Hercules killed a few animals, cleaned a stable and stole the Amazon Queen’s girdle when completing the twelve labours that would restore his honour. Rostam’s seven labours included wrestling with a dragon, killing a witch and a demon. Having written almost 70,000 words and thereby completing an entire book, I feel I’ve earned the right to be in this august clan. Alright, so it’s a first draft and chances are I will have to rewrite significant chunks of it since I wrote about 30,000 words in one week but all that is at least a week later. For now, however, I am a champion.
Returning to the land of the living has been a weird experience because in the past couple of weeks, while I was flattened between pages smelling of gamaxin, it seemed the world went through a Pleasantville-esque shift. Or so my Google Reader told me. Planes were being hit by lightning and disappearing, a la Lost. Suave gents were walking around, doing a Thomas Crowne Affair on jewellery boutiques. Derek Walcott ended up being the more honourable guy, despite also being an incorrigible groper who gives the phrase “To Sir, with Love” a whole new dimension. Tracy Emin said that she finally doesn’t think about sex all the time, while standing in front of a new animated piece that shows a woman masturbating ecstatically. Gordon Brown made it clear that he wanted Balls. Eminem’s face fitted into Sacha Baron Cohen’s bottom with the sweet neatness of matching jigsaw puzzle pieces.
But California didn’t pass the gay marriage bill and Adam Lambert lost American Idol. Unlike Lambert, the few men I know who have pictures of themselves in glorious drag are still hiding their wigs and their breast forms from their wives, parents and friends. Today yet another lesbian friend “turned”, which means she introduced us to her boyfriend. The world is still spinning on the same homophobic axis as before.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to understand and recreate a time when everything was changing. Back to a time when power balances shifted. Old traditions found themselves being abandoned. Marriage and monogamy were new-fangled ideas that had to be imposed upon the society by law. Men created festivals with the hope that it would bring people together and graft a sense of identity into an amorphous mass of people who shared little more than the colour of their skin. I wonder now whether any of the men and women I wrote about understood the times they were living in and the changes that were taking place. Perhaps they plodded along doggedly, not really aware of the enormous shifts they had already forced upon their societies. They didn’t seem to be infected by our intertia. We’re full of a complacency that the bras have been burnt, there is a LGBT sandwich (Lettuce, Gruyere, Bacon and Tomato, if you please) and divorcées not only make it to Page 3 they even get married again (!). Everyone is convinced that everything has changed and they’ve seen it all. Basta la vista, baby.
But of course what really forced me back to earth was a friend, who after listening to this entire impassioned whine/rant, drawled, “You’re just suffering from postpartum depression since you’ve delivered your first draft. Have some vodka, vent on your stupid blog and you’ll feel less like a gay rights activist tomorrow.”