Because the old school gay is fast becoming the new modern man, AKA William theater contributor Ben Rimalower will, every Thursday, document exactly how, when, and where everything old becomes new again.
Straddling the line between old school showbiz cheesiness and contemporary short attention span whateverness, Ben is the New Old Gay. He loves Patti LuPone.
[Ed.: Because the site upgrades were being implemented over the past few days, this week's "The New Old Gay" was moved to today, Friday.]
I have always wanted children. I love playing with them. I love talking to them, but not down to them. I love the things they say. I’m fascinated and tickled and moved by the stuff they come up with. I’ve always felt this way. When I was five, my parents were very close with our neighbors on 17th Street, and my sister and I loved playing with their toddler. Even then, knee-high to a grasshopper myself, I happily assumed a nurturing role with a younger child. It was like playing house or playing with dolls – although completely unlike the Aaron Spelling-esque dramas I used to stage with my sister’s Barbies. In the years that followed, there was a succession of family friends’ little kids that I loved and was “good with.”
When I was 11, my brother was born and I was ecstatic. There’s no way to say it without sounding hyperbolic (and biased), but he really was the cutest child ever. My sister and I were immediately obsessed with him, not just as older siblings, but, owing to the sizeable age difference, almost as a second junior set of parents. Or, perhaps more accurately very, very young grandparents – you know, all the fun/none of the responsibility. We were constantly playing with him and spoiling him and dragging him around like a rag doll and belting showtunes in his face (but that’s a matter for his blog or therapist’s couch, should he choose to relive it . . . ).
Probably the best academic project I ever turned in was my 9th Grade Social Studies video interview with my then three-year old brother on the subject of God. The piece, if you will, is about twenty minutes long and is still absolutely hilarious today. From the mouths of babes, kids say the darndest things, yadda yadda yadda, you know the drill, and of course, my brother’s brilliance and aforementioned cuteness – did I tell you that he goes to Harvard? (See? Like a proud parent…) In the video, he describes Heaven and Hell and Fiddler on the Roof communicating with the deceased “in your heart” and, in my favorite moment, when I push him to admit that everyone dies:
ME: Even me?
THREE-YEAR-OLD BROTHER: In a long time.
ME: Even Mom & Dad?
THREE-YEAR-OLD BROTHER: (exasperated) In a long time.
ME: Even you?
THREE-YEAR-OLD BROTHER: (sternly) That’s not gonna happen for a long time, Benjie!
Anyway, besides my brother’s incredible wisdom and stunningly fully conceived worldview, the other take-away from the video is how plugged into my brother’s mind I was to be able to get so much out of him and how deeply invested I was in him, not only as a toy and karaoke audience/victim, but as a thinking, feeling individual human person.