Thursday, March 6, 2014

7 Life Lessons from the Seventh Episode of "Looking"

1. A house (or apartment) is not truly a home unless it belongs equally to both partners living in it. I've never officially moved in with a boyfriend or had one officially move in with me, which might make me perhaps the latest bloomer alive. But if I were to one day take that plunge, I think I'd insist on us moving into a place that we found together rather than him moving in with me or me moving in with him. That way both of us would avoid ever having to hear the other say what Frank said to Agustín in the March 2 episode of Looking: "You gotta get your shit out.... I don't want to live with you anymore."

Granted, what Agustín did -- hire a $220-an-hour hooker to have sex with Frank while he watched... and filmed it -- was spectacularly degrading to both of them, but if someone is able to throw you out of the home that was previously supposedly both of yours, then it was only his to begin with. About a year ago, one of my exes told me about being forced to move out of the apartment that he shared in Balaclava, Melbourne, with his most recent ex and five of that ex's friends. (He and the ex had their own bedrooms, he was sure to tell me, which must have meant that it was one gigantic place.)

That sounded like the worst thing about the split, being more or less kicked out of his home on top of it. I never want to be the guy collecting my things off the front lawn. I never want to be Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston in The Break-Up either, or Fran Drescher and her gay ex in the now-defunct TV Land sitcom Happily Divorced. Somebody needs to leave. But if it's me, it's got to be my choice, not his demand.

2. A happy drunk is not necessarily a desirable drunk. Kevin is lucky that Russell Tovey (his portrayer) is so devilishly handsome. Otherwise I'd want him off my TV screen immediately. Since he was introduced in the third episode as Patrick's boss, aside from his physical appearance, I've yet to see one redeeming quality about him. He's been teasing Patrick practically from the moment they met, dangling himself in front of him like some unattainable blue-blood ribbon. Ugh. Maybe it's the British accent, but everything about Kevin screams, "I'm a little bit better than you are."

He even thinks he's a better drunk than his boyfriend, just because he acts like a drunken fool in the privacy of a bathroom. When he leaned in to kiss Patrick, made a joke about how he wasn't going to do that, then did it anyway, I loved Patrick's response. Go on, push that handsome devil away. Let him wallow in the misery of his status relationship with an American sports doctor because guys like him always kiss you and leave you as soon as the buzz wears off, if not sooner.

3. Beware of eligible bachelors bearing flowers and good deeds. Although Lynn is too much of a know-it-all to be my particular cup of tea (as much as I adore Scott Bakula in the role), he's basically a pretty decent guy. But I still think he has ulterior motives, even if he isn't consciously aware of them. He needs to figure out why he's so eager to help Dom set himself up as a restaurateur. There's more to it than he's letting on, and if it wasn't evident in the way he kept advising Dom while they were preparing the Chinese restaurant for Dom's "pop-up," being more nurturing mentor than business associate, it was clear from the awkward way he described himself as Dom's "partner... in... in this."

Dom, for his part, was being a jerk, but he's been one since the series began. (My biggest continuing problem with Looking is that I'm not really sure what Patrick, who is basically a sweet guy, sees in either of his best friends, which is the same problem I have with Girls, but never had with Sex and the City.) If he and Lynn are going to be just friends, just business partners or romantic business partners, they need to start being honest about what they want from each other and stop trying so hard to protect their hearts and egos in that typical face-saving fortysomething-and-older way.

4. There comes a time when we all must own our own shit. I know, it's tempting to blame the parents. I've spent most of my adult life wanting to cast an accusatory eye upon my divorced parents for ruining my faith in marriage. Though I may not have had the best example of marital bliss growing up, every single decision, every single mistake I've ever made when it comes to relationships has been on me.

Patrick's mom (played by the divine Miss Julia Duffy) struck me as the typical status mom from the moment she appeared on Patrick's computer screen, from her affected upper-middle-class banter to the way she pointedly referred to Richie (or as she put it, Richard) as Patrick's friend. He was probably right to think that she wouldn't have approved of Richie. But as someone who recently had a long-lost ex (not the one from No. 1) send me an email in which he apologized for being an ass when we were together and then blamed it on his fear of his mother's reaction to me, I can tell you that when you're on the receiving end of such ridiculousness, there's no one to blame but the person who is directly dishing it out.

I'd like to think that Patrick's mother's refusal to accept the blame that he laid at her feet sunk in and that a newfound enlightenment contributed to his resisting the smarmy charm of drunk Kevin. But we'll have to wait until the next episode, the first-season finale, to see if Patrick has really learned his lesson at all.

5. Never loan your lap top out to anyone. I can't speak for everybody, but I have a feeling that the way Patrick slammed his lap top shut and threw it down on the table after he talked to his mom and went to open the door for Richie is exactly how a lot of people do it in real life. I treat my Acer Aspire One mini-notebook like the fragile and invaluable electronic device that I expect everyone to regard it as, even when they've just finished Skype-ing with their annoying mom and someone's knocking at the door.

6. Gay-friendly straight women rock -- when they're not overdoing it in our clubs! You know the type: the beautiful fag hag who overcompensates for the fact that she's in a gay club where no one is interested in her by making herself the center of attention. She pushes her way to the front of the bar, tries to hook you up with her gay BFFs or tries to hook up with you herself, talks too loudly, dances too broadly, generally making me kind of understand some gay clubs' no-women-allowed policy. I once had a straight woman tell the bouncer at Beige in New York City that I slapped her after she tried to go diva on me and I told her to sit her ass down. He dismissed her a summarily as I did.

I can imagine Patrick's sister acting just like that after a few vodka tonics on a gay night out. She's an ultra-straight girl (What other kind would insist on a $40,000 wedding?) trying to prove how open-minded and accepting she is but being so overbearing about it. Just look at the way she marched over to Kevin and his boyfriend and announced that they should get married because she's never been to a gay wedding, like it's the hot "in" thing, the new black. What a great reason for us all to get hitched!

I much prefer Dom's friend Doris (Lauren Weedman, who is an appealing blend of Chelsea Handler, Lauren Graham and Whitney Cummings). She is perhaps the only character in the series with whom I'd want to spend a long weekend. She's 100 percent sugar free, telling it like it is with a dash of salt and a dollop of humor. She doesn't regard her straight life to be the main feature and gay lives to be the sidebars. She's genuinely interested in what's going on with Dom, but she's perfectly fine quietly observing the action from the sidelines, taking notes for her closing argument later. If the producers of Looking have learned any lessons from season one, I hope it's that season two could use even more Doris.

7. "Love Shack" must be stopped. When did a 1990 crossover hit by one of the hippest, quirkiest bands in music become a staple at what might be one of the unhippest, unquirkiest events imaginable: the straight wedding? Unfortunately, given what I used to hear every single Thursday night in the back bar at Glam in Buenos Aires ("Love Shack," of course), it's probably already a staple at gay weddings, too. Rusted indeed!

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