THE PURLOINED LETTER
 
   
 
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Saturday, June 12, 2004


Mush 


I've let this go for too long and now I have a dozen things I want to write about before my brain turns into Reaganesque mush. Oh dear, that was irreverent, wasn't it? Well, someone needs to be while everyone else is fawning over The Great Communicator.

Yes, it's true. As hard as I've tried to ignore it all, the last few days I've caught myself thinking quite a bit about Reagan's mushbrain, the going price of pomp and circumstance, the aching backs of young men lifting 800 pounds of casket*, all the men in black that we assign to former first families, and the precise shade of Nancy Reagan Red. My swirling irreverencies come down to this: Maybe the brits shouldn't complain so much about the costs of an anachronistic monarchy; our wonderful alternative couldn't possibly be any cheaper.

And then there's the side show. Grab your barf bag for all the opportunistic fawning that Maureen Dowd points out so well. Favorite lines from her column: "...W. was peeping out from behind the majestic Reagan mantle..." and "...Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz tried to merge Junior and Gipper" and "Just as Ronnie was a poor kid from Dixon, Ill., who reinvented himself as a brush-clearing cowboy of grand plans and simple tastes, so W. was a rich kid from Yale and Harvard and a blue-blooded political dynasty who reinvented himself as a brush-clearing cowboy of grand plans and simple tastes."

* While the casket at graveside most certainly looks like wood, I know of 2 soldiers (one a Hoosier – see the last story on a Richmond IN news station's page – and the other a son of a friend in Champaign) who have told others about carrying a marble casket. Iffy asks me if caskets were switched at some point. Good question. What gives?



Basic Form 


While I'm contemplating the findings of my recent surgery (not terrible, but not good either), and the surgeon's recommendations for therapy (2 "evils" with no "better of" between them), I find myself still ruminating on themes from Middlesex.

Over 2 months before I'd even picked up the novel, I happened across a site on Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. I found this statement fascinating: "So in a genetically male (XY) foetus the active intervention of male hormones (androgens) is needed to produce a fully male system. A female body type with female external genitalia is the basic underlying human form."

It seems to me that if society accepted this basic scientific concept, a lot of time-honored ideas about sex and gender roles (not to mention a few foundational myths) would need to be reconsidered.

In the mean time, I find the prospect of excising my own internal female genitalia so emotionally wrenching that, as my male primary-care physician recently pointed out, I can barely bring myself to say the "H" word.