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7/23/06
Where's your Lover? (Mouse Over)

Dear Kim,

Today, I am thinking about gossip.

Or maybe, sincerity.

Or maybe both.

Pseudonym called to say she had been to a concert recently at the Hartford Cafe where she saw a number of friends. She said people asked where I was and how we were.

Just her retelling made me bristle. It would not occur to me to ask where someone's partner was if I did not see them out. That seems to be an invasion of privacy as well as the assumption that they should be there, Just because the other person is.

(Kim: Linda doesn't like to go to art openings and will only do so rarely. Lots of times someone will ask, "where's Linda?" I used to make up a story like "she's got stuck in the garden" but now I just say "she doesn't like openings."

I have been thinking about two questions that are pretty powerful when the person asking the question listens. One thing I like about you is that you do listen. . . . and that you've asked both of these questions: "what do you want" and "how are you." Both great questions when people are doing their best to be authentic.)

I have such a problem with the couple thing. And the way that if you are not vigilant, it is so easy and automatic for people—especially women—to be stripped of autonomy.

(Kim: I have felt like the husband sometimes. Like when I walk into Linda's class.)

If I didn't see someone with their partner or lover some place, I might ask how the absent person is. Which seems to me to be an entirely different kind of question. And which lends itself to more possibilities, including the option of telling where they are without implying judgment.

I told some of this to my friend, Dawn, on the phone the other day and her response was brilliant. She laughed and said, "Can you imagine going up to one part of a heterosexual couple and saying, 'So, how is your relationship going?'"

(Kim: You are right. No one has asked about our relationship.)

I love Dawn.

Ah, the joys of living in a subculture.

This kind of emotional claustrophobia is one reason I have resisted a singular sexual identity for years. For me, identity is more than erotic desire, it is also about the social. And I have always wanted to live in the wider world.

Later,

Joan

Saturday, Feb 4, 2006

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