The Joy Spoiler

San Francisco is a green and pleasant land. Dat and I were driving along the road overlooking the ravine preservation of Glen Park. For six months, that ravine was a source of terror and anxiety as I thought my cat, Harry, had escaped into it and gone native. It turns out he was just walking into neighbor’s houses and eating their cat food. This weekend, I returned and enjoyed the scene without those negative connotations. We were having a nice time until Dat turned serious and said to me, “You have a tendency to spoil other people’s joy. It drives them away.” Then he patted my arm and clasped it. Softly softly now, “Thought you should know.”

Over brunch with my friend, Audrey, and my cousin, Ali, I asked if this was true. Audrey snorted, “He should talk.” Ali calmly explained, “You don’t spoil other people’s joy. You’re just indifferent to it. Like, if I’m doing a crossword puzzle, you’ll come in and ask ‘Why are you doing a crossword puzzle?'” I could understand the distinction since a true joy spoiler would come along with all the answers for the crossword puzzle.

During the visit, the Joy Spoiler label haunted me. I felt especially compromised by my cynicism over the anti-Prop 8 rage in California right now. I oppose marriage. Gays are self-righteous and smug enough without it. Dat was bored by my view: “It’s the same. It hasn’t changed.” “I’m a bit surprised that yours has,” I chastised. We went to the Sprint store so I could get a new phone and Dat could discuss our phone plan. “We’ve been arguing about marriage,” he told the Sprint representative, clasping my arm once more. The two of us bickered and carried on a meta-drama about an ill-suited relationship between two horrific bitches, as we discussed Sprint’s rate for calling cell phones in Italy as opposed to landlines in Italy. At dinner, a few minutes later, he exasperatedly summed it up for everyone at the table, “I’m for Prop 8, but I voted against it.” That settled the issue for the evening.

When Dat said this my mind wandered to when Michael used to call me “husband” during his little fantasies that what we had was a married life. Later, he decided I didn’t have the requisite income to be married to him, but when thinking of Prop 8 in conjunction with the concept of the Joy Spoiler I finally understood our relationship. He saw marriage as a kind of dewy sentimental union with its place in civic life, a place in a familial constellation and with a concrete class status. I have heard all the familiar excuses and rationalizations ad nauseum, such as hospital visitations rights, for example, with its pathetic portrait of the faggot dying of AIDS and his tearful lover clenching the handkerchief from his back pocket while locked outside in the waiting room by a big black nurse. These abstractions which California gays consider “practical” diverged from my more concrete conception of my future together with Michael. I always imagined he and I growing old with him tolerating and loving me in spite of all my actively annoying bullshit.

As I moved the Korean bar-b-que over the grill, my mind wandered to what Tao Lin once Confucianly wrote: “Love is a thing on sale for more money than there exists.” On the flight back, I thought of Tao Lin some more, and wondered if — since he is definitely a joy spoiler, but one who gives me great joy — would I ever, conceivably, be able to seduce him out of heterosexuality. I realized that seduction might be difficult since I have such great difficulty gauging his intelligence.


4 Responses to “The Joy Spoiler”

  1. Sammy in Sydney Says:

    I have always appreciated both Dat and your editorials on mainstream gay issues. At one point I think Dat described himself as a misanthrope. But we have grown older together and I am pleased to see him soften as well as become more enamoured with life (in the form of cashmere, desserts and rare plant specimens mainly). One of the quotes that I think he pinned to you or Miss Becky from the college years is “We all get what we deserve.” I can’t help but think of this during our catapult into this new “gay lib” conflict (within the faggot world as well as the rest of society) but also as you both live out your romantic lives with cats and orchids- while maintaining the hard edge of skepticism toward the general concerns of the gays.

  2. Sammy in Sydney Says:

    Hope that didn’t sound bitchy- I could see how it could be misinterpreted.Jeez, Dat is right I do want everyone to like me. LOL

  3. darknessatnoon Says:

    It did sound bitchy, but it’s fantastic. And I’m glad someone finally equated Dat’s orchid obsession with my love for my cats — they’re equally perverse. I can say that at least I don’t talk to plants. More later; it’s too early in the morning to fully respond.

  4. darknessatnoon Says:

    Sammy, Dat and I were dumb punks back in college who certainly had got some sense kicked into us afterwards. It didn’t help that we came into consciousness together and kept encouraging misanthropy in one another. I do think the mainstreaming impulse among gays does need some checking, but I also am deeply swayed; made ambivalent by its appeal. But I don’t think that misanthropy enters into my reaction to Prop 8. Being self-conscious and at the intersection of a few minority positions, I know you are more predisposed to understanding my position — which is, since when do we need to appeal to the state sanction our intimacies? We both came out young enough, and during a much less tolerant time, without needing Big Daddy to come along with permission for how we live our lives. Nevertheless, I know I’m on the wrong side of history on this issue. Eh!

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