I am looking for the holes
The holes in your jeans
Because I want to know
Are they worn out in the seat
Or are they worn out in the knees.
– Ani DiFranco
Came back from seeing Fun Home, the musical adaptation of Alison Bechtel’s graphic novel. Lots of thoughts, most of which will never come down on paper, most of which will never be missed. But –
The stage is a bit of ingenious machinery, with the ornate furnishings of the Bechtel’s meticulously curated home rising and vanishing as needed by the action, with only a thin seam on the wooden floor revealing that anything has been there. A fainting couch, upon which the closeted Bruce clumsily suggests that a young man unbutton his shirt while handing him a glass of sherry. The drafting table of the adult Alison, sketching out the bird’s eye view of the tragedy of her father’s life, and stunned by how very small it is.
The magic is smooth and almost unnoticeable, until the moments before Bruce decides to die, and all of the furniture he’s obsessively selected and restored and burnished for years drops into the pit beneath the floor and there is no covering. There are holes that open and around which the actors must navigate, until you realize that like the missing stair Bruce’s family has been working around those gaps the entire time, unknowing.
It reminds me of the yawn in the 9/11 Memorial, where in the former base of each tower there is a deliberate emptiness into which water spills with perfect geometry and disappears.
When it comes to gay rights, we’ve progressed a lot. Even within Bruce’s lifetime, he expresses shock about what options now exist for the young Alison coming out as a lesbian.
But when you’ve spent your life pretending the holes don’t exist, how do you go about filling them up? Can you? Or do you just fall in?