Sunday, November 08, 2009

how lovely

It's 8.30am on Sunday and I am reading yesterday's papers. I have already clipped some articles: one about two sisters born to an aboriginal father and Dutch mother; one about the tradition of literary salons; one about the fear of mental illness and one about the suicide issues the Yolngu people are facing in their community.
Then I came to an article by Peter Craven, presumably about Australian theatre according to the headline. It's not an article I will read or clip. Lots of stories I just flick over. I'm not interested in clipping anything about wars, current or past. I am interested in Holocaust stories. I am interested in mass murders and things like that, but I don't clip them. I do clip stories about children dying at the hands of their mothers. I clip interesting articles about animals and especially if there is an unusual intersection with humans; recently there was an article about a family living in Melbourne with an autistic boy who was displaying very extreme behaviour. They read about and got a dog (from America I think it was, because none are trained here) who now lives with them and is companion and "helper" to their son. Their son's behaviour has modified, or become more moderate; he doesn't have as many tantrums, doesn't wander as much (and if he does, the dog follows him and stays with him.) It appealed to all my latent Lassie fantasies and I cried as I read out bits to the family. My daughter thinks I'm weird, I'm sure. The mother who is close to tears.
This photo above appealed to me. It made me think about men and how they generally aren't physically affectionate with each other. Possible Rush and Armfield are in a lineup to take a bow? This was my first thought. But no, the caption to the picture says they were photographed as they were preparing for Exit the King. Also Armfield's other hand is in his pocket. What strikes me is the way Geoffrey Rush is looking at Neil Armfield and how completely comfortable he looks, in holding another man's hand. Armfield is displaying some body language of discomfort, but he might just be laughing at something completely unconnected to the fact that he is gripping the hand of a man.
It's a lovely photo and it makes me wish we saw more men holding hands, with arms across shoulders, kissing each other on the cheeks. When I first went to Turkey, I was surprised to see men walking arm in arm along the street. Young men, old men. It was a very real cultural difference to me. I'm not sure it still happens; in later years I don't remember seeing it, but in 1990, it was very apparent.
The only time I see men kissing each other hello, and goodbye, is when I'm with two of my gay friends. Maybe it's up to gay men to start the revolution. They need to start bringing the kiss hello to their heterosexual male friends.
If we could all touch each other a little more, maybe we'd all be happier.


jo_blue said...

It's the same here, though I suspect not as much now. Boys (up to about 20, I guess)draping arms over each other and being physically closer in public was something I'd never seen and a big culture shock.

And I agree with your last line - if we touched more or even looked into each others eyes and smiled more, people would be happier. Have you ever noticed how fond we are of averting the gaze of a stranger?

PS Look forward to giving you a big hug!

Perseus said...


Melba said...

I'll give you a little longer Perseus to come up with a better comment than that pathetic piece of predictableness.

We need more hetero-male hand-holding. We do! You can help start the movement.

gullybogan said...

The whole bromance thing gives me involuntary shivers of uncomfortness...

I read that article on salons, too, in the Letter from London column. I so want to be invited to swan around a salon somewhere, spouting pretentious bullshit about books and such with other writers...

But i don't think i'd like it as much if i had to hold hands with the boys while doing it...

Perseus said...

I'll give you a little longer Perseus to come up with a better comment

Sadly, it's the best I've got.

I'm all for loving my fellow men, but I don't want to hold hands with them.

Perseus said...

I would like to add (in the light of day) that I do have male friends that I hug and kiss when we catchup... like the Mafia do. You know, man-hugs full of backslapping, and kisses on cheeks.

But I find hand-holding to be intimate in a way hugging and kissing is not.

It is at that point my heterosexuality kicks in.

Epskee said...

My bf is lebanese, and i LOVE the way they greet with hugs and kisses, and are not afraid to touch one another at all.

We went to a club with one of his cousins here on holidays from his home in the middle east, and the girls all loved how he would dance, laugh, kiss, hug and affectionately touch his countrymen on the dancefloor.

Despite having no english skills, and being a 24 year old virgin too afraid to even look at the scantily clad western women, he had the best time of anyone at the club that night, of that Im sure.

And it was a pleasure to behold.

Perseus said...

Epskee: But did he hold hands with them in a lingering fashion? said...

Totally with you on that one, Melba. I've long held a theory that part of the reason suicide rates among teenage boys are relatively high is that often, touching (by other people, not necessarily touching themselves!) pretty much stops when they reach puberty/the grunting stage. I reckon - in the absence of anything else - a massage once a month or so is therapeutic in terms of being touched by another human being. For teenage boys. Or anyone else, really. And no, it doesn't have to have a 'happy ending'.

Also, did you see John Butler on 'Who Do You Think You Are'? He and his dad kissed and hugged and it was just beautiful. It made me think that if I ever have kids, I'd want someone not afraid to kiss and hug their kids into adulthood to father them.

Melba said...

Just looked up his song but I'm guessing the scene you talk about comme to mumma was from a show? Couldn't find it. More details would be good, then I'll try to look it up.

I love it when fathers are physically affectionate with their sons, kissing them and hugging them after they have grown from little boys. Everyone needs this sort of touching and women friends are very huggy with each other, and with their children if they have them (not all, agreed, but it's easier to be that way if you want, you don't have to suppress it.)

My husband's a very touchy person and his kids including his son love to hug him. And I will be on standby, watching with my eagle eye, to make sure he continues this into their adulthoods.