OUT ON THE BAYOU
JANUARY 28, 2000 • HOUSTON VOICE
Out In Print
'Breakfast' breaks below stereotype's surface
by DEBBIE FRAKER
Wow. Sometimes it's hard to say much
more than that about a book that touches
you as profoundly as this one did. But a
reviewer has to give it a shot.
On the surface, BREAKFAST WITH
SCOT is about a gay couple who find themselves the guardians of an 11-year-old boy
when his mother dies. Several years before,
Ed and Sam had agreed over dinner and
many glasses of wine to take custody of the
boy, Scot, if anything should happen to his
parents. Like most people who make rash
promises on the spur of the moment, they
didn't actually believe they would ever be
expected to make good on their word.
But they were, and they did. Ed and Sam
never planned to be parents, and the experience doesn't exactly fit into the lives they
have established. They are a fairly conservative urban gay couple—not flamboyant in
any way, not sissies by any means. They are
accustomed to a sophisticated lifestyle that
includes small dinner parties with friends
and quiet visits to the local art galleries.
When Scot comes into their lives complete with make-up kit and pantyhose,
they are forced to face queer issues they
have never addressed head-on.
Michael Downing forces his
reader to look squarely in the
face of a sissy boy-child and
respect him for the fact that he
is the stereotype plus a
whole lot more.
"Having a child, I soon learned, is like
having an open wound," muses Ed.
"People ask you about it. They give you
advice and secret remedies. Friends tell
you to ignore it for awhile and see if it
doesn't heal itself. Everyone assures you
that it won't kill you. And then they show
you their scars."
But Scot isn't like their friends' kids, and
parenting him is a unique challenge. What
do you tell a child who is being harassed at
school for the way he looks and acts if the
way he looks and acts embarrasses you?
And what if you are embarrassed by the
fact that he embarrasses you? What do you
tell his teachers when they know you are
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gay and might think he is responding to
your influence? What do you tell your
friends who don't like finding their son
playing cheerleader with your son?
To add another level of difficulty, Scot's
mother died of an overdose. As a result of
growing up with her, Scot has gathered
enough knowledge on needles and syringes
to share with the neighborhood children,
f le shares other things, too, but that can be
a surprise (it's not what you think).
Obviously, Ed and Sam's lives become
much more complicated in the wake of
Scot's arrival. Ed is forced to look more
closely than he is comfortable with at some
deep sissified tendencies of his own. Sam is
forced to deal with some family problems
that he had previously been able to avoid
fairly well. But they both realize at some
point that they love Scot deeply as he
becomes an integral part of their lives.
No book is perfect, and this one could
use a bit more character development.
Sam, in particular, is not as well developed
as Ed, who is the narrator of the story, and
that facf leaves you wanting to get to know
him a little better. But overall, it is one of
the best books to come out in the past vear.
Michael Downing forces his reader to
look squarely in the face of a sissy boy-
child with all of his most embarrassing
stereotypical habits and respect him for the
fact that he is the stereotype plus a whole
lot more. The novel is funny and heartwarming as well as complex and layered. It
is entertainment with an edge.
I Breakfast with Scot
by Michael Downing
What your neighbors
are reading . . .
1 Whole Lesbian Sex Book
by Felice Newman, $21.95
2 Don'l Get Me Started
by Kate Clinton, $14
3 Cybersocket 2000
by Gaynet Directories, $9.95
4 Men on Men 2000
ed. by David Bergman, $12.95
5 Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up
by Andrew Tobias, $12
6 Way to Go, Smith
by Bob Smith, $24
7 Welcome to World, Baby Girl!
by Fannie Flagg, $7.50
8 Gay Spirit Warrior
by John Stowe, $15.95
9 The Talented Mr. Ripley
by Patricia Highsmith, $13
10 Pussy's Bow —
by Neal Drinan, $23.95
BOOKSTORE & CAI 1
1 Best of the Superstars 2000
edited by John Patrick, $11.95
2 Legends—Men of Falcon
Bruno Gmunder, $42.95
3 Steven Underhill—Jeff
by Bruno Gmunder, $17.95
4 Cybersocket 2000
by Gaynet 1 Mrectories, $9.95
5 The Hours
by Michael Cunningham, $13
6 The Book of Lies
by Felice Picano, $24.95
7 The Whole Lesbian Sex Book
by Felice Newman, $21.95
by Rita Mae Brown, $24
9 Don't Get Me Started
by Kate Clinton, $14
10 This is What A Lesbian Looks Like
by Kris Kleinoienst, $18.95
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