Saturday, July 14, 2007

Funeral Kissing?

Z and I hadn't seen each other in a couple weeks, since my trip to Nashville and his trip to Japan to climb a mountain (Fuji? I'm not sure). So he came and picked me up and we had dinner at Thai Kitchen. I had a red curry with tofu and vegetables and he had a chicken curry. Good food there.

Afterwards we walked around the U.T. campus for a long time, stopping to sit here and there and talk. We have wonderful long conversations that wander and veer, swoop and dive from topic to topic, love, sex, politics, culture. Not so much art. Though I'd given him a draft of my new screenplay to read on his flight to Japan, and we talked a bit about that. He was impressed.

Z has been a little low because the last of his heroes, Lady Bird Johnson, died this week. (The other two were Ann Richards and Molly Ivins, all strong Texas women.) We got to talking about Lady Bird's body lying in state just a few blocks away at the LBJ Library. It wouldn't have occurred to me that it would be open to the public at 11:00 p.m., but Z seemed to think it would be, and I was game to find out. When I'd read in the paper that there would be a public visitation at the library, I immediately wanted to go, mainly just to see the corpse of a famous person. Not sure why. I pictured a glass-topped casket, like Snow White.

So we went, and they were open, and there were lots of people there filing in. The casket was not open, it was closed and covered with a beautiful gold brocade cloth. Two very tall gaunt very old people stood next to it, somberly watching the parade of mourners. They looked like a 19th century farm couple all dressed up, and I wondered if they were family or just who they were. The man was wearing a dark suit, but the woman, whose long white hair was piled on top of her head, wore a pale blue dress. I was more intrigued by them than by the casket.

After paying our respects, we loitered outside the complex of buildings. It reminded me of Lincoln Center, big modern white stone buildings with a huge, white, practically featureless plaza connecting them. There were hundreds of people milling around quietly.

Z and I sat on the stone wall to watch the fountain. I'm not a big fan of public fountains, but this one is striking. There's a huge geyser in the middle of a large, round green-lit pool, and the water splashes dramatically over the edges of the pool. We were holding hands and chatting. We kissed. Just a peck. We were enjoying each other's company, feeling a little emotional about Lady Bird, and we kissed.

A few seconds later a woman approached us and said, "My son is gay, and you're not going to like this, but this is a place of respect and it's very inappropriate to kiss here." According to her, it's poor etiquette to kiss in a place where people are mourning. Touching is okay, kissing is not. She was upset.

Z told her to get lost, not in those exact words but close. I wanted to let her speak her mind. I was curious enough to ask her if this was a rule that applied to heterosexual kissing as well, and she assured me it was. (I guess that's why she prefaced her remarks by outing her son.) She kept repeating herself, getting more and more frantic, seemingly wanting some outcome, wanting something from us, an apology? an acknowledgment of our transgression and a promise to be better from now on? I don't know.

I was willing to admit I might be ignorant and to take responsibility for offending her, but I was skeptical that this was an actual rule, this kissing thing. If it is, it's a very strange rule. It's not like we were making out in front of the casket. We were sitting quietly at the edge of a big public plaza, and we exchanged one dry kiss.

I told her I wasn't experienced with occasions of mourning and that this was the first I'd heard of the kissing prohibition and thank you for enlightening us, but get lost. (I didn't actually say that last bit, but I was pretty well over her, too.) Z was more direct. "Thank you. Goodnight. Please be on your way." She hugged him. That made him madder. She wanted us to like her, I guess.

Anyway, she had ruined the mood, so we left. We went to HEB for a pint of ice cream, brought it back here, and ate it in my room. Z and I have never spent time at my place; if we stay home, it's always his home. We listened to music, played with his new iPhone, did some other stuff, fell asleep, woke up at 4 a.m. I brushed my teeth and asked Z if he wanted to stay, which he did.

This morning we read the paper together in bed. We'd never slept together before.

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