This week marked the 98th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Anyone who knows me (and my friends, for that matter) knows that that “ship of dreams” holds a special place in my heart, as well as in my development as a young quierdo (queer weirdo).
I mean who isn’t obsessed with the historical situation? A bunch of assholes claim they’ve built an unsinkable ship and assholishly decide to under-stock the deck with lifeboats. I view it as the universe saying, “Fuck you!” Kind of like when that Grecian queen says her daughter is better looking than Aphrodite. Bitch. Got. Served. Well, a whole bunch of early twentieth century folk got served on April 15, 1912 when that behemoth split in two (yeah, split in two!) and sank into the frigid waters of the north Atlantic.
Now, this is not without sadness. The majority of people on that boat weren’t pelt-wearing, red-headed, corset-tying cunts (“Do you want me to be a seamstress?”) but simple folk who just wanted a shot a new life on the other side of the globe. I could be a total douche and say that their aspirations were too lofty, but my aspirations are often too lofty and I don’t want anyone raining on my parade, either.
What’s so intriguing about this story are the equal parts “Ya had it comin’” and “That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.” This is a universal conundrum. We’ve all been there. For instance, I’ve gotten too comfortable with something (money, relationships…) and convinced myself that my gig is never-ending, invincible. I’ve stopped caring because I could, became unthoughtful and forgot to stock enough lifeboats for when shit went down. Basically, I had it coming. Afterwards, I can take the episode as a lesson in awareness (where my yogis at?). STILL, it sucks. I worked hard for that money, I invested a lot in that love. Lives came crashing down and relationships were forever changed. I will look back at that time with equal parts tragedy and…humor.
As a movie, Titanic is the most brilliant, manipulative, perfect movie ever. I unabashedly love it. I cry when it wants me to cry, I smile when I should and I laugh every time Jack swallows his own snot. It’s researched, plotted and paced to a T…but not without it’s flaws. Lines are absolutely laughable and a lot of the acting is questionable (I’m looking at everyone in the “present day” storyline). I actually want every one of old Rose’s lines tattooed on my body. They’re that bad/good. I will watch it any time it’s on TV and if you bring it to a sleepover as an option I will fight others to the death for the right to bask in it’s almost three hour runtime.
As a young homo in 1997, when the film came out, I was on delighted and confused. Who do I like better? Kate or Leo? To ease my conflicted brain (and my concerned parents) I tended to display posters including both Jack and Rose. It’s like getting one cheeseburger from Burger King and one from McDonalds, stacking them together and calling it a double- the best of both worlds. Jimmy C.’s movie also gave me the sweeping romance and scale that all budding homosexuals want their life to include. If only I had a large hat…
Luckily, I have friends who feel the same. Going to an arts-focused college put me in contact with the best fags and hags, who were able to recognize the greatness in that triple disk special edition. Once it was out in the open, we could obsess together on how the china lifted off the table when the water flowed into the first class dining room and the stellar costume choice for Rose throughout the entire third act of the film. So summer-y but soooo cold.
Thus began the ritual of watching the movie, annually, on or around the 15th. This year, we took it a step further and assembled a small gathering, in costume, for booze, food and reminiscing. To the outsider, this may seem like a mockery. True. To a point, it was in bad taste. But if you’ve been reading this post, you understand. The ladies were decked out in their finest and I donned icicles in my hair, as if I were bobbing lifelessly, waiting for a lifeboat to scoop me up.
Again, I look like a terrible person. “That really happened to people!” you might say. Yes, it did. The humor of our charade is a mask for the true horror that I feel when reading personal accounts and watching that poor steerage mother hold her children as the Atlantic invades their dreams.
The night concluded on 107th Street, at the memorial for the Astor’s, who died that night in 1912. Candles were lit and silence was had. There, we could be appreciative for the lives we have and for the friendship that exists between us. Who’d have thought that an event that absolutely none of us are personally tied to could bring us together? Our common love for Titanic is the fabric of our relationships, our quirks when together and our communal understanding that life needs to be viewed as brief and humorous…because the moment we announce that we’re perfect, we’ll ram right the fuck into an iceberg.