Tuesday, January 8, 2013
The Black Knight
(A phone rings in an apartment halfway across the province where Juvenal, Germanicus and Catullus' older brother, is in the shower. Stepping out, he consults the call display and discovers that Lydia is calling. Shocked and slightly embarrassed at the thought of talking to his big sister without even a towel, Juvenal throws on a bathrobe and answers the phone. Opening pleasantries are exchanged, and then Lydia gets down to the point of her call.)
Lydia: Okay, so this is going to sound crazy...but I think that Catullus might be gay.
Juvenal: Astounding Holmes! What incredible sequence of deductions brought you to that conclusion?
Lydia: So you think so too?
Juvenal: Why do you think I call his “girlfriend” Ali?
Juvenal: Because she's his Ali-bi.
Lydia: So you've thought so for years. But do you have proof?
Juvenal: We've reached the point where even you've noticed. Q. E. D.
Lydia: That's not fair. I mean real proof.
Juvenal: How about you start by telling me what put you on to him?
Lydia: Okay. So we're in a bar, having a conversation with Germanicus and Sheila about the morality of sex. Catullus claims that he's just playing devil's advocate, but he seems pretty invested...
(Juvenal reaches towards a device attached to the side of his phone and presses a small red button marked “Record.”)
(Meanwhile, Catullus has been forced to cut his conversation with Jeremiah short because his Alibi has arrived at the door to pick him up. Catullus disappears upstairs. He returns wearing a long black coat which covers up his formal wear: the traditional toga virilis which his mother made to celebrate his sixteenth birthday. He and Ali talk in the car as they drive to Catullus' parents' house.)
Ali: So, I was talking to Sheila and she said that she thought that you might be coming out...
Catullus: Sheila? I didn't think that you and she had a relationship outside of my parents' house.
Ali: She thought it was important to get in touch with me. She was worried that I might not know about you...that you might be stringing me along. She's actually afraid that her boyfriend is two-timing her and she's projecting that onto us.
Catullus: Ah. Well that explains why she's throwing herself at Lord Stoic again. I'm half tempted to take her aside and give her lessons in how to carry out a proper seduction. She could have him by the end of the week if she went about it the right way. And it would be so satisfying to see his vaunted “self-possession” cut down.
Ali: I think it's probably a lot more fun to imagine that than it will actually be when it happens.
Ali: Do you mind my asking why you decided to come out to him?
Catullus: Temporary madness. I saw a woman at the mall selling Christmas cards and bric-a-brac for PFLAG in support of her gay son. I had a Hallmark moment and came down with a severe case of coming-out-itis.
Ali: That might have happened, and it might even have been the catalyst. But it's definitely not the reason.
Catullus: I don't know.
Ali: (Considers) Something must have changed recently.
Ali: Do you know what it is?
Ali: Well? Are you going to tell me?
Catullus: All right. Jeremiah has AIDS.
Ali: Yes...But we've known that for a while now.
Catullus: No. I mean, it's not just HIV anymore. He's dying. Probably in the next couple of years. I haven't any idea how that relates to coming out to my wildly erotophobic little brother.
Ali: Catullus, that makes perfect sense. You know you're going to need the support and understanding of your family, and that support isn't going to be anywhere near secure enough if they think that Jeremiah is just your mentor and if you're terrified of them finding out the truth. You're on the brink of a major personal trial, and you want to know which of your allies are really on your side. I think that's very reasonable.
Catullus: Yes, well what I found out is that my allies are decidedly not on my side. I'd rather not figure that out any more.
Catullus: Yes, I know you're on my side.
Ali: But remember it took me a while too. It's not an easy thing to understand. To other people your relationship with Jeremiah just looks like...
Catullus: Sexual predation?
Ali: Something like that.
Catullus: That's why I'm not coming out. I tested the water, and I've realized that plunging in is liable to induce psychic hypothermia.
Ali: I understand. And I'm not saying you have to have some sort of “coming out” type staged event, but your family is going to find out eventually. And I do think that it would be easier for everyone if they heard it from you.
Catullus: Yes. I realize that. I don't know. I'll think about it.
(Back in Toronto, Juvenal finishes putting on his toga and wraps up his conversation with Lydia.)
Juvenal: Interesting. Very interesting. So, you coming to Saturnalia this year?
Lydia: You making sacrifices to idols this year?
Juvenal: You betcha.
Lydia: Yeah, I think I'm going to decline. We'll pop in after it's over and say hi to everyone.
Juvenal: You'll miss the symposium. You know you wanna be there for the symposium.
Lydia: It's so true. But it's probably just an exercise in contention anyways. What's it going to be about this year?
Juvenal: Well, last year it was death, the year before that, madness. I was thinking it was time to have one about Eros, since that's how it all began.
(End of Part VIII)