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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Covering III: Ask Amy

Having written about Kenji Yoshino's book Covering twice, in sympathetic but critical ways, I guess the subject must be on the brain.  I don't know whether Prof. Yoshino reads either this blog or the advice columns, but Monday's Ask Amy had a lovely, textbook example of "covering" demands, if not "passing" demands.  The correspondent writes to Amy as follows:

Dear Amy: . . . About two years ago two young gay men moved in across the street. They've taken the ugliest, most run-down property in the neighborhood and remodeled and transformed it into the pride of the street.  When it snows, they shovel out my car and are friendly. . .  Last month I went out to retrieve my newspaper and watched them kiss each other goodbye and embrace as they each left for work.  I was appalled that they would do something like that in plain view of everyone.

I was so disturbed that I spoke to my pastor. He encouraged me to draft a letter telling them how much we appreciate their help but asking them to refrain from that behavior in our neighborhood. . . . Since I delivered it, I've not been able to get them to even engage me in conversation. . . They have made it so uncomfortable for the other neighbors and me by not even acknowledging our presence.

How would you suggest we open communications with them and explain to them that we value their contributions to the neighborhood but will not tolerate watching unnatural and disturbing behavior. - Wondering

Amy's answer, go figure, is that she is not amused.  I think I don't need to gild the lily by commenting on the letter (although I do like the bit where it turns out the young men have made the correspondents uncomfortable, and not the other way around).  But it is a lovely example in the genre; if Prof. Yoshino is keeping clips of good examples for lectures or other writing, here's one for the files.   

Posted by Paul Horwitz on February 21, 2006 at 03:02 AM in Books | Permalink


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But that letter sounds like a hoax.


Posted by: Steve | Feb 21, 2006 1:06:20 PM

Thanks for the comment; we already miss you around here. I did indeed mean that Amy was not amused that "Wondering" was happy to have the gay couple around for purposes of helping to transform the neighborhood, maintain it nicely, and raise the property values of their neighbors, but not so happy when they (innocuously, it seems to me) shared a public kiss that would be unexceptionable if shared between any different-sex couple on the block.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Feb 21, 2006 12:02:00 PM

Paul, I'm not quite sure what you mean when you write "Amy's answer, go figure, is that she is not amused." I hope it means that she's not amused by "Wondering" and gives her a dressing-down in print. I fear, though, that it means Amy shares Wondering's reaction to her neighbors and is not amused by public displays of gay affection.

On an (ahem) orthogonal note, Kenji Yoshino is coming to speak about Covering at Chicago next week. There's already quite a buzz around here about it.

Posted by: Dave | Feb 21, 2006 11:57:30 AM

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