Friday 28 September 2007

Betrayal and the moment in the door

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently, on the tricky personal topic of betrayal, specifically betraying oneself. We had been caught up in a strange moment together, and by some stroke of grace, happened to be both willing to talk about it, even though it was the kind of thing people so easily dismiss and often don't readily address with each other, especially two people who don't know each other tremendously well. But we were willing, and we did talk about it, and I think we learned a lot about each other from that chat.

But the topic was not easy, and was revealing. The event happened a week ago. This friend, we'll call him Eric, happens to live a block and a half away from me. One evening last week I was going for an evening stroll and I found myself ringing on his and his boyfriend's doorbell to see if he'd like to come too. And his boyfriend - let's call him Klaus - Klaus' eyes were bulging out of his head at the sight of me standing outside in the hallway. I was feeling very strange vibes and feeling like an intruder, and a foolish one at that. I hit the sidewalk fast.

So we met and had a drink about a week later and talked about it. Turns out that Klaus is the type that does not like having people just drop by, considers calling unannounced to be a horrible thing.

Eric, on the other hand, is in love with the San Francisco model of living, and "wouldn't discourage it" (he can also be quite circumspect). And so, by not inviting me in that day, he felt that he was betraying himself in some way. And it led to a fiesty conversation with his newly-moved-in-with lover.

This has happened before, with a new male friend and his boyfriend. The first time it happened was with a friend of mine in Dublin, an artist, lets call him Egon. We hung out a bit together a few years ago, I wrote an essay for a catalogue of his. The specific boyfriend-tension event happened when his boyfriend attacked me verbally like a starving rottweiler at the opening of a show of Egon's, and I was literally energetically propelled out of the building.

Egon and I also had a moment in the door, at the opening of that show. We stood there, Egon at the door, and me out on the street, shaken and clutching my scooter. Egon felt desperately badly about it, apologising on behalf of his 'psychotic boyfriend' but I was just so shocked and I didn't have the courage to stand up and tell him how I felt about it, and be willing to hear how he truly felt about the whole thing. I hopped on my scooter and propelled myself away from that doorway, up Eustace street, as fast as I could get out of there. We didn't really talk about it again. There wasn't really any way into the subject. We have drifted out of touch, though I think Egon rocks and I am very fond of him, and his work.

So this chat with Eric was a little bit different.

That moment in the door is an interesting one. What is done, where each person stands and steps, how events play out, what feelings arise, and what place those feelings are given, subsequently.

And then, once it's done, what happens next: do you ignore it, silently denying that it happened, and forge alternative allegiances to compensate, or do you face the elephant in the room, like Eric did, and start talking about it?

I think what happens in these door moments can change the course of a person's life. These are the essential, easily compromised aspects of our lives, and the whole deal is done and dusted in a heartbeat, before we've even really noticed anything has happened, at all.


  1. I don't know if anyone has ever written a dialogue of body language, of affect, there is a rough notation for dance, there is stage direction, but a real dialogue? how would you do it?

  2. That's beautiful, Ross. I wrote a scene from a play in that way, a few years ago. But that idea is rolling around in my head, now. Ace.