A Serenity of Genetic Discombobulation

Monday, December 27th, 2004 | Family

Mom and Dad have been visiting and I’m all discombobulated. Unlike discombobulations of Christmases past, a kind of serenity has replaced the typical distress associated with my parents’ visits. I’m almost 40. The interest that they’ve show in my work and life, while at best encouraging, has not been accompanied by any real depth or understanding. For almost 40 years. My dad mentioned his 7 grandkids last night–not including the one that I’ve spent the last 11 years raising–the one who calls me dad. My older brother, as my dear younger brother painfully, almost tearfully, confessed to me, voted for George Bush—not out of fear for his current affluent job as beneficiary of US imperialism, but because he was against gay marriage. My brother has chosen some weird idea of a god who only welcomes white heterosexuals, who marry to procreate, into his kingdom over me. I’m a little unsure of how to deal with this bit of information, but back to my parents… They really mean well. Gay men are just not part of their experience, and while they campaigned for George McGovern and are supposedly staunch liberals, gay men are like martians that they want to believe are human, but just look at them, they’re martians. In some alternate universe my mom would say, “Chris, BC is REALLY hot and I can see why you threw away everything to be independent and your art really touches something deep and primal and Godard’s last film really made me think about my relation to longing and place and media and did you see the Joe Brainard show and isn’t Charlie Kaufman’s presence in American cinema one of the most exciting things to jolt the mainstream public since Bill Clinton…” Instead I smile and shake my finger disapprovingly at their borderline racist comments, and try slyly to involve them in my life. “Mom, Dad, want to go see this movie about this amazing outsider artist at one of our country’s landmark movie palaces?” Are they going to just die without us ever really connecting? They are going to die without us ever really connecting. My experience will never be essential to them. My parents and I no longer wade in the same gene pool. I’m happy in my own pond.

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