Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

23 August 2011

Thanksgiving in August: Rae

When Rae and I met I braced myself. Later she and I talked about it and she told me she had done the same. We were both afraid we were going to hate each other on sight. It didn't happen. It's funny to me how, in so many ways, we were sensing each other's vibes before we ever encountered one another – like the mayor of that city in that Artaud essay about the plague. And then when we met, more than anything else, we were intrigued by one another.


I was directing Rae in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream that year, and she designed the costumes - putting everyone in American Apparel. I loved it. She adorned herself, as Titania, in a gold lamé two-piece costume paired with enormous fuscia stilettos and thigh-high blue stockings. It was incredibly sexy and I was delighted. We even gave our production company the name "Gold Lamé Productions" more as my own joke than anything else.

Rae and I spent loads of time together that summer and, after the show was over, took a road trip to Endstation in Virginia to see Michael and Natalie in Romeo and Juliet. We sat under the stars and philosophized about the people we were traveling with, and about sex and monogamy and pleasure. Rae and I have always connected immediately when it comes to sex - although we've never actually had sex with one another; go figure.


One of my very favorite memories of her is when I came back from a conference on sex in 2009. I had had an amazing time at the conference, learned a great deal, and then when I came back to school, had no one with whom I could really discuss the conference. My cohort of grad students simply didn't understand any of the theories I had read or the ideas I was trying to think through. But I had dinner with Rae that week – sushi if I remember correctly – and she understood everything and was completely excited about it, and began to riff on the ideas I was talking about. It was a wonderful moment, and I was so grateful for it.

Since then Rae has moved all over and I have tried to encourage her in all her decisions. She lives in Korea now (like you do) and she's teaching and vacationing and making difficult choices. I envy this total lack of necessity; I admire her boldness, her sexuality, her ability to live her philosophies. One day, we promised one another, we will read De Sade together. Juliette, she told me, or really anything except for 120 Days of Sodom. Because 120 days is just too much sodomy.


Rae continues to be a great support in my life and one of real understanding for my own theories about life and love and sex. I am so grateful that she gets me when I talk about my work, that she is honestly excited about my work, and that she – though she isn't even an academic – has constructive and helpful feedback on it. I appreciate her a great deal, and miss her lots.

I'll leave you with an exchange the two of us had quite recently:

Aaron: All of a sudden this feels just like such a repeat of my old bullshit. Ugh.
Rae: UGH. WHY ARE THEY ALL THE SAME?
Aaron: THANK YOU. RIGHT?!
Rae: They woo us with different hair and different height and taste in music and food BUT THEY ARE THE SAME EVEN WHEN THEY ARE DIFFERENT.