I’ve been reading Gore Vidal's review of a memoir by John Updike. Gore -- may I call him Gore? -- marshals in full his heroic capacity for sarcasm as he proceeds to deconstruct Updike the man. I’d been waiting for Gore to die -- being the last of that coterie of mid-century luminous literati that danced so enthusiastically before a celebrity-adoring public. (You see, Young Reader, there was once a time (before reality tv, before talkshows had been utterly taken over by comedian hosts chatting solely to actors (mostly B-list starlets)) when actual conversation counted as entertainment.) Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, were the Kardashians and Huni Bubus of that lost age, only, possessing talent. Dead dead dead, now, all gone, but lamented only in the way that cellphones are enjoyed … because that’s how progress precedes.
And I was wondering, reading Gore’s snide, unfair critique of Updike, how might the latter have responded. We cannot diminish it, dismiss it as an attempt at wit, because it is witty. For all that his stylishly framed tropes are oddly (not surprisingly, not distressingly) superficial, yet Vidal (‘Gore’ has become grating) was talented. But the word talent sets up a clangorous resonance with the parable of the talents. What is to be made of the man of talent, who wastes it? Not wasted in terms of productivity, for Gore Vidal, GV, was prolific.
I just don’t know if it is fair to judge a man for his unwisedom, as GV was, a deep, profoundly deep leftist. Maybe it’s an inherent trait in some people, the marrow of their souls, that no lesson of reality gentle or harsh can ever expunge. We judge a man first for his actions, then for his influence, and only last for his delusions. Be that as it may, what we have here is a put-down artiste, never comfortable with the burly candor of the men’s locker room, save as a homosexual, but in full-throated glory in the epicene’s salon.
And it was in reading Vidal’s essay on Nabokov’s Lolita that I decided never to read Lolita. The movie, parts of which I have seen, never engaged me. The book, reports suggest, is on a par with Naked Lunch, which long ago once found itself airborne between my hand and the wastepaper basket. Filth, trash -- not quite le mot juste. The nightly and years-long rape of a pubescent and later nubile girl as a morif just doesn’t grip me, for all the elegance of style or pathos of theme. Tsk tsk, ain’t it a shame, now let’s think about her clitoris some more.
Someone Wednesday had a big grin on his face because I was interacting with a lovely young woman. Seems I am suspected of heterosexual intentions. It’s almost a source of grief, and certainly one of unrest, how alienated I am from an adult expression, unleashing, of my libido. Who let the dogs out. This one was too young in any event -- not Lolita young, my son’s age -- and I do have a sense of decorum … unless I’m tempted, and that’s unlikely to happen when I’m in the capacity I was then occupying. But she was lovely, maybe a seven on a good day, and I’m quite charming, and I could not help but notice, and I’m good at ignoring, her smooth as cream breasts. Sort of noticeable. Which occasionally gets me to thinking what it must be like to be a woman, with such an obvious and inconvenient, um, badge of sexuality.
I’m glad I’m not a woman. I simply wouldn’t know what to do with, um, my, uh, breasts. I mean, they’re just there, and you can’t hide them in shame, and it’s not polite or fair to flaunt them. But maybe it is. Not my problem though. Having a dick is difficult enough. And don’t get me started on balls. Always in the way, and I think my scrotum is getting baggier. I’m finding my underwear isn’t providing as much support as in the past. An elastic issue? I do hold on to them for a long time -- I'm referring to my underwear, and I want a pair that lifts and separates. Somebody should market that idea.
I know I’m wrong, but I consider it rude and unethical to impose my sexuality on someone I don’t know extremely well. As my first marriage informed me, it is an imposition. I wish I were normal. Cuz from what I’ve seen from the internet, I have an exceptionally nice penis and any woman would be lucky to enjoy it with me for a while. Maybe I should write a novel about that. Give me some feedback and we’ll take it from there. I’ve already got some potential titles: The Night and the Pillar, An American Cream, In Hot Blood ... it’s too easy. I’d do for middle aged horndogs what Nabokov did for incestuous pedophiles.
Ho hum. Now you might suppose that the use of my own talent also is not entirely beyond a susceptibility to criticism. It may be you harbor the suspicion that I am not utilizing my gifts in a way fully consistent with my artistic and intellectual possibilities. To this I must agree, and add a lament as well for my untapped and seminal potential -- like deepsea drilling, like the Keystone Pipeline, like fracking. Why are liberals so against heterosexual missionary-position sex? But we are the way we are, until we’re some other way. It’s in the bones, which twist with disease, break with trauma, and grow with health until they harden.
You’d think I’m too smart to be so unwise. But that’s what this whole post has been about. Meanwhile, don’t worry about me. If anything were a real problem, I wouldn’t talk about it.
This is what I did on Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family.