Sunday, January 20, 2013

Letter to a friend, not really…..

"Los quince minutos de fama de la Movida, más hip que substancia, subieron y bajaron. Por suerte que, fuera de la península, nadie se enteró que se había movido algo en España."  Yeyita la de La Quince

Dear Past Tense,

When you first arrived from the provincial “has been” Latin American city, and corrected my “debieras” with a “deberías”, a few things were revealed about you. It was clear that your knowledge of Spanish grammar was rather elementary when I asked you to explain why, in that particular instance, was the indicative more appropriate than the subjunctive. Your surprised face revealed that you did not know the difference between the two modes. Yet, you dared, “acabadito de llegar”, in my own house to correct me. It was not as much the correction that led you to such stupid and ignorant move but to establish a power hierarchy that would separate me from my acquaintance, with whom I was re-establishing some kind of friendship. And why? Obviously, your move would give you some kind of control over the other, the significant other.

But better than your function as a member of the Real Academia de la Lengua was the role you played as Ms. Table Manners. Remember when you scolded me for not knowing how to use the “cubiertos”. "Say what!" was my internal reaction, and since my acquaintance tacitly agreed with you, I smiled and kept eating. It did not stop there as you continued to create conflicts whenever the three of us were together.

When you and I were alone, it was a different story, nonetheless you did not stop to expose yourself. By telling me about your escapades to the bath houses in Harlem, you affairs with your peer at the school, the rendezvous with the other ex lover from Washington, the visit to truck stops en route to the country home, you tested me also; and I did not betray you. Little you knew about me. Power or table manners are the least of my worries. Such rigid preoccupations are so illusory that they can lead people to suicide without knowing they are actually killing themselves.

Why did I keep quiet then and write about it now? With regards to the first part of this question, at the time I knew that if I went with “cuentos” to my friend, you were going to play the “perdóname, papi” role and I would have looked like a “chismoso”, and “no hay nada peor que un hombre chismoso”; and also  it was quite obvious that my acquaintance was more concerned with pleasing you than knowing you.  Since all of this was taking place around the time when AIDS was killing my friends. Frank, Gunter, Gary, Guillermo, Paul, Joachim (the list is quite long) had recently died or were very sick, my own need for company blinded me to facing the truth about loyalties, including what were my acquaintance's priorities. 
Why now? Well all of this happened two decades ago and no one but their egos is going to be hurt, and also this anecdote can serve to understand how men and women respond to dishonesty and greed (your wardrobe went from copies made in third world shops to originals). Most men, gays included, tend to wait until the situation is beyond control to share with their friends what they know about their lovers. Women are more daring and willing to immediately tell their friends about the cheating husbands, boyfriends, lovers; and are even willing to challenge the cheater. But if a man dares to talk, he will have to face the rage of the “cornudo”. A man’s ego and need for power is stronger than the truth that is hitting him on his face. He will lie, justify it but to quickly accept the truth is hardly going to happen. That is why, when it comes to sex and love affairs, men and women, including lesbians and gay men, are rarely good at being each other's support systems. 

Time has passed and now I have no idea as to your whereabouts but the memories of how a man plays power games with another man is present, very present; and if you read this letter, think of Cavafis' poem about an  old mirror and a young man, reflecting each other, their histories: the young man sees his distorted present, perhaps his future; and the mirror through the eyes of old age sees its truisms.

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