I just found my soul mate in a 91-year-old gay man.
I’m spending my Sunday morning as I see fit – drinking coffee, reading the paper, and watching CBS’ Sunday Morning. It’s my guarantee I’ll transition into old age somewhat gracefully – if newspapers are still around in thirty years…
The show just did a story on Arthur Laurents, who wrote the book for West Side Story, and is currently directing a Broadway revival of the show. The current show’s twist is that the Puerto Rican Sharks are singing and speaking their lines in Spanish where appropriate.
Laurents’ list of writing credits is lengthy, including Gypsy, Hitchcock’s Rope, and The Way We Were. But what struck me during his interview was his being told that many people consider him a legend and brilliant…but that he can be very mean.
He said he’s heard that for many years and that at first it bothered him, but now it doesn’t – “because I know who and what I am.”
And there it is.
I knew I had found a kindred spirit. I’ve discovered that honesty and bluntness are not generally appreciated. I’m talking about being truthful with someone, not cruel. I’m talking about honestly assessing someone’s abilities or personality or whathaveyou – not to hurt their feelings or to cut them to the quick, but to help them – to help them see what they don’t and maybe help them improve and evolve and reach their full potential.
But most people probably see me as a mean bitch. And more often than not, that hurts. I vacillate between knowing that I’m not and trying to find someone – anyone – who sees things the way I do to wondering if I should just shut the hell up and play nice.
I lose my mind when people are less than truthful with me and lie to me to protect my feelings. What a waste of time! We’re here for such a short period of time, why are we spending so much of it prefacing our words and laying a soft, cushy foundation before getting to the heart of the issue? I rail against this daily at work and it’s gotten me nowhere.
My boss likes to bury his head in the sand and any honest assessments of his section or employees is too much for him to handle. You can actually see a little switch go off in his head as he pulls down the shades behind his eyes. He’s the type of person who asks each morning how everyone is doing, but has absolutely no interest in hearing anything other than, “We’re great, thanks.” In his mind, he’s checked in with his section and made sure everyone is happy. He has no real interest in identifying and solving any problems or improving the lot of his employees.
But now back to my boyfriend, Arthur. The interview continued…
Mo Rocca asked Mr. Laurents if a lot of people suffer from the need to be liked. He responds, “I think people suffer from it enormously.”
His autobiography is discussed and Mo Rocca says Laurents was blunt in his description of Katherine Hepburn, when he wrote she “had no sense of humor about herself.”
Mr. Laurents responds, “Define the word ‘blunt’… I will define it for you. Katherine Hepburn did not have a sense of humor. Do you want me to say, you know, [in a singsong] ‘I adored Kate and she was wonderful and she wasn’t exactly the most fun person…’?
Why spend all that time?? She had no sense of humor. Period.
I think people spend a lot of time being evasive and worrying about what should not be worried about.”
He then laughed and said, “This is not adding to my reputation but you know, I don’t care.”
You and meeeeeeeee against the world, Arthur. Sometimes it feels like, you and meeeeee against the world. Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one. :)