Her Past. My Present.

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership. Lucky you. And. Hello, and welcome back to you. Take me to a little mood, I am your host, Danny Am Lavery, and with me in the studio this week is my dear friend Colette Arrand, a transsexual poet from Athens, Georgia. She’s the author of the poetry collection Hold Me Gorilla Monsoon and is the editor of Fanbyte, the wrestling section of Fanbyte Media Colette. Welcome to the show!

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S2: Hello, thank you.

S1: I feel very tempted to laugh at myself because not two minutes ago I was confident about two things, one of which was I wouldn’t have to ask you any questions about your bio, and the other was that I was sure you had been on the show before, when it was dear prudence. And now I’m not so sure about either of those things because I just realized I don’t know that I’ve ever said your last name out loud before. And I don’t know if I said it right?

S2: You didn’t. But that’s OK.

S1: That’s good. Good. This is one of my cherished time honored traditions is when I have dear friends on the show. I don’t pronounce their last names correctly. This was how I found out. I didn’t know Calvin’s last name last year. Oh, how do I pronounce your last name? Colette.

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S2: My last name is just pronounced Arrand like running one very simple but very difficult spelling.

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S1: Yeah, that’s sweet of you, I would say not that difficult. They were really just the two options. I went with one. I pursued my chosen path with confidence. You got the first right one. It would have been great. Yeah. I mean, that’s all I really care about.

S2: Most people would be for the first name.

S1: I feel great that I didn’t. And this is just like when I was a kid and I would come home and I would just be like, This is my new friend. We met on the playground and someone would say, What’s your new friend’s name? And I would say, I don’t understand the question, and this is my new friend. We have a cherished and longstanding intimacy as a result of the monkey bars. And I don’t know anything about them. I live in the moment.

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S2: What’s what more do you need?

S1: Where do you need? It’s like, No, we had a communion of the soul on the jungle gym. I didn’t, you know, bog it down in in pedantic details like, what’s your name? We had a we had a meeting of the souls. I am thrilled to have you here, not least because I want to learn something about wrestling today, and I hope that you can bring something of the spirit of WrestleMania into the project of trying to give advice. I hope that you’re willing to do so.

S2: I’ll be glad to.

S1: I know almost nothing about wrestling, except for the sort of like ambient sense that it existed during my childhood because I grew up in the 90s and I was like, Sometimes when I’m flipping the channels, I’ll see something about wrestling and I keep going. But that’s it. Like, That’s all I know. So I’m curious if you have a sense of like what aspect of wrestling you would like to bring into your advice today.

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S2: I think that what I would like to bring into it is the understanding that what wrestling is is really a contemplation of the soul. That’s what professional wrestling is to me, it is a contemplation of the human condition. Maybe a little bit less patience than that normally suggests, but enough we’re grappling with things we’re wrestling with with. People’s emotions with people’s problems, and you have to bring a sort of attention to that, and that is what professional wrestling is to me,

S1: that is truly beautiful. I guess I actually can no longer say that I’ve never watched wrestling because a few weeks ago, I I met a friend at the airport, which something I haven’t done in quite some time. And I looked after her, her kids, while she was getting the luggage and I ate her kids. I love her kids. I’ve seen her kids many a time. They were playing a brand new game that I had never known them to play before, where in one of them would say, hit me as hard as you can. And the other would comply. And then they would both cackle hysterically. And then it turned into like a pile driving and wrestling when like you put out your elbow and you jump up theatrically and then you land elbow first on the other person’s back,

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S2: and that’s just the elbow drop. But it is a beautiful move. It’s a beautiful, time honored tradition.

S1: They were doing elbow drops, and I just want to stress whenever I’ve spent time with these kids before, they’re always like reading or talking about like a TV show that they like or like taking a walk. Like, never in my life have I seen them do this. And all of a sudden, because it was just me looking after them in a public space, they were just like pile drive screaming with laughter. And I was just like, You guys got to start this. This is this. You can’t do this. They’re just like, I don’t know what to tell you, man, you don’t work here. And everyone just looked at me like, Wow, you’re really, really bad parents. I was just trying to say things like, Boy, when your mom gets back, it’s not my wife. She’ll sure have something to say about this, which affected the not at all. And that’s my experience with wrestling, which is a beautiful experience. They know it. It’s sort of like how they all know Miss Mary Mack. Like, no one has to teach them the information just like it’s downloaded into their brain one night.

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S2: Yeah, it’s in the marrow, it’s in the marrow.

S1: It’s their it’s their kid generation to kids generation. So with the spirit of whatever that is in mind, I will read our first letter and we will try to advise someone. The subject is jealous, girlfriend. I’ve been dating an amazing woman for almost eight months and it’s the longest I’ve ever been with one person. She’s only been in exclusive relationships before and has loved two other women besides me. I know it’s completely unreasonable, but this makes me sick with jealousy. She’s romantic, considerate, treats me well and never acts like she’s thinking about anyone else. She’s always been monogamous. She feels lucky to be with me, even though I’m the lucky one. So what’s wrong with me? She makes me feel like the most important woman in the world, and all I can think about is how she must have made her other girlfriends feel the same way. Why should it matter that she’s been in love before? It’s not like I want her to have, quote, waited for true love or anything. I slept around before I got into this relationship, but everything we do for each other is personal and meaningful. Whether romantic or sexual and her having loved other people this way is driving me bonkers. I can’t imagine them ever getting over her when she treated them like this. I’m just saying enough to understand that this is creepy and unreasonable, but just crazy enough to feel jealous anyway. Please talk some sense into me so that I don’t ruin the best thing that ever happened to me. Well, that little ending that’s like Treehouse of Horror is like poor. You go too crazy for boys down too much of a boy for Crazy Town. Did you find anything about this particular conundrum like it? Did it surprise you? Did it seem like, yes, I can understand how a person might feel this way? Did it feel like I’ve never felt anything like this? This sounds really strange. How did it strike you? I.

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S2: OK, so when I read this, I tried to kind of put myself in the shoes of the person who wrote it. And while I was doing it, like I was kind of observing the significant other and considering her previous exes and kind of what I came to the conclusion of was that this is kind of a case of projection a little bit, which is something that I can identify with. It’s certainly something that I’ve done in the past. It’s something I’ll probably do in the future, but I don’t know. There was something a little bit heavy to me about the idea of focusing on how the significant other treated the exes, which is the relationship that that that the writer doesn’t know, right? Like, they weren’t there. Like, I hope they weren’t there. That would be not for the best for anyone involved, but you know, you don’t know how that relationship impacted your significant other, and you certainly can’t compare your relationship to those prior relationships. That’s kind of what leapt off the page to me on on first and second reading was you really can’t do this to yourself. Like you can’t bring this baggage into your relationship will willingly because it won’t leave like it, just it’s going to stick.

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S1: Yeah, I think if, if nothing else, this letter maybe shed a little bit of light on why there was like such a strange run of movies and books over like, I don’t know, like a ten or fifteen year period of like the Time Traveler’s Wife for the Time Traveler’s Daughter. It’s the weird media properties where the premise was just like men time travel so that they can date their wife at every stage of her life. And it sort of is like, Oh, I guess this is kind of the target audience, which is somebody whose jealousy doesn’t exist in the here and now, but like forwards or backwards throughout time. Like, it’s one thing to have you here with me now. But I also now would like to go back in time and like, replace your exes with me.

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S2: Yeah, it’s very Star Trek.

S1: It’s very Star Trek. Yeah, I can absolutely see this being a subplot on on a number of different Star Trek shows. But you know, the good news certainly is that this letter writer is like aware this is not a good thing. I’m not proud of this. I don’t think this is a reasonable way to feel. I don’t think that there’s any reasonable way that I could even express this, such that I could like, ask for something from my partner or myself. So it’s I appreciate that level of self-awareness. So that is, I think, you know, that’s a good place to start. The letter writer is not like thinking this is an appropriate way to feel or I should tell my partner that she should, like, you know, disavow her ex-girlfriends in a ceremony tonight so that we can truly be together. Like, there’s no. I didn’t read this and get like a sense of, Oh no, you’re about to do like a Phantom of the Opera thing where you write carrier girlfriend down to the Paris catacombs.

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S2: Yeah, I didn’t get that sense either. I just I kind of got a sense of longing, I guess, but like for understanding as opposed to like the person herself. It’s, uh, it’s an interesting remove from the actual like relationship, like it’s like one or two steps distant from what’s actually going on. And I think that like what what I would have liked to have seen or, you know, maybe, maybe not what I like would have liked. We’ve seen because that’s kind of the issue here. But like specifically, how does the girlfriend make the person who wrote this letter feel? I feel like it’s something that is missing from this like. And if there was that core to it, I mean, there’s like, you know, vague inferences into it. But like, you know, what is it that causes these feelings like being able to focus on the good of that as opposed to the good of these relationships that you did not know? Because, you know, regardless of whatever, like what does what does it mean like to imagine that these people wouldn’t be able to get over a relationship with her? Like, that’s not good. Like, that’s either putting yourself in their shoes when the relationship is over or that’s like trying to imagine some like weird revenge fantasy that that can’t possibly exist into the ether. And I, yeah, I want this person to be able to focus on on the good of this relationship as opposed to the good of relationships that they haven’t experienced.

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S1: Yeah, I do think, by the way, that the kind of key to what you’re discussing right now is in the first letter or the first sentence. Rather, this is the longest I’ve ever been with one person. I think that’s where this is coming from. You know, the letter writer does, you know, she does say, like, my girlfriend treats me really well. She she always acts like presents. You know, she’s she never seems like she’s thinking about somebody else and she’s romantic. So I do feel like not necessarily that I have the most detailed sense of what their day to day relationship is like. But I do have an overall sense of like, my girlfriend is not giving me cause to think that she is like regretting the loss of those past relationships or that she’s living in the past. And so I really think what this is coming down to is this is the longest I’ve ever been with one person. So I don’t know what it’s like to have been in another semi long term medium term relationship with somebody else exclusively and then to break up and then to move on. And so, letter writer, it seems like kind of what you’re doing is like all I have to compare this to is is itself right. Like, I only know this relationship and this relationship, I’m head over heels. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I feel not only lucky, I feel a little nervous that like, I’m getting away with something. Or, you know, one day my my girlfriend might wake up and realize that I’m too crazy, too unreasonable and not worthy of her. And then I will have lost her. And I think that it’s that combination of some sense of I’m not quite sure I deserve my girlfriend. And then also, I’ve never experienced anything like this before that is causing you to sort of like, maybe like preemptively protect yourself against a fear of loss by saying, I’ll bet her last couple of girlfriends felt the exact same way. They felt this deliriously happy. They felt this wildly lucky. They felt like they had, you know, caught a falling star and put it in their pocket. And so obviously, when they lost her, it must have been the great bolt that fell across their lives. And they must be at least on some level thinking like my life will never be this good again, because that’s how I would feel, because I’m so happy with her and I’ve never dated anyone seriously. And so letter writer, I think that is what is leading you down. That path of like this is awful. This is like a harbinger of what is to come for me. Like, that’s that’s going to be my future. She loved them in the same way that she loves me. We were all interchangeable, totally transferable, as if, like, we were just like different, unknown variables in a math problem. You could swap any of us out for the other. The fact that she had been in a serious relationship before means that I’m just another in a long line of, you know, nobody’s basically who just exist as a placeholder for her amazing ability to demonstrate love. And one of these days I will get exchanged out for the next one, and I think that’s where this fear is coming from.

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S2: I completely agree. I that was the first thing that I wrote about it was that the sounds a little bit like being new to a significant romantic engagement. And that is that is inescapable like that is, you know, something that you have to get used to, even if you have been in a significant romantic engagement before, just because people are in relationships. And I think, you know, just to kind of reiterate like, you know, people are not matt variables that can be swapped out. They’re like two individuals coming together, multiple individuals coming together, like you form unique couplings, you for many groups. That’s what’s powerful and awesome about relationships. And the best thing about this one is that it did not exist in the other ones.

S1: Yeah, yeah. And I think also there’s that sense of like if I never wanted anything more serious than like presumably a sort of fun or casual sexual relationship with anyone else until I met her, then there’s that association of like, of course, you wouldn’t want to do any of these things unless you were head over heels for somebody else. But, you know, letter writer, I just really want to stress all I can think about is how she made the other girlfriends feel the same way. You know, when you are inclined to tell yourself that story, do what you can to remind yourself that you actually have no idea how those girlfriends felt that there is a wide. Variety of human experience is that it is possible to have and it may be that the things that make you feel like, you know, the spotlight of the gods is shining down upon you simply felt like pretty nice to somebody else. Or maybe they had a great beginning. And then later things fizzled out for a variety of reasons, you know you can’t really speak to. I would just really caution you against thinking like, because this thing is new to me. This must be what it has felt like for everyone else. And then in addition to like trying to remind yourself of, like, you know, be careful about universalize in your own experiences, I would encourage you to maybe talk about this a little bit with your girlfriend, but maybe also with some friends, preferably also friends who have maybe been in a couple of different romantic relationships and say This is new. One of the things that’s kind of surprised me is how, you know, since I have nothing to compare this to, I’ve been really like making a lot of strange assumptions about her exes and how they must have felt the exact same way and how none of them could have gotten over breaking up. And I’m just wondering, like, does that make? Did you feel that in your first serious relationship? Did that come up for you? Did you notice it eventually changed once you’d been with someone a longer time? Like, try to get a sense of other people’s like interior experiences in their first serious relationship so that you have a wider basis of comparison?

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S2: Yeah. And I think to like one, one more thing that I would add to that is that the more that we’ve spoken about this, the less it really sounds like jealousy and the more it sounds like fear. Hmm. Um, like just like a fear of like potential loss of this relationship, and you had mentioned something like that earlier and something that I’ve learned a lot over the last year and a half two years is that you can’t really pre-game for for loss. Like, the only thing that it’s going to do is make it more present in the now. So, you know, again, like talk to your friends about it. But by the same token, like try, try not to identify or think too much about these people who’ve experienced the end of this relationship, like you’re not in their shoes, you don’t want to put yourself in their shoes, you want to live for the moment. If I can use a cliche so you know, don’t don’t bet on loss, like don’t think cataclysmically think about what’s good now and continue to build on that into the future.

S1: Yeah, I really appreciate all that. And I also hope that someday you write like a wrestling themed self-help book called Don’t Pre-game Loss, I was like, Yeah, you know, and I would say, you know, I know I stress letter writer that I think you should discuss some of this with your friends. Also think you can mention it to your girlfriend, but I really think to do so broadly, rather than like to ask for her to like, address any of this on your behalf is the way to go. So just like if you want to say, you know, I love our relationship, as you know, this is my first serious relationship, and so I don’t have a lot to compare it to. And sometimes I, you know, find myself kind of taken aback by how how much I assume that your other girlfriends must have felt the exact same way that I do. And they must never have gotten over you and I find myself experiencing like insecurity and jealousy. I think that’s a little goofy, and I just wanted you to know, not because you have to like, fix it or promise me that they don’t still call you. I just like, I want you to know about my interior experience. That would be the most I would like recommend sharing with her on that front. And, you know, I don’t know. I remember the first time that I was like, in love with somebody who is in love with me, and I was, you know, 17, as opposed to some newsletter writers, probably like mid late 20s, somewhere, somewhere, thereabouts. And I definitely was like, Oh, the love of my life had a girlfriend, sophomore year of high school, and we’re in our junior year. I can’t believe I missed that. You know, like, I’m so jealous of every experience that this person has ever had. I want to be all things to them now and forever. And so, you know, I definitely remember feeling that way. It happened a little earlier in my life, but that was definitely something that I strongly associated with my first love, which was just like this intense mixture of like jealousy and ambition that sometimes felt a little phantom of the opera, which was just like, I want to be all things to you. And like, you know, it happens. It’s not. It’s not unheard of. And it sounds like you still have a pretty good grip on reality letter writer. So I wouldn’t worry too much. The only thing I would really caution you against is, like, you say that like her, having loved other people this way is driving me bonkers. I think that line kind of feels like that would be the thing that I would caution you the most against is this sense of like, if she was capable of loving anyone else, then that must mean that it is exactly the same as the way that she loves me. Which then must mean that the way she loves me is kind of meaningless. And so again, I think there’s some fear there that’s potentially leading you to try to preemptively guard yourself against this fear of loss, which is just like, well, her love is so great. But if she was able to love somebody else? Then it must not be that special, and therefore I need to find ways to distance myself from it or mistrust it. And I would I would encourage you not to do that. It does not mean that she treated every acts of hers in the exact same way or had the same feelings of love. Like, you know, it’s not a perfect comparison, but like if you think about some of the closest friends that you have had over the years, presumably you can imagine, like there are some themes to the things that you do with your closest friends, whether that’s like take road trips or like have late night conversations about your feelings or like, give each other like meaningful birthday presents, whatever that might look similar from friendship to friendship, but didn’t mean that you thought of each of those friends as like interchangeable pawns that you were simply like doing a series of rituals in order to extract something from. So I would encourage you in those moments. Maybe try to think of this more along the lines of sleep that you already have experienced, which is like, No, I don’t wildly change up my like friendship courtship stage whenever I meet somebody new that I would like to become friends with. But neither does it mean that I’m just like going through the motions or like, it’s meaningless.

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S2: Our next letter has the subject L, B or Q, I want to identify as a lesbian as I genuinely have no romantic or sexual interest in men, but friends have pointed out correctly that I’ve had positive relationships with boyfriends in the past. I really cared for them and it’s not like they forced me into anything. It was nice to feel close to someone, but passively pursuing women is something I actively engage in. These friends are also gay and it made me stop and think about appropriation. I just don’t want to have sex with men anymore. I realize that doesn’t mean I can’t be bisexual, though. Would it be inappropriate to identify as a lesbian? And if so, how do I talk about it with people without perpetuating the idea that lesbians can be with men if they try hard enough? I don’t believe they should try at all, but it sounds like such a relief to know I’m attracted to the person I’m dating or sleeping with.

S1: I love this letter writer, and I’m so sorry that her friends are being pills. Yeah, I’m definitely not a lesbian, so, you know, I want to throw that out of the way first. I’m a boy. I have, you know, I don’t know, like a lesbian minor in college. I have many, I don’t know, spiritual lesbian cousins. Sometimes we, you know, visit the borderlands and throw notes over the fence. But I’m not one myself.

S2: I don’t think that I can call myself a lesbian either. But you know, same as you. I might add in college, so to speak. And, you know, I have felt over time like my own sexual preference is shifting from one extreme to the middle to the other extreme back to the middle, like it flows back and forth. And you know, I think that as as a consequence, like what we’re dealing with here is kind of like a classic millennial. If the writer is a millennial conundrum, which is to say like what? What word you can use to describe yourself with. And, yeah, I don’t know, I felt a little bit of myself in it, I also felt a little bit of like myself, like her. I’m looking at this letter writers, friends, there’s a lot, there’s a lot here. It’s not a big letter, but there’s a lot in it.

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S1: So yeah, and I like the idea that all of us are like, you know, thinking about or trying to conceptualize ideas about lesbianism from like different vantage points of like adjacency. And so I just I love the idea of like all of a sudden like an excavation team. And it’s like, now I’m not one. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There’s like over here you’ll see remains of a wall that once marked the border between like these two countries. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, bear in mind, letter writer, that you are talking to two people who don’t call themselves lesbians. And so that will potentially influence the type of advice that we give you. But yeah, I mean, I think. If I am extending the best possible, most generous reading to your friends, I think they’re being a little silly. And if I don’t extend to them the best possible good faith, I think they’re kind of being shits like. The idea that like the barrier for first of all, is calling yourself a lesbian is free. It’s legal. You know what I mean? Like, even if nobody else in the world agrees with you, you have the right to do it. Like you might get in a lot of arguments with people, but like, go for it. So you don’t need your friend’s permission in order to do so. But beyond that, like this, this supposed expectation that they have, which is not merely I don’t want to sleep with men, I do want to sleep with women. I want to date women. I want to be like exclusive with women in the future. But I don’t wish every guy I’d ever dated is dead or think of him as like a rapist. Like, that’s the bar. What? What in the world? Like the implication that I felt like I got in that letter was because I was not forced into these relationships at gunpoint and because I don’t like hate these guys. I was like, Why on Earth? Like, if anything, I feel like a meaningful definition of lesbian has to do with like positive feelings about women rather than negative feelings about people that you don’t want to be with, right? Like, I don’t feel like that’s usually a set of like rubrics that we apply to other identities. And so it feels a little weird to me that your friends are like no lesbianism is primarily about like rejection or hating what you don’t want or AB during your past, as opposed to like something that speaks to the kind of communities and relationships that you want to be a part of.

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S2: Mm hmm. And besides which, if we’re talking about lesbianism is a thing that requires that be lesbian has never had sex with a man before, then you’re racing the vast majority of lesbians from world history. It just it doesn’t work like that’s not how it works. It doesn’t work that way in our fiction. It doesn’t work that way on our history. Like it’s just, you know, lesbians have slept with, been in long term relationships with been married to had children with men for, you know, decade upon decade, upon decade, upon decade upon decade. And if it seems like that’s like no longer a requirement or no longer true of the lesbian community, I would suggest that your friends maybe don’t know enough lesbians, which might sound a little bit mean. But if they’re willing to prescribe to you, then shoe on the other foot like, let’s let’s get a little bit real here. Like things are hard out there for queer people. They have been. Historically, the word beard does not exist for no reason, and it doesn’t just describe facial hair. So your friends need to cut you some slack. They don’t even to cut you some slack. They need to leave you alone because I feel

S1: like get a grip.

S2: Yeah, yeah. They need to get a grip on their own insecurity about their queerness. Like, because that’s where this is coming from. Like your nervousness about claiming the word lesbian, which I’m just going to go ahead and say that you should like, you’re asking whether or not you’re a lesbian. The same way that when a trans woman asks, Am I a trans woman? She’s a trans woman. If you ask whether or not you’re a lesbian, you’re probably a lesbian. You should just take the word and run with it. Because you know what? It’s cool. It might be the coolest sounding word on the entire acronym, so congratulations. But your friends need to chill the hell out because yeah, because it sounds like they’re in the way of this realization for you at the moment.

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S1: And like again, it just it really strikes me as like what they want is to make this about like a litmus test or like a process of elimination or ex politics. Yeah, which is just like, I don’t think that’s interesting, useful laboratory or sexy, all of which hopefully would at least be like some things that you would want to include in your particular, like sexual identity formation, you know, like three

S2: percent of it at least

S1: like, yeah, the idea like again, it’s like, is the word useful to you because you’re the person, you’re the person. That’s a word. So you by by virtue of being a person are more important than a word. Does the word serve you rather than the other way around? And like, does it describe your desires, your ambitions, your plans and your hopes? Yes. So the idea that like, sorry, like you can only call yourself bisexual if remembering your high school boyfriend makes you want to vomit, just like who does that serve? Like, how is that meaningful information for somebody that you would be like would want to go on a date with or like Cruz at a club or like start a group together like it just doesn’t. So I think that’s a really backwards and foolish way of looking at it and like, I don’t usually like to do like, imagine if it were this other situation, but like when I compare it to transition, like the idea that somebody would say, like, you couldn’t be a trans man if you didn’t hate every second of your life before you transitioned, which to be clear, no one’s ever said that to me. I would say that’s a very silly idea of what transition is like that that makes no sense to me. Why? Why on earth would life work like that? And again, you know, not that it’s a one to one like transitive property thing where like. You can just scoot that idea over, but I think the principle is generally the same, which is just like your friends are being at best silly. I think to you like that the line about I realized that doesn’t mean I can’t be bisexual. And I think some of the like implicit idea there is like. I don’t even know if I’m on the right path with this one, but sort of like I don’t want to erase bisexuals, like is it incumbent on me to like, call myself bisexual just because I could? And just like again, the word should serve you, not the other way around. You do not need to worry on an individual level about whether or not you are quote unquote contributing to by a or whatever. If the word bisexual doesn’t bring you like, I don’t know, some delight interest, joy, a sense of being like understood. Don’t use it. It’s not a good word for you. It doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to or you’re banned, but you don’t. It’s these words are not obligations. Words should be tools.

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S2: Yeah, I feel like taking on bisexual would almost be worse for the letter writer than taking on the word lesbian. It would not fit and it would be appropriating.

S1: Yeah. You know why? Because the letter starts with I want to identify as a lesbian. Mm hmm. And then ends with it sounds like a relief to know that I’m attracted to the people I’m dating, i.e. women. And it’s just like, you should use the word lesbian all the time loudly and pointedly when your stupid friends are around until they get over themselves.

S2: Yeah, exactly. And like what? Like, I don’t even know if these friends are lesbians. In all honesty, it’s just as gay. And that’s one of the one of the things about the words that we have to describe ourselves is that they are very, very vague at best. So if these are dudes telling you this like they, they really need to back down. That’s not they’re not helping at all. But I wanted to bring in one piece that we hadn’t really talked about a little bit, which was in this letter, she says. How do I talk about it by meaning identifying as a lesbian with people without perpetuating the idea that lesbians can be with men if they try hard enough? And the thing that I would like to say to that very, very quickly is you do not owe anybody that you’re talking to a sexual history, like if this is not an imagined conversation with the friends that are in this, like if they’re not in the room, having this conversation with you and it’s like a stranger or whatever that shouldn’t come up, they don’t need to know. Like, you don’t need to tell somebody I’m a lesbian. But in my past, I have had sex with men before. Like, that’s. Whatever like that has no bearing on your life as a lesbian periods.

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S1: I’m so glad that you brought that up because yeah, that may be very like if anyone has ever said that or implied that to you, letter writer. I’m so sorry they were being monstrous. And if it’s simply a sort of free floating anxiety that you have because people have already been sort of weird on the subject, you know, let me just either way, let me give you permission to not worry about that. You are not perpetuating an idea about lesbians. You’re living your fucking life. Like if you were going around saying to someone who had just come out to you as a lesbian. Well, if you try really hard, you could marry a man. I would advise you not to say that, but if you’re simply like, I’m going to go to a gay bar, I’m going to, you know, post a dating ad saying, I’m looking to date other lesbians. None of that is perpetuating anything that’s just using words and trying to go out with people. But yet if you are worried that like if someone knows that I’m a lesbian and they’re also like, I remember she dated a guy in college and they seem to get along, OK, and she doesn’t, you know, wish him death with a bow and arrow. That must mean that lesbians should be harassed into, like dating men. That person is deranged and doing something totally, totally unreasonable. You have not caused anything, you know, again, just like. I think it kind of goes hand in hand sometimes with this idea of like anyone. Who is gay? Must like throw up at the thought of the opposite sex, and it’s just like some people have like intense aversion and like revulsion, some people don’t like it. It’s not. I just really, really want to stress, like there are so many different ways to be gay and still feel like, yeah, that was fine, I don’t want to do it again, but like it was, you know, Robert was nice. Like, that does not mean that you are less gay than somebody else or that you are like secretly about to go like data straight gay again. It just means you like, I don’t know, like you were like, This is fine, but you know, it’s great dating women. Like, that’s gay, too. That’s just as gay as like, I only date women, and if I see a man I like turn briefly into a toad, like, it’s not about this level of revulsion. Again, it’s about like you want to be with women. But like, literally, lesbianism is about how you feel about women, not how you feel about men.

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S2: Yeah, yeah, I like doing. Living oppositional is no way to live. I would. I would definitely like I said this earlier, but just claim the word like, take the word for yourself, because I think that what that’s going to do for you is give you like something to hold on to and feel confident about, which might make you more confident in situations where people are challenging your sex sexuality like you describe later on in your letter.

S1: Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s it, also send your friends back our way and we will yell at them, please.

S2: Yeah, I got no problem yelling at them.

S1: I love yelling at people. It’s one of my favorite things.

S2: Huge fan. That’s why I watch wrestling.

S1: I say that, but I actually. Don’t yell hardly, I’ve never heard you yell. I like the idea of yelling, I am from the Midwest, I don’t yell. It’s not a bad blood. I think that’s all I have on that letter. But yeah, what about you? What’s the what’s the last time you either yelled at someone that felt really good or heard a good yelling?

S2: The last time I actually yelled at someone, I think I yelled at a student once because they had pursued me down the hallway to debate me as to whether or not Adolf Hitler was a good person. And I yelled at them not to tell them that they were wrong because me telling him he was wrong, prepared, like started this debate.

S1: Sure.

S2: But to tell him that I didn’t have any office hours today as I slammed the door off its face,

S1: that is the gentlest yelling I can possibly imagine.

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S2: Yeah, that was the last semester I taught a class, though, so maybe he won. He might have won that argument, but yeah, it was a poetry I did. But like the way that it works when you’re a graduate student is that they they shuffle you. Actually, that was a poetry class.

S1: Oh no.

S2: Oh, it wasn’t a lie because they won like one semester. They’ll have you do basic writing the next semester they’ll have you do basic writing and then like something that’s actually in your field. That was a creative writing class. I had some very talented people in there who never wrote another sentence once they got out of my class. And that kid was not one of them. But yeah, no, he he took it upon themselves. I think that I was like talking about like the villain in someone’s story and was just like, you know, you don’t have to be so obvious, like your character doesn’t have to be Hitler, like, etc., etc. And he was like, Well, Hitler wasn’t actually a villain. Fantastic comment. So class kind of stopped as we all talked about whether or not Hitler was the film, which is in favor in favor of villain like 11 to one. And then, yeah, I got into a shouting match with this kid because otherwise I would have gotten in trouble. Like, You can’t, you can’t, you know, he pays my paycheck. So you got to be nice. I bet.

S1: He said that at some point during the debate,

S2: probably or in my like, what do you call them? The comments that you give the professors at the end of the year should have been, should have been nicer. I paid her paycheck. I wouldn’t have been. Yeah, that’s the.

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S1: Well, I definitely know I’m not going to be able to top that, even if I can’t think of the last time I yelled at anybody. So I’m just going to let that one go. Talk to me a little bit about working as now. Like, would you close with like a professional wrestling commentator? Like, what? How would you describe your your new job?

S2: I would call myself a professional wrestling critic. Like in the same vein as like a film critic or a music critic or a television critic. Professional wrestling, though it is on television and there’s a kind of live performance like exists separately on its own plane. And there’s a lot of focus on like the news that comes out of wrestling, but like not as much on, you know, like the way that the narrative kind of shapes the conversations that we have, as you know, Americans or citizens of the world or whatever. And that is what I find so interesting about wrestling and so relevant about it. So I would I would call myself a critic more than anything and an editor. But when I’m writing it as a critic, that

S1: makes a lot of sense. I assume, presumably because a commentator is somebody who is like attempting to describe like technical aspects of a match like as it’s going on. Whereas a critic is somebody who is like more interested in talking about like trends or personalities, or I’m quickly running out of words that I know apply to wrestling because I just really want to stress like, I don’t know things about sports and I don’t know wrestling.

S2: What do you want to know about it? I’m down to teach you anything that you want to know about it, so long as I can actually answer the question.

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S1: Is there a season like is there an on off season?

S2: No, that is one of the big problems with wrestling. Is that as a fifty two week a year endeavor, like it is a grueling schedule when there’s not COVID, there are there can be anywhere between two to three shows per week that are not on television. So like these wrestlers are getting beaten up like. Crazy, like it’s so hard to kind of explain to someone who doesn’t know, but like wrestling is a is is a horrifyingly physical endeavor like, you know, your your life can be changed by any time, like your body hits the mat or whatever, and they have to do it 52 weeks a year. Essentially, there are breaks like Christmas is usually when there’s like a couple of days off, but like they’ll be wrestling on December 23rd and then December 26, 27, 28, 29, 30th, 31st and January 1st. Like they don’t take time off, which results in a lot of injuries. So no, no off season.

S1: I was going to ask Daniel to like, I have a general sense, like growing up in the 90s were sort of like the most I would catch about. The conversation about wrestling was like, Is it fake? Is it not fake? So I have some sense of like there is an element of like theatricality to it, but it also does seem pretty like physically intense such that like even if it’s not like untethered from like planning, it’s not as if you just like, go around like it’s still, I guess my question is just like, what? What is the injury rate like? Like, is it the sort of thing where people are getting a lot of head injuries? Is it the sort of thing where people are getting a lot of like like how much of it do you know is planned versus just like hope for the best?

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S2: So to kind of like go to the to the beginning of it. Wrestlers go to school to learn how to wrestle. And it’s very much the same as like dance class, even though I don’t think that many people make that bet on, you know, compare that to, you know, you go to ballet class or you go to tap class to like learn the choreography of what you want to do, right? And the same is true of wrestling, where you where you not only learn how to fall, but you learn how to take wrestling moves. So like a pile driver, you would learn how to take a pile driver, which is good, because if you didn’t, someone would be dropping you on your neck with no protection. But when you’re talking about the protection of a pile driver, which is a move where somebody hoists you up like and has your head between their legs and then falls back into a seated position and smashes it down under the mat, if you mess up the protection of the pile driver by a millimeter, you can break someone’s neck. So there is not a lot of space between. Wrestling is safe and wrestling is horrifically dangerous. The injury rate it’s hard to tell because there is so much shrouded in like the kind of fake real divide, like is this person out for like an injury that they created or is this person out because they hurt themselves? Or does this person have a real concussion or they have a fake concussion? Ultimately, it is extremely hard to know and is almost better. Like, that’s that’s something that I leave for the news, guys, because like, they can actually handle that sort of depressive picking apart of what’s going on. But for me, it’s just like, I can’t handle another guy with a concussion, like, I’ve had concussions. They’re not great. I like, you know, welcome to the club. But at the same time, like, this is a kind of grim club, dude. So like, protect your neck next time you’re out there. But yeah, that’s that’s kind of the way it is. It’s like, you can’t always tell because you’re not supposed to as a fan.

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S1: Yeah, yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Are there any other wrestling critics that you would recommend? I learned, by the way, in research for this episode that Roland Bart wrote about wrestling at some point in the 50s, and yeah, I got to check that one out.

S2: He shared his essay about wrestling is in the collection mythologies. It’s the first essay in the anthology. I remember reading this I say, like, you know, seven years ago, very, very well. I actually find that he’s an incredible critic of a lot of things that go into wrestling. Like his camera lucida was very informative to me as far as critics that I would suggest. I think that people like Robert Nuzum, who has run these in the atomic elbow for 10 years, he has fostered an incredible amount of talent over the past decade or so, and his own writing is great. Like, he talks about things that happened when he was like seven years old and like these like sprawling, like 14000 word articles that like will go into like discourses on like the commercials that happen during like match breaks and stuff like that. Like, he’s he’s amazing. Otherwise, I would suggest looking at my website Fanbyte or Fanbyte, the wrestling section of Fanbyte, because I’m putting together the collection of wrestling critics out there that I would I would have loved to have seen at any point in time during my love and fandom of pro wrestling.

S1: The sounds genuinely exciting, and if anything gets me into reading like a lot of wrestling criticism, it’s going to be you. So. That feels very, very exciting. When did your kind of. I obviously, I have seen the behind the scenes machinations that have taken you out of your former day jobs and into writing about wrestling full time. But like, do you remember a particular time when you realized you were sort of moving from like a casual fan of wrestling to like a seasoned amateur enthusiast to like, Oh, I could maybe make a living doing this?

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S2: Um, I would say that I moved from fan to somebody involved in the profession when I became a play by play announcer. And I think 2010, maybe 2011, where I worked for a company in Cleveland called Absolute Intense Wrestling, which had a roster full of people who have since gone on to be serious players in WWE and A.W., which are like the two biggest companies in the country right now. Um, I I left them to come to Georgia to get a degree in poetry. But before I did that, I won a poetry contest and took the money and spent it on wrestling school like a whole, like how much tuition I wanted. Theoretically, I could go back like tomorrow and be like, Hey, I paid this much money, like seven years ago. Like, what’s up? But I got a concussion on day one, like two hours and probably got more like the concussion, worse and worse because I wouldn’t stop, even though I was like throwing up a bunch. It was pretty gnarly, but like doing that allowed me to write an essay that got me into the University of Georgia, and it was also published by the establishment. If you remember that

S1: publication, I do.

S2: Yeah, that was my first paid piece of writing, and I kept finding ways after that to write about wrestling in a way that would get me paid. And it was slow and it was whatever but like. Along with that, and like a couple of pieces for Star Trek XCOM about Star Trek, I started figuring out like, hey, like I could actually kind of make it as a cultural critic if I like applied myself really hard to one field. And that one field that was really natural was was just wrestling. So, you know, 2019 I got hired to be a critic at Fanbyte, and then last year I became the editor of this, or this year I became the editor of the S. So like, it worked. It happened. It took time, but it did.

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S1: And I just I’m going to be forever grateful to you for just putting the image off, like I used my poetry scholarship to get into wrestling. I just only you, only you. But I hope someday many, many more than you. I hope you kick open up. Feel the new genre of less.

S2: Can Colette

S1: exist? Yeah. Fewer, fewer concussions and more. I don’t know sustenance.

S2: More sustainable, more sustainable.

S1: How you pronounce it, I know how you pronounce anything. All right.

S2: Go Justino

S1: Colette. Thank you as always for being a gem and a delight to all the lesbians we tried to help today. I hope we were helpful. You’re great. You’re doing great. And if anyone listening is either a firefighter or a fire, look out or get in touch. Thank you for joining us on big mood, a little mood with me. Danny Lavery, our producer, is Phil Surkis, who also composed our theme music. Don’t miss an episode of the show. Head to Slate.com slash mood to sign up to subscribe or hit the Subscribe button on whatever platform you’re using right now. Thanks. Also, if you can, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. We’d love to know what you think. If you want more big mood, little mood, you should join Slate Plus Slate’s membership program members get an extra episode of Big Mood A Little Mood every Friday, and you’ll get to hear more advice and conversations with the guest. And as a Slate Plus member, you’ll also be supporting the show. Go to Slate.com Forward Slash Mood Plus to sign up. It’s just $1 for your first month. If you’d like me to read your letter on the show, maybe need a little advice, maybe some advice. Head to Slate.com slash mood to find our big mood, a little mood listener question form or find a link in the description on the platform you’re using right now. Thanks for listening! And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday. What did you love when you were five? What was your what was your favorite thing?

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S2: Pro wrestling? I loved it, which is a kind of job. That’s a job people hold.

S1: Yeah. Did you have like a sense when you were five of like? I mean, presumably you were like dimly aware, like adults go to their jobs during the day. But like, did you think much about the idea of a job? I don’t think I did it.

S2: I don’t think that I did either. Even though I think like looking back on it now, it’s like school was our job. Like, we had to go to school from blank to blank to give our parents time to go to their job. I don’t remember what time you show up to school, like eight to three. Something like that. Something stupid, too early.

S1: Yeah, way too early.

S2: Too early now. Like, who wants an eight a.m. job now?

S1: Wolf to listen to the rest of that conversation joined Slate Plus, now at Slate.com forward slash mood.