Love & Sex, Sideways

I have no clue why a member of the U.S. Congress thought it would be cute to put a picture of his private parts on Twitter.

Absolutely no clue.

The fact that he is married (and less than a year at that) makes it extra unfortunate, but he could be single and I would still be like a deer-in-headlights over his decision.

I would be, that is, if I had not remembered Thomas Haden Church in Sideways.

Recalling Church’s character Jack Cole helped me at least begin to process what could be at the heart of the craziness.  Jack is an actor losing his edge in his career.  His fiancée Christine is elegant, beautiful, intelligent, wealthy, and she loves him.  Much of the movie Sideways takes us on a ride with Jack and his friend Miles Raymond as Jack roams the countryside looking to have sex with anything in a skirt.  Jack seems at first to be completely panicked about the expectation that he will be with one woman for the rest of his life, and he can’t get busy with random women fast enough.  After all, the clock is ticking, and his wedding day is right around the corner.

It’s when Jack picks up a star-struck waitress at a franchise steak house it begins to dawn that he’s not really sowing his wild oats.  He’s looking for someone to whom he can feel superior.  He does not feel worthy of Christine, and when he loses their custom wedding rings whilst being chased by the waitress’ husband, he breaks down.  Jack has been arrogant and dismissive of his fiancée up to this point, but at the prospect of losing her his world collapses.  We see a man walled-in by insecurity and self-doubt.  Only when he lies about who he is and engages women who respond to his artificial persona does he feel in control.

Jack’s true panic about getting married is that one day Christine will realize who he actually is and that she does not love him.  Through his tears be begs Miles for help finding the rings, “I can’t lose Christine, Miles!  I can’t lose her!”

The first time I saw this movie I had the aforementioned deer-in-headlights feeling.  Huh?  Jack loves Christine?  What kind of person acts like this if he loves someone?

With time I’ve learned that, unfortunately, a lot of us numb our vulnerability with stupid behavior that contradicts our real feelings.   No one wants to be hurt, or disappointed, or found out to be not quite all the packaging promised.  My gut tells me that this incident with the Congressman “putting his junk on Twitter” — as a friend of mine so descriptively phrased it — has a little Jack Cole in it.

The one thing that keeps it from being too neat and clean is that when I look at Anthony Weiner, I don’t see Jack.  I see Miles Raymond in his eyes.

Sounds like my strange prayer list just got another name.

11 thoughts on “Love & Sex, Sideways

  1. Really?! As a male who made it through puberty/adolescence/bachelorhood/marriage/divorce/born-again-bachelorhood/etc., I think I understand something of Jack’s predicament, but when he says, “All I’ve got is my instinct. You’re asking me to go against it,” he shows something of how truly shallow he is. Aren’t we sort of supposed to rise above a bit of that to gain civilization, not to mention humanity? At some time we adults need to take responsibility for our conscious actions that hurt others, or at least admit we’re sociopaths. Jack hurts Stephanie, he risks hurting his fiancee, he even hurts Miles and leads Miles to inadvertently hurt Maya – he’s willing to hurt anyone. The reason he freaks about risking his fiancee is totally selfish, as are all his motives. You may call this defense of his vulnerability – I just call it cheap. There certainly is a connection with Weiner (and Tiger, and Arnold, and on and on), but none of their actions lead me toward sympathy. Clearly, you’re a more generous soul than I, Elizabeth, and bless you for that.

    • Bob, I completely agree with you. I can’t describe myself as sympathetic in the slightest.

      I guess what I’m trying to do is generate empathy. What possible explanations can there be when people do these things? I’m just exploring possible explanations beyond the sociopath theory.

      Honestly, people like this scare the hell out of me, but worse is my fear that as a society we dismiss it as “not illegal” or “unrelated” or “private.” What I also think is that — and I apologize for the generalization — men are supported in this kind of behavior, often unwittingly, very early in life. Untracking requires more than a knee-jerk response. Which, BELIEVE ME, I am fully capable of generating.

      I am so glad you read and comment. Thanks for pushing this down the thought continuum.

  2. I agree Elizabeth. I can’t figure out what in the world he was thinking. A some-what high profile politician acting crazy and taking pictures like that. But I know for sure that the late night TV hosts and the social media world loved having a “Weinergate” scandal to bring endless fun and jokes.

    Maybe this is his way of bringing attention to himself to run for a higher office. Although poor attention it is, the media coverage is priceless! Maybe Weiner will be Sarah Palin’s running mate in 2012…..

    • Did you catch Alec Baldwin’s comments? http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/10/alec-baldwin-weiners-just-a-busy-modern-man/

      Baldwin is someone who, from a safe distance and professionally, I really enjoy. I just picture the man or imagine hearing his voice and I start to laugh. And I think he’s really smart. But wow, the dark side of his personal life, no thank you. He sounds like a nightmare from the perspective of actually being in his family.

      I was surprised to think he has something relevant to say about this. His observation that more people (most observed anyway are men) are turning to technology for sex because having access to a real partner who is actually next to you is — well, I was about to say nearly impossible, but I don’t believe that. I think it is becoming rare that people are choosing careers and lives that prioritize intimate partner relationships. It is not impossible, but what it takes to make that happen and be a success as we have defined it for many years is not popular.

      I’ll never say what AW did is OK or that I support it in any way. But I understand stress and loneliness and denial. Married people have to be able to tell the rest of the world to buzz off if they want to make it work. One of the most wonderful things my husband ever said to me was that he feels alone with me, even in a crowded room.

      If you are in crowded room often and all you feel is alone, that’s going to be a problem.

      • Thanks for the link to Baldwin’s comments. You’re right, he has some points. I can’t fathom his getting elected to anything after his rant to his daughter several years ago, but clearly I’m a stranger in the land of understanding who can get elected to what in this country.

    • Todd, your media comment reminds me……..how long do you think before we find out that media empires like CNN are paying famous people to do things that generate clicks on their sites? “Here’s a million dollars if you get caught with your pants down.” “Deal.”

      Who knows. Maybe that’s already how it is.

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