Daily Archives: April 17, 2013

Radio XVIII, side B, track 5: “Kissing A Fool” by George Michael

George Michael - Kissing A FoolOh, George Michael, it’s not an easy thing to say in this day and age, but I was a bit of a homophobe back in the day.  And I know there’s still remnants of it still percolating somewhere in my head.  Understand, George Michael, I grew up in a small, religiously conservative farming community.  The only time I’d ever heard homosexuality mentioned was the occasional reference to someone being “a little light in the loafers”, but I didn’t actually know what that meant.  By the time I hit junior high, I had more of an idea of what being gay meant, at least the technical aspects of it, but I don’t know what any of us really understood that it was actually real, but it was sure fun to make gay jokes.  There were a few people in our school who MAY have been gay, but they were really just “different” and we laughed at them for being “different”.  I don’t know what the reaction would have been had there been confirmed gayness. . .

The point is, George Michael, when I got to college, I was still pretty sheltered when it came to the subjects of race and homosexuality, and while my campus had a teensy bit of diversity, my roommates and I would not have necessarily been considered LGBT-friendly.  A night class introduced me to my first lesbian (we’ll talk about that some other time), but even that was someone I didn’t know very well, so maybe I told a few less gay jokes, but I still told them and still laughed pretty heartily at the idea of someone liking someone of the same sex.

So let’s jump ahead to my sophomore year, where I was good friends with a guy we’ll call Michael Manly (not his real name, but his real name is also about the most masculine name you could think of).  One weekend, Michael and I decide to take a trip to the Mall of America for whatever reason one would go to the largest retail space in the world.  On the drive up, we’re listening to music, talkin’ guy stuff, talking about how great it is that we’re guys and how women are amazing and how it’s impossible to fathom that a guy would like another GUY for God’s sake.

The Mall of America is exactly what you would expect, a giant mall, and we have a good time, we’re pals and we enjoy each other’s company, so there you go.  It’s on the way home that life changes for me.  Michael’s driving, and he says to me “Y’know how before we were talking about how great women are and everything?” and I grin and I say “Yeah I do” and Michael says “Well, there’s something I need to tell you.  I haven’t told anyone else. . .” and I’m his bud so he can tell me anything and I tell him so and he keeps driving and says “I’m gay.”

And there it is.  Michael, Michael MANLY, he’s gay.  Just like that, everything’s different.  I have about a million questions, but the first thing I think of, to my dawning horror, is all the things I said on the trip about how I couldn’t comprehend how someone could be gay when women were so amazing and I think of all the times Michael’s sat in our dorm room with me and all my roommates and we joked about people being gay and I’m suddenly horrified and I apologize, and Michael smiles, a little sadly, and tells me it’s all right.

And for the rest of that trip, he talks about what it’s like for him and how hard it’s been trying to be someone that he’s not, and he swears me to secrecy because he doesn’t want anyone else to know.  And it’s then that I first really understand that age-old saying “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”  And I also realize that Michael is still a man, one of the manliest I know, he’s not some weird freakish other deserving of scorn and ridicule just because his “type” ain’t mine.

I’m not going to say I’ve become the most socially liberal person on the planet since those days, George Michael.  I still fall into mind traps regarding race and sexual identity, but these days I can at least recognize them for the traps that they are.  What I wonder, George Michael, is if I would have had this epiphany earlier had I really paid attention to this song and realized you were singing it to another man.  Because it’s a beautiful song, it’s a heart-breaking song, it’s a song about one man’s love for another.  I’d like to think that maybe I’d have become more enlightened earlier on, but who’re we kiddin’, right, George Michael?

“Kissing A Fool”

You are far

When I could have been your star
You listened to people
Who scared you to death and from my heart
Strange that you were strong enough
To even make a start
But you’ll never find
Peace of mind
‘Til ya listen to your heart

People

You can never change the way they feel

Better let them do just what they will

For they will

If you let them steal
Your heart from you

People

Will always make a lover feel a fool

But you knew I loved you

We could have shown them all

We should have seen love through

Fooled me with the tears in your eyes

Covered me with kisses and lies

So ‘byyyye
But please don’t
Take my heeeeeeeeaaaaart, you are far

I’m never gonna be your star

I’ll pick up the pieces
And mend my heart

Maybe I’ll be strong enough
I don’t know where ta start
But I’ll never find
Peace of mind while I listen to my heart

People

You can never change the way they feel

Better let them do just what they will

For they will

If you let them steal
Your heeeart

And people

Will always make a lover
Feel a fool

But you knew I loved you

We could have shown them all

Naa-aa-aaa-aaa-aaa-aaa

But remember this, every other kiss
That you ever give, long as we both live
When you need the hand of another man, one you really can surrender with
I will wait for you like I always do
There’s something there
That can’t compare
With any other

You are far

When I could have been your star
You listened to people
Who scared you to death and from my heart
Strange that I was wrong enough
To think you loved me, too

Guess you were kissing a fool

You must have
Been kissing

A fooooooool

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