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Awkward Conversations

Awkward Conversations

Whenever Diana Cage tells someone she writes about sex, queer politics and lesbian relationships they suddenly want to show how progressive and cool they are by acting really engaged and adopting a faux nonchalance. Then they tell her how they totally accept her and, “You know, I think sex is cool and all and I have a lesbian friend and I really like her and she has sex sometimes...."

Yesterday I had the weirdest conversation with the guy behind the counter at my favorite coffee shop. I ordered a coffee and then he tells me he sees me in the café all the time, and wanted to know what I was working on, “because I saw you reading a book on feminism that looked awesome." OK, points for saying feminism was awesome, but he kept going and the line of customers behind me probably just wanted their lattes.

Whenever I tell someone I write about sex, queer politics and lesbian relationships they suddenly want to show how progressive and cool they are by acting really engaged and adopting a faux nonchalance. Then they tell me how they totally accept me and, “You know, I think sex is cool and all and I have a lesbian friend and I really like her and she has sex sometimes, I mean, you know, lesbians are really great, and you are a lesbian and I think that’s cool that you probably have sex and it’s great and I know all about lesbians and I saw something on TV once about how you can’t get married and I don’t agree with that and you should get married and have sex, and did I mention my lesbian friend? I think she has sex too.”

There a graph on the super funny gay blog Breeders Digest that perfectly illustrates my feelings on strangers wanting to talk to me about how comfortable they are with gay sex.

Do you remember that morning talk show The Other Half? The cast was Dick Clark, Danny Bonaduce, Mario Lopez and Dr. Jan Adams. It was supposed to be the all guy counterpart to The View, but it never really caught on in that morning talk show slot that’s mainly aimed at women. Get real, what the hell do four straight guys have to chat about? “Hey, Danny, your goatee looks really great, what beard trimmer are you using?” They defaulted to having gay men as guests on the show to liven things up. 

A friend of mine was on the show to promoting a book he’d done called Is He Gay? and during a break one of the hosts (I’ll just let you try and figure out which one) took him aside and excitedly said, “Hey I gave a guy a blowjob once.” Then my friend had to go back on air with the image of a has-been child star and former drug addict with a dick in his mouth. Awkward!

Luckily the coffee shop guy didn’t want to tell me about that one time he got a blowjob from a talk show host, instead he says, "Have you ever heard of that guy..." and he pauses to think for a moment and in that moment my mind flipped through the card catalog in my head of every author that a guy in glasses working in a cafe might be about to ask me if I've read... and names are whirling and I'm thinking it has to be some sort of obscure hipster fiction writer.... William Vollmann? God not Dave Eggers he's too popular. Samuel Delaney? Philip K. Dick? Oh God, maybe he's old school hipster, Philip Roth? I hope he doesn't say Camus...  And the funny part about all this is that I'm trying to read his mind based on his appearance which is actually pretty accurate most of the time.

Then it comes to him and he says "Jaques…um, Lacan?”  It’s even funnier that he wants to know if I've heard of Lacan,  since really, it's not like Lacan was a "writer," he was a psychoanalyst. "Yeah,” he continues, “He’s this guy like Freud, and my girlfriend is a feminist and she hates that I like that guy because of all that stuff about the phallus."

So now I'm stuck, and there are eight people behind me fuming. I can't end the conversation without being rude, and this stranger wants to know what I think about male power and feminism. And hey, I’ll talk about that pretty much any day. It’s my favorite subject. But not when a coffee shop full of people are glaring at me. I literally couldn’t figure out how to get away. So I just stood there, ironically feeling helpless, having a conversation about gender and power dynamics and whether or not Lacan’s concept of the phallus as a signifier of power really favored males over females and whether or not it was possible to take the concept of masculine power and turn it into a way of seeing gender differently. OK, that’s a little boring even to me. Imagine how you’d feel if you were one of the people standing in line behind me. I’m terrified to ever go in that coffee shop again.

And you know what? After all that the guy forgot to make my coffee!

 

Read more of Diana's musings here.

 

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Diana Cage