Saturday, March 15, 2008

Naked friendship

Regular readers of this blog will recall that my boyfriend, Tobi, is a native of Japan. Being with him has introduced me to some elements of Japanese culture. One of these is communal bathing.

Tobi and I sometimes go to an Asian public bath near where we live. There's a sauna, a steam room, hot and cold soaking pools, plus some lounge chairs to snooze in. There are also wash stands where you sit on a stool at a low counter while you wash your body with soap.

The environment is communal, and clothes are not worn, even when lounging. (And the washcloth-sized towels are not considered an article of clothing.) When we go we usually spend two to three hours soaking, washing, relaxing and chatting. I've never been so clean.

To Japanese people a trip to the public bath is a huge stress reliever. This is built into the culture. Now that I've adopted the practice, I can begin to see why. There's a kind of fellowship of the bath.

The Japanese have a term for this: hadaka no tsukiai (裸の付き合い) or naked relationship. This refers to a very close friendship where nothing is hidden. It's the kind of friendship between people who take a bath together naked. Or so goes the Japanese line of thinking. Inexplicably (at least to me), in correct Japanese this phrase may only be applied to men.

When Tobi was a child his grandfather used to take him to the public baths regularly. Now these are some of his best and fondest memories of his grandfather, who has since passed away. Tobi also went to public baths in Japan with his sports teammates and school friends. I can't imagine a group of our junior high schoolers getting together to bathe. :-) But for Tobi and his friends it was a significant part of their socialization and bonding.

One thing that Tobi and I joke about is this: hanging out in the spa together as a couple is one of the few perks that society grants exclusively to gay people. Unlike male/female couples, we don't have to go to separate spa areas! Score one for our team. Yay!

I should mention that both men and women in Japan approach communal bathing in the same way. The baths have separate male and female areas, but the customs on each side are the same. Since communal bathing is such a strong part of the way people cement friendships, this reinforces the separation between genders in Japan. I've noticed that friendships crossing gender lines are rarer in Japan than in the U.S. (I could be wrong on this point, but that's my observation.)

Here's to hadaka no tsukiai. Try it sometime.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Living well is the best revenge

My son just found out that he has been admitted to a PhD program at Stanford University. This is kind of a big deal, or at least it is to me. Stanford is in the first tier of grad schools in my son's field of study. It's a particular victory for him because even though he was a top student at an Ivy League undergraduate program he was wait-listed last year and had to reapply this past fall. So, basically, I'm ecstatic. As parents you root for your kids and watch them have their ups and downs. It's very gratifying when something big goes right for them.

It's also a big deal for me personally. There were a lot of years where I struggled to get my kids raised under difficult circumstances. (I'll blog about this sometime.) During that period, I regret to say that some LDS acquaintances and members of my extended family were judgmental about my divorce and "lifestyle choices." Dire outcomes for my children were predicted.

Let's just say that their unkind predictions were slightly off the mark. If you judge by measures like educational outcomes, leadership or social adjustment, my kids are just incredible. IMHO. I'll line my kids up against any of the naysayers'.

The fact that I have been able to help my kids get as far as they have educationally and personally is something this divorced gay dad is very proud of.

* * *

Until I wrote this post I didn't realize how worked up I was about this topic. Ha ha. Now back to our regular programming.

(To celebrate his grad school admission, my son and I are going on a father/son trip to Europe next month. I'm going to show him some of the places where I was a missionary, way back when he was just a wannabe zygote. Life can be sweet.)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The gay jukebox

Here's a list of the gayest songs of all time.

20. Dolly Parton “9 to 5”
19. Coming Out Crew “Free, Gay and Happy”
18. Village People “In the Navy”
17. Frankie Goes To Hollywood “Relax”
16. Village People “Macho Man”
15. Judy Garland “Over The Rainbow”
14. Bronski Beat “Smalltown Boy”
13. Diana Ross “I’m Coming Out”
12. Cher “Believe”
11. Gloria Gaynor “I Am What I Am”
10. Alicia Bridges “I Love The Nightlife”
9. Madonna “Vogue”
8. Olivia Netwon-John “Xanadu”
7. Kylie Minogue “Better The Devil You Know”
6. Pet Shop Boys “Go West”
5. Kylie Minogue “Your Disco Needs You”
4. The Weathergirls “It’s Raining Men”
3. Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive”
2. Village People “YMCA”
1. ABBA “Dancing Queen”

I don't really follow pop music (I'm a classical music fan), but somehow I seem to know all of these songs. Hmmm... I sometimes wonder if I might be gay. (I'll have to ask the boyfriend and see what he thinks.)

Via: Sullivan

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Are you getting any?

The New York Daily News reports the results of a cross-national study about how many people are getting sex at least weekly.

The U.S. is near the bottom of the pack, beating only unsexy Japan.

The United States is one of the world's most undersexed countries, according to a new study released Monday. Just 53% of Americans having regular, weekly sex according to results from the Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey of 26,000 people in 26 countries, tying the USA with Nigeria for the second worst spot on the list.

Only Japan - the Land of the Rising Sun - where little else rises, apparently - fared worse, with 34% of those surveyed getting regular action.

Greeks apparently have the hottest standard of living, topping the survey with 87% of respondants getting regular sex at least once a week.

I wonder what accounts for the differences among the countries studied.

Hat tip: JBG