Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Our Man of Perpetual Sorrow, by Dan Savage.

I sadly do not listen to NPR, or This American Life, all that much. When I had long subway commutes in Boston I did spend many a ride listening to NPR podcasts, but since then it's been pretty wholly absent from my life. But Kathy is a good web savvy liberal and still listens to This American Life podcasts sometimes, and the other night a week or two ago when we'd gotten in to bed she got out her Macbook and had me listen to a piece from show #379, Return to the Scene of the Crime. This show included a musical number by Joss Whedon, which is pretty amazing and right up our alley, but she didn't have me listen to that, but to the last piece, entitled Our Man of Perpetual Sorrow, by Dan Savage.

I've tried to find Youtube or other such clips of it online, since the show was recorded in front of a live studio audience, but I've come up with pretty much nothing other than the full show which you can download here at NPR's website. It's free and easy and I urge you to go there, and click to about the 37:00 minute mark, and listen to it.

I cried while we listened to it laying in bed, but this was not too strange, being that I seem to cry easily at things. What was notable about it was the next day I got up, went to work, and throughout the day at work I would think about certain parts of it, parts where he said something particularly poignant or parts where his voice started to crack, and suddenly without control tears would spring to my eyes, again. In the middle of work. This was weird. For instance, I cried like a baby during the Michael Jackson memorial today, but thinking about it now, I still feel sad and moved but my eyes are dry. But this Dan Savage piece seeped under my skin in a weird way, probably for a variety of reasons. Because it is about being Catholic, and being gay, and about the awful pain of losing someone you love, and how to reconcile liking the feeling of being in a church, calm and quiet and holy, while knowing that you don't adhere to so many things the church stands for. It is an overall complex emotion and one I relate to in certain degrees. For instance, I knew in my mind that I stepped away from the Catholic church the moment I started dating Kathy, but sometimes when she mentions bad things about the Catholic church I get weirdly riled up and offended. Anyway, it's not really about me, or even the whole gay-religion thing, I think that just made the piece sting my heart even more. Savage's piece is really more about loss and coping with the idea of death, and it is shockingly honest and beautiful and I am mainly posting about it here because I want more people to hear it.


  1. I love Dan Savage. I'll have to download this.

  2. "When we were all at her bedside, she arched one eyebrow and said, Shit." And "If I were the kind of person that could believe, I would believe. But I am not that type of person. Shit."

    Isn't the internal consistency of the way Dan Savage writes so brilliant? Shit.

  3. They played it today, and it is one of the most perfectly written essays I've ever heard/read. It was gorgeous and heartbreaking.

  4. I heard this yesterday on the radio. I lost my mother almost 6 years ago, but when his voice cracked, I relived the experience and pain all over again. Cried like a baby.

    This was one of the most beautifully told stories I've ever heard and I'm going to share it with my family. As a lapsed Catholic (and one who will NEVER return to the church) I could identify with a lot of his feelings.