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Eugene Weekly : Living Out : 4.23.09




What the Faulkner?

Pondering at some length the lust of Adams

by Sally Sheklow

I was thinking about Sam Adams (not the beer, the gay mayor of Portland) when I recently accepted a challenge in a writing workshop to produce one single, lengthy sentence that, taking inspiration from the notoriously long-winded hypnotic style of William Faulkner, a writer whose scandalous boozing hardly diminished his literary success, unlike the havoc Mayor Adams’ lying about an affair is wreaking on his political aspirations, but whom — and I’m referring back to Faulkner here — I’ve never enjoyed because his renowned brilliance remains well beyond my less-than-erudite literary grasp, not to mention that he’s yet another glorified guy (as in MALE) overshadowing the multitude of similarly unconventional and ground-breaking women writers who’ve never received recognition due to the still-prevalent tradition of blatant sexism, a pet peeve of mine that, unfortunately, falls beyond the scope of this exercise, which challenges me to use a Faulknerian-type verbosity to express one complete thought (as any good sentence, we’re taught in the grammar part of grammar school, should do) without resorting to a mere stringing together of random subjects and predicates conjoined by ands and buts, although a few of those are OK, our writing instructor notes, if they actually serve to express the thought rather than just draw out the sentence to achieve the goal of the exercise, a trick I wouldn’t dare attempt to play on my cohorts in this workshop nor on our astute instructor, leaving me with the challenge to express my single-sentence thought about — and I do have a point here — Sam Adams, who, as anyone following the saga of this openly gay city leader knows full well, has admitted to lying to voters and the press about a romantic and, more to the point, sexual encounter with a then-18-year-old male intern, leaving us gay-supportive supporters smacking our foreheads about why he couldn’t
keep it in his pants, and why-oh-why did he even address the reporters’ too-personal questions that should never have been asked — never would have been asked, some argue, if he hadn’t been gay, although the blue-dress-stain debacle of our not-that-distant political past would, shall we say, emasculate that argument — leaving me now hoping, possibly beyond hope, that after owning up to his lie, still-Mayor Adams will manage to redeem himself with an abundance of  sincere apologies, a solid plan and sound economic development work for a city that, like all cities in these tough economic times, would benefit from strong leadership by somebody who can guide the people sustainably and greenly out of its current mess, at the same time convincing voters that an out gay person can fulfill the demands of political office without proving right the homo-haters who live to terrorize us with gay boogie-men (and boogie-WOMEN, dammit), instead permitting Mayor Adams half a chance to make good, successfully overcome adversity and eclipse his foibles with venerable and irrefutably beneficial contributions to the Rose City — an outcome I’m wishing for but am possibly less likely to see than, say, succeeding at this Faulkner-inspired long-sentence challenge.

Award-winning writer Sally Sheklow completes her thoughts in Eugene.