Journal of the Plague Year 2020: Why Would That Make You Uncomfortable?

kit-kat club
The men of the Kit-Kat Club, who have a lot to teach us about masculinity.

Sometimes I wonder why I read The Guardian. I already subscribe to the Washington Post and New York Times. It’s obscurely comforting to see that Great Britain’s Prime Minister is a dishonest buffoon, true, and to watch old-school British politicians spank him during the Prime Minister’s Questions. But is that really necessary to my happiness? Maybe a third paper is too much news.

This morning’s fashion section reminded of how I got addicted to The Guardian. By American standards, it’s a charmingly queer paper. Why, just today there was a wry editorial from their fashion columnist marveling that American masculinity is so fragile that it collapses under the burden of mask-wearing. Priya Elan writes:

Can masculinity be so glacially unmovable and paper-thin fragile? Apparently, yes…. [because] some men’s notions of masculinity are intertwines with a corrosive mix of petulance, indestructibility and, ultimately, privilege.

Who is this Priya Elan fellow, I wondered. I checked out a few other pieces he’d written recently, on subjects like how to wear a neck chain. We’re told that there’s a trend towards men wearing a single pearl earring, which is so damn cool I intend to start immediately.

From here, I was led to a feisty dismissal of Will Ferrell’s spoof of Eurovision, which links to some flat-out awesome YouTube videos demonstrating why Eurovision resists the ham-handed parody of straight Americans. That’s some firmly queer shit, in a mode that Americans can’t grasp. It’s the reason Adam Ant’s brilliant Vive Le Rock was greeted with uncomfortable silence on this side of the Atlantic.

It occurs to me that this is part of my problem with gender in America. For me, the apotheosis of masculinity is this Eurovision lip-sync performance of “Goody Two-Shoes,” in which a straight but deeply queer pop star dresses up in classic Tom of Finland style and rocks the handkerchief code. (To which I say, Red in the right pocket? Let me help you out with that. I keep my nails short.)

When I first started looking into becoming a man, the professionals I consulted would ask gently, helpfully if perhaps I’d like to wear the occasional dress.

“Oh, dear, yes. I don’t plan to give that up.”

Then perhaps I was non-binary, not a man.

“Nope. Definitely a man. One that wears the occasional dress.” I don’t doubt that some people are non-binary, though “they” is an inelegant pronoun. But I’m not. I’m an effeminate man. Seems pretty simple to me.

That’s why I read The Guardian. The Times means well, but it’s cursed with a kind of classically American earnestness on queer subjects.

The stats below are from Johns Hopkins, which updates confirmed cases and deaths more quickly, and covidtracking.com, which tracks hospitalizations and recoveries. It’s bad news, naturally. As we used to say on my old program when we were asked to do something needlessly risky, Why would that make you uncomfortable? What are you? Some kind of pussy?

Confirmed Covid-19 cases in Arizona: 91,858

Current hospitalizations: 2,938

Deaths: 1,794

Recovered: 10,137

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