once again, science ruins my dearest illusions

everyone understands themselves so poorly. they’ll sincerely believe themselves to be good people while doing terrible things. They’ll say one thing and do another. They make decisions that turn out to make them unhappy. People don’t even know how to describe their “type”. They’d rattle off a list of attributes that they want and then fall for someone who’s hardly what they’ve described.

by “they” of course, I mean me.

re-watched some episodes of The L Word today. it’s exactly as bad as it ever was, but, unlike most things that I loved when I was younger, I still enjoy it now.

It’s entirely ridiculous. And I just realized now how it shaped so much of my behavior as a baby lesbian. I used it (not really consciously) as a blueprint for how to be in a relationship – how to handle problems, how to express affection, how to present ourselves as a couple in public, how to have sex… at the time I thought all these fictional lives were actually representative at all of how lesbianism worked.

In retrospect, that is completely fucking dumb. Nothing is realistic about them. Not their lifestyles, not their jobs, not their community, and especially not their relationships.

Of course, I wasn’t watching it and thinking, “I’m going to act just like this when I get a girlfriend!” In the absence of any other guide, it was just the only thing I had, pathetic as that sounds.

This same process of unconscious internalization, I believe, is also what makes most boys terrible at sex – it’s from watching all that awful porn. It’s a force vector that is pushing them that way (to think that good sex is that devoid of tenderness) with no opposing forces (eg., better porn, or reading something, or being with a very definite girl).

I was amazed at how the images still worked on me. For example, the idea of threesomes has never appealed much to me. I pictured confusion, awkwardness and far too many limbs flailing around. However, in one scene, a couple brought a girl inside a club’s VIP lounge with them. The room was dimly lit by undulating pink and purple lights, and the dance music sounded distant. Parties have always seemed to me to have a dreamlike quality. Like time stops and nothing much matters except what’s right in front of you at that moment – your friends, that girl you’re eyeing, the drink you’re being handed – and I could feel it just watching the show, that dream atmosphere. The couple danced and kissed while the girl watched. Then, slowly, they extended their hands towards her, a wordless invitation. In the music and the lights they all kissed and undressed each other. And in that moment, I thought to myself, “Fuck! I could really go for a threesome right now!”

After that, I was struck by the realization that perhaps the reason my first girlfriend and I got on the way we did was because we both loved that show. We were working from the same blueprint. We talked about it some, but neither of us realized just how deep of an impact it had on us. All this time I’ve thought that there was something about us, some indescribable connection that no one could match. How else to explain how she knew just how to touch me, knew what I would want her to do, even though we rarely talked about sex? How to explain the mutual, glorious, awful, co-dependent wreckage of our lives? How to explain the way we made each other feel: like nothing and no one compared to our love?

well, because we watched the same show and it taught us what to want. and we were both so bereft of any other examples that we thought that was how love worked.

it’s insane… couples separate and get back together seemingly against their will, like love is an emotion that has them helpless in its grip. Meanwhile the issues that caused them to separate are still there; sometimes they’re already in other relationships. someone set someone’s building on fire. A military captain left the army to be with her girlfriend (this was during DADT). A wealthy girl did a stint in prison and ran off with her cellmate. And one of them had girls literally chasing her, on foot, for sex as she escaped in a car.

that sort of thing.

well, at least now I have an answer to that mystery. I’m not sure what that’ll mean for my novel. As I’ve said before, knowing the factual explanation behind something that seems metaphysical isn’t supposed to make it less meaningful. But I feel quite a bit deflated. All this time I’d been thinking that it was something so ineffably wonderful that no one would ever be able to explain.


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