Weekend Update (Friday Edition): Ah men


Hurray and Hallelujah! After the first installment of Lewis: Season 2, Kathleen asked for a second. So we watched that, and now it is all hours, and I can no longer remember what happened today.

Lewis, as I shouldn’t have to tell you, is the successor to Morse. Everything about the original series has been turned upside down (or at least brought up to date). Now, instead of working for a nob, Lewis has one working for him, in the person of Hathaway (Laurence Fox). The ghastly boss is a woman now, and she’s just as impossible although not quite so horribly hostile as she was in the pilot. The show leaves me trying to figure out how to go to Oxford in a non-touristic manner, such that I might be taken seriously there as a wit and a scholar, or at least as a literate American, and not as a tourist. I don’t work too hard at it, because my attempt to do the same thing on the Internet has yet to bear fruit.


At some point in the afternoon, Kathleen’s secretary told me how much she had loved The Hangover. I have learned that we have very different opinions about movies, and I was hesitant about recommending The Proposal, because, frankly, I don’t want to hear how somebody hated it. But perhaps it will help us settle into being one another’s Manohla Dargis: “If he likes it, I’m not even going to think about seeing it.” As soon as I got home from seeing The Hangover, I wrote a series of notes about the film. A move that made a lot of sense, you’ll say. But in fact I did it so that I could preserve my snarkiness about the movie at its ultramost. I couldn’t wait for it to end, I didn’t dislike it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


At seven o’clock I saw that (a) I had done all the writing that could even unreasonably be expected of me and (b) I had no photographs in stock for next week’s Daily Office. So I took the tripod and the Coolpix down to Carl Schurz Park. I did not collapse the tripod beforehand but carried it fully extended —  pitifully short. I want a tripod that will see what I see, all six foot three of me. 

The Park was heaven. I couldn’t believe how pleasant it was to stand on the edge of the East River in the wake of a violent thunderstorm, snapping pictures without having to worry that they’d be blurry. I felt so free! An hour between writing and cooking — all mine. I was stoned without being stoned. Marijuana would have gotten in the way; it would also have been superfluous.


I have noticed, over the past couple of  years, an interesting gay trope: “He’s so attractive [on whatever level] that you either want to fuck him or to be him.” I have given a lot of thought to the “being him” option. I used to think that that’s how I felt about men I really admired: I wanted to take their place; I wanted, vulgo, to be “them.” In fact, however, the only time that I have ever wanted to be anybody else was when The Avengers was a new show, and I was in my early teens: surely there was hope that I might blossom into the kind of guy that Diana Rigg would like to hang out with.

Since then, I have certainly admired a lot of men in a covetous way. Watching Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal, I want to kick myself. It was never in the cards that I would be as generally appealing as Mr Reynolds, but appealing more particularly to people who knew me was never a problem. The problem was that I was not interested in being an appealing person, and that is what I should like to go back and change. I don’t want to be Ryan Reynolds. I just wish that I had given him some competition, as I would have done had (a) he been my age (and now old and a wreck like me) and (b) my head had not been conducting a colonoscopy. I wish that I had understood how wonderful it is to have people like you. I did not understand this when I was a teenager. I didn’t think that anybody really liked anybody. That was a cruel mistake.


One of the Lewis episodes was really about the Stasi. It tempted you into thinking that it was about boxing at Oxford — or maybe it didn’t; the hour was very late. But it was definitely about snitching. My fundamental existential problem is that I wish that I could stage a show trial in which all of Bronxville (the village in which I grew up) would be revealed as ghastly and hypocritical, blah blah blah; my feelings haven’t changed since childhood. But the defendants in this trial, I know, would throw up their hands and ask what they’d done wrong, even now, even today. They’d say, “what’s he complaining about?” They’re still, in the persons of their children, living the same lives today. What was wrong? I was wrong.