Friday, April 3, 2009
Sex for Success
In a New Yorker profile of the young twin poets Michael and Matthew Dickman, Matthew, who like his brother has a talent for connecting with well known writers able to bestow favors, describes his meeting with the elderly Allen Ginsberg. They talked about poetry. And then, Matthew says, "'I sat down on his bed next to him and just told him how wonderful it had been, and thanked him. And then I thought, This is ridiculous, and I turned in and kissed him, and we kissed for probably fifteen minutes. And it was so sweet and wonderful, like kissing a mushy orange. '" He found it "wonderful." Why? Because it was Allen Ginsberg he was kissing? Oranges are mushy when they are going rotten. The writer and critic Hilton Als confesses he went all the way with an ancient man adept at providing entree to the publishing world for talented black writers. It was like lying down in a grave: musty. I was never up to making love to the aged in exchange for favors, and now that I'm older I don't have enough power to trade on--not that I would, though the young nourish the old. There's a painting of a young woman--renaissance, I think--nourishing an old man from her breast, keeping him alive. In my town there is a hairdresser on every block. Most of the patrons are elderly women, who even in this economic downturn have their hair done every week. "It's the only time anyone touches them," a friend tells me. I don't go to hairdressers; I cut my own hair. I'm lucky: my four-year old grandson is happy to let me take his hand. His hand weighs so little but that small weight is a fresh pleasure that renews me. Am I too wholesome? Should I have been more ambitious, ambitious enough to overcome my disgust and lie down in moldering beds and kiss mushy mouthes? I admit that I have been feasting, as we do when we gossip, on Matthew Dickman, Hilton Als, and Allen Ginsberg. If I actually do feast on flesh it will have to be on baby vegetables. I've given up meat.