Sunday, September 24, 2006
My Sunday Feeling
The book section in the grocery store is located by the checkout aisle I was standing in yesterday. I noticed that one of the selections was "The Confession" by former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey. You might recall that McGreevey resigned from office in 2004 after admitting to a) being gay and b)having an affair with a man he had put on the state payroll. Oddly enough, Golan Cipel, the man McGreevey claims to have carried on with denies that he gay or that he had an affair with the former governor. This is despite the fact that Cipel's threat to hit McGreevey with a sexual harassment lawsuit is what blew the lid off of what had been widely whispered about behind closed doors in New Jersey for years.
I have not read McGreevey's book. Nor am I going to. Confessional literature is not exactly my cup of tea. Having said that, there's no denying that the best examples of this particular ouevre serve to inspire and instruct. After all, we can and do profit from the experiences of others. Each of us see that in our daily lives. However, the worst examples of this line of work tend to be pointless and narcissistic. At least it seems that way to me.
Based on what I have read and heard, you may find "The Confession" in the "Pointless and Narcissistic" section of your local bookstore. So I'm not going to read it and so today's rant doesn't pretend to be a review.
Like James Ellroy's hair-raising "My Dark Places" and Jim Carroll's equally depressing "Basketball Diaries" (both of which I did actually read) McGreevey tells us more than I would think most of us would want to know about his unseemly struggles as a closeted gay man. I am not gay and I certainly cannot imagine what it must feel like to hold yourself out as being a straight family man (he was married at that the time all of this hit the fan) much less serve as a public figure. But do we really need to be treated to the lurid details of furtive and anonymous sexual encounters in bookstores and other public places? Like behind a synagogue? In the name of "becoming whole" and "healing?" The following is a sentence I lifted from a review of the book. It speaks volumes about McGreevey's mindset:
"As glorious and meaningful as it would have been to have a loving and sound sexual experience with another man, I knew I'd have to undo my happiness step by step as I began chasing my dream of a public career and the kind of 'acceptable' life that went with it. So, instead, I settled for the detached anonymity of bookstores and rest stops-a compromise, but one that was wholly unfulfilling and morally unsatisfactory."
You notice-and this is where my narcissism radar went off- nowhere in that sentence did he say that what he did was wrong? Or dangerously crazy? Oh. Also it seems to me that is equally "morally unsatisfactory" to con 2 different women as to your sexual bona fides not to mention the entire electorate you would presume to serve.
It s one thing to have made mistakes. All of us, gay or straight, have done things that we would just as soon nobody ever knows about. All of us. And most of these things shouldn't be revealed to anyone other than your priest or your psychiatrist, if to anybody at all. But at this point in his history it is all about Jim McGreevey. No matter that the revelations in "My Confession" book might cause further suffering to his family or make his ex-wives feel even more foolish. Further, the man has daughters for chrissakes. Does he really want them to read about what the old man did to pass the time back when he was coming up in the world? Whither human dignity?
The Jim McGreevey story is neither inspirational or instructive. Which is why you may find "My Confession" in the "Pointless and Narcissistic" section of your local bookstore. Maybe I might come to a different conclusion if I were to actually read the goddamned thing. But I doubt it. I sincerely doubt it.