I first learned about this book a while ago when a few of the essays were serialized in the NYTimes. They were pretty good essays, so I was looking forward to reading a book that essentially reflects (the flapcopy uses the term celebrates,
but as you'll see, I don't think it's much of a celebration) on the relationship between gay men and straight women. Unfortunately, the best essays were serialized in the Times, and I really could have saved myself some time and money by just keeping those (which I had already done).
I guess it wasn't all that bad. With twenty-eight essays, it does manage to hit a large berth of examples. And I guess the book's true value comes in how it caused me to reflect on the varying relationships I have with the different women in my life.
Interestingly enough, the essay I found most intriguing was the one that helped me look at my relationship with Belle. Now, I realize that she's not a straight woman (because she is, after all, a dog, and likely a lesbian at that), but one essay focused on the author's relationship with his dog walker. For starters, the author's dog is rather similar to Belle, including her propensity to show off her rather large "lady parts." Most significantly, though, is how the author was able to pass out all his affection to his dog, making him unavailable to commit to any of the men who formed his long string of boyfriends. I may have been unwilling to admit this at the time, but the greatest thing enabling me to break up with Grant was Belle. With Belle, I still had a creature to shower with affection and love. And with that diversion for my emotions, I was able to see why Grant and I were together and, more importantly, why it wasn't working.
This collection works as a reflection tool. I don't know if it's the book or if it's my take on the book, but the overall impression that I'm left with after reading this book is that the gay man–straight woman relationship isn't necessarily one to celebrate because it seems to consist of a great deal of dysfunction and angst. I don't think that's the effect the editors were going for.
an addendum . . .
Because it seems that I have, of late, disconnected my internal audience editor, perhaps I should clarify a thought or two. When it comes down to it, I feel that all relationships are, to some extent or another, dysfunctional. Professional relationships have a tendency toward minimal dysfunction whereas personal relationships have a tendency toward maximal dysfunction. The key to relationships is negotiating them to the dysfunction you're personally comfortable with.
Also, this book doesn't really deal with the gay man–straight woman relationship so much as the fag hag relationship. I don't use that term throughout this post because, well, I really rather hate that term. And I don't think fruit fly is much better, though it sounds more pleasant. (Fag stag and dyke dude on the other hand . . . Well, is that just another example of the privileged patriarchy? I don't know. Where's Arwen to help clarify and answer these things?)
I'm sure there is more clarifying that I ought to do, but I seem to have forgotten my train of thought.