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Posts Tagged ‘Dan Savage’

The Kid

I wasn’t really looking for The Kid. I browse other people’s book lists quite often (on their very public profiles) with the generally harmless intention of picking books for my own ‘books I plan to read’ (virtual) bookshelf. One such book I’d marked was taken from the list of a reader, who, as my virtual book cataloging tool told me, had very similar tastes in books. It was The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family by a Dan Savage. Now, I’d never heard of Savage, never stumbled upon his sex column and don’t really read books on ‘relationships’. But, this book seemed to be highly regarded by many, as a quick search revealed, and that intrigued me. So, that’s how I ended up looking for The Commitment in my library. In the meantime, I’d googled Dan Savage (or the book, I don’t remember which) and was armed with two tidbits: Savage is gay and writes for a syndicated sex column. That made the book that much more readable in my eyes.

Sadly, my library doesn’t carry a copy of The Commitment, but it had one of his other books: The Kid: What happened after my boyfriend and I decided to go get pregnant. Under this title, is a brief description: An adoption story. Which it is, but what an adoption story!

Just as I wear glasses that color everything I see, do and write about, Savage’s book is certainly written from a very unique POV, and one that I don’t have much access to. My glasses are female, Indian living abroad, mother, heterosexual. Savage’s is very homesexual, among other things. And that changes things quite a bit, doesn’t it? I’ve noticed that fellow Indians living in America have this not very good habit – whenever they think they’ve received unfair treatment, at the line in Walmart, from the waitress, from the guy behind the Starbucks counter, or at a job interview, some part of them is only too willing to think “If I were white, would they have done this to me?”. The color of our skin, our funny accent, and our initial unfamiliarity with unwritten social rules, mark us, in our eyes, as the ‘outsider’. And that, and only that, must be why we are sometimes treated differently and unkindly. When I read this book, I understood how all minorities must be guilty of this kind of thinking, and very naturally so. A gay man is automatically marked as the ‘other’, and that colors everything this man sees and perceives. The ‘other’, any ‘other’,  is automatically subject to excessive scrutiny, and his life and actions are constantly examined under the microscope to find something, anything that can be held against him.

The adoption story made me cry. And that means I loved it. Sentiments aside, it is a unique adoption story: Gay men, open adoption, gutter-punk birth mother – certainly doesn’t sound like a story I’ve heard before. Gutter punk culture and spare changin’ aside, Savage does raise some important questions. Such as, ‘how did people raise kids before plastic came along?’. I wonder. When my son was born, I hated all the plastic in my living room – the swing, the toy cars, the toy bins, and the high chair, plastic toy telephones, plastic cricket bats, plastic puzzles, plastic xylophone, plastic sippy cups and bottles – yes, what did people do before plastic, indeed.

The book is fantastic. It made me laugh AND cry, which hasn’t happened very often. Except maybe with An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination. Which I loved as well.

 

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