add some new information but that mostly it would be familiar. She did and it was. There were two glaring omissions, from my biased point of view, two stories that, from my angle, were absolutely critical to understanding who Heather is. Right off the bat that's crazy because it presumes that I have any idea who she is just from reading her web site for a number of years. I've never met her, what makes me think I know her? Who am I to say that the bathtub poop story or the bra cabbage story are any more or less indicative of her true self than anything else. But, I read it, she told me who she is. Didn't she?
I blog now. I tell people who I am. Sometimes I'm pretty honest about it. On the other hand there are things that I leave out. In the same way that there are plenty of things I leave out when I talk to people or write them letters or post on Facebook or fill out a job application. Sure, posting that picture of me from when I was 25 with a migraine and a shitty perm and the glasses that ate Kentucky can seem like an act of soul baring but I'm 41 now. I have a life and a job and a dead dog on my bookshelf, that picture costs me nothing emotionally and people like it so out it goes as some twisted kind of currency. But it doesn't mean that everyone who reads me knows me. How could they? I still haven't told anyone what it was like lying on the floor next to my beloved pooch the day I arranged to put her out of her misery. Not by blog or in person or a letter or by smoke signal. And how could anyone know me if they don't know that?
Maybe the people who know me in real life and read my blog know most of me, though, enough of me, whatever that is. Misti, Chili, Chrome & Auntie have my cell number and can text me in the middle of the night if they need me. They live in different places so we don't see each other all the time but we're friends on terra firma so they must have some advantage. Except how many times do I write something and get an e-mail or a text from a good friend, "What's going on?!?!?" "Is that about so and so doing such and such?" "I didn't know you were doing that."
Which brings us back to Normal. How well can we ever know anyone, even someone with whom we've made babies (or at least practiced really, really hard)? For me, the most intricate part of this movie's writing is parsing Lange's character because she knew her husband, she loved him and they'd been together a long time. She wasn't going to have any more surprises, they were on the path to happily ever after and then she finds out that, the way her husband and best friend perceives it, she's never known his core being. It's not her fault. How could she have known if he'd carefully constructed a life that protected him from such a potentially dangerous revelation? And yet he'd led her to believe that she knew him. He'd encouraged her to open up and be her most vulnerable self with him with expectation of reciprocation and...he didn't.
Can we ever really know anyone?
We hear that question a lot. It comes up in relation to sexuality, to politics and, of course, to religion. Knowing that we still pair ourselves up, make friends, help neighbors, comment on blogs, love each other and lay bare our souls for other people to poke around in. Life is full of surprises and not all of them are good. I am continually surprised by people, especially on the internet. A commenter on my lark of a post regarding a sexual Olympics said she didn't understand it at all. Thank goodness for her, because, as silly as I know it was, I thought it was almost boring in its straightforwardness and yet it was so far out of her mindset she couldn't even fathom it. How would two people like us ever meet up in person? But here we are. She read it all the way through and took the time to comment about it too. It's miraculous, this deeply flawed medium. I derive great joy from reading the stories of lives that writers give me (and you and everyone else) and it's all non-fiction, it's all the truth...whatever that is. Isn't it?
How does this relate to the G-spot? In a lot of ways. Let's think a little bit about all the ways we could be surprised by a partner: The biggies include but are not limited to infidelity, infidelity with a side of STD, coming out as GLBTQ, announcing transsexuality, falling out of love, quitting a job. On a smaller level what if you were approached by your partner about a desire to explore bondage or swinging or a fetish of any kind (mother-baby play, furries, feet, lingerie, anything), or mutual masturbation or a new position or public sex acts?
Have you ever been confronted with something like this? Have you ever felt, for a moment, that you really didn't know the cherished person in front of you? How did you handle it? My challenges have been few in this regard and I've been fortunate that they've been very much in tune with the way I think. I took a chance one day and asked a boy about a pair of handcuffs. He didn't balk, he didn't re-evaluate his vision of me, he grabbed his debit card and found the nearest place to buy handcuffs. When I unbuttoned his jeans a few months later and discovered a cute pair of ladies' cotton undies it turned out to be more delight than shock. I wonder if he still wears those sometimes. What if he'd added a wig and heels? What if he'd wanted to try breath play, which scares me? What if he wanted to try long term celibacy, which also kind of scares me?
For the record I don't remember how Normal ends. I know it's difficult for Mrs. Applewood but I think she defends and supports her husband with everything she has. I could be wrong, though, I might just have blocked the disappointing part out.