My Punk Rocker, and Some Notes on Jake

Sunday, December 18th, 2016 | The Dating Game

I had a date last night with a punk rocker. He fronts a band whose name brings to mind an eastern European metal group. His band is actually named after one of the Golden Girls, camouflaged by an umlaut. And despite his bouncer façade, he is the sweetest guy who ever lived. Everything about him is soft, from his body to his touch to his lips to his lilting, almost lispy voice. He busies himself with craft projects and cooking, listens to public radio and answers simple questions with long rambling narratives that steer this way and that, taking his incredulous listener on unexpected journeys that somehow, and long after you’ve forgotten what the original question was, wind back to an answer. A completely delightful date and a firecracker of a lover.

Meanwhile, I can’t seem to shake Jake out of my head. I resist the urge to blurt out that I love him already–hesitant not because I’m unsure of my feelings, and, despite evidence to the contrary (like everything I say), I am aware that love can’t be projected onto someone, that it does need time to develop on its own. But still, I feel, and I feel. My hesitation, and indeed my interest, stem from knowing him so keenly already. I’ve looked at his films, read one of his screenplays, his poetry. In the few works that he’s chosen to share with me, the older man who most passionately captures his engagement is aloof, distant, unavailable. His most vulnerable and articulate character is brutally abused by a younger man, a tragic victim of his expressed desires.

Terry Gross interviewed Woody Allen a few years ago, inquiring about the relation between his private life and his art. He seemed oblivious, firmly denying any connection. In his films, Allen’s characters each show such a keen sense of self, questioning and examining their motivations and desires articulately and passionately. I just wasn’t buying it. Jake’s characters are similarly introspective, yet Jake seems to know where he is in his art in a way that Allen won’t admit to. Jake has spoken of his fears of vulnerability and commitment, but I haven’t heard about or experienced much of his passions. I see them in his art, and thus a sort of ennui has settled over me, as my pitches to be considered an object of his desire seem so artfully deflected.

In early Renaissance painting, the saints are given blank expressions, so that the penitent may project his or her emotions onto the canvas. Jake’s beauty and guardedness present a complex medium onto which I’ve concentrated a lot of perhaps unrealistic romantic aspirations. I honestly don’t know yet what can happen off canvas, but the picture I see beguiles and entrances me.

The Dating Game continues…

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