A lot of people have complained that The L-Word does not accurately present lesbian life—not the way that, say, Dallas accurately showed the lives of Texans or Sesame Street portrayed the lives of puppets. When it comes to veracity, my friends, The L-Word is no Average Joe, that paragon of reality. Still, I prefer the coke-snorting, chronically partying gals of The L-Word—the belles of no balls—to those whiny chicks on Queer as Folk. The fact of the matter is, though, that whether you favor the well-groomed, self-righteous lesbians of the latter or the unkempt, hedonistic lesbos of the former, there is a reason TV lesbians aren't like us: no one would watch.
Or at least, speaking for myself, not the unedited version of my life. Sure, if you took all the exciting or interesting or dramatic moments from the past five years or so, you'd have enough material for—well, at least an episode, I think. But on a day-to-day basis, it would be deadly. Alice, Dana, Shane, Bette, and Tina, for example, spend a lot of time sitting around talking—witty comments like 'cold in the streets, hot in the sheets' are the norm—so let's try a typical dinner conversation at our house for the sake of comparison.
'Are the forks on the table yet?'
'No, I'll get them.'
'Can you pass the salt?'
'Good batch of puttanesca.'
'Thanks. Wow, it's spicy.'
'What'd he say? Can you turn the TV up a little?'
If I didn't include dialogue tags in the above, it's because they don't really matter: both of us have probably said each of those phrases, or ones very like them, about 5 or 6 thousand times in the past 15 years. If you are trying to ascertain the accuracy of this count, I should mention that I don't include our first year together, during which the rampant flirting and foreplay didn't allow us actually to make it through dinner most nights.
OK. So maybe dialogue is not our strong suit on a daily basis: let's just focus on the action. 6 a.m. A bedroom. Girl 1 (hairstyle by Opie) sits propped by pillows against the headboard and reaches blindly for the glasses on the nearby table. Girl 2, in stinky exercise clothes, hands girl 1 a cup of coffee. Girl 2 goes downstairs, feeds the dogs, puts lunches in bags, and showers. Girl 1 comes down, puts in contact lenses, eats cereal, changes into exercise clothes.
The car. Girl 1 gets behind the wheel—and pulls into bumper-to-bumper traffic. Girl 2, in the passenger seat, spends the 40-minute ride leaning back on the headrest, her mouth slightly open, grunting occasionally when jolted awake.
I'll skip my workday—during which the sexiest thing that happens is I look for dangling modifiers—and proceed to the ride home, which is completely different from the morning ride: girl 2 gets behind the wheel—and pulls into bumper-to-bumper traffic. Girl 1, in the passenger seat, fiddles with the radio. There is conversation ('Did you get the stamps?' 'Man, am I tired,' etc.), some cussing at other drivers, and then they arrive home and dogs are fed, dog poop is picked up in the yard (the stuff of glamour, for sure!), dinner is made—and I think this is where we came in.
Of course, The L-Word and all TV shows and movies—and even documentaries—are, in fact, edited. You don't think Shane just gets up in the morning looking like that, do you? Hair like that doesn't just 'happen'—without, at least, a small animal having tried to nest there or having spent two days on a motorcycle with no helmet. Reflecting on the process of selective detail, my first temptation is to think, 'I wish someone would edit the ordinary parts out of my life.' But sometimes those seemingly ordinary parts—enjoying a meal together, watching the dogs sleep, sitting side by side and reading—are the sweetest parts of the day.
Furthermore, the very real fear exists that if the mundane bits of my life were edited out there would be nothing left! In short, if Kathy and I resemble belles in any way, I have to believe it's only because we're ding-dongs.
c 2004 by Yvonne Zipter.
Yvonne Zipter can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by going to her Web site (www.yvonnezipter.com).