It seems to me that one of the most annoying situations we sometimes find ourselves in is that nagging feeling that something’s just not right. It’s not necessarily that something is “wrong”, it’s that something is perceived to be incomplete, missing or forgotten – kinda like when you’re about an hour on the road of a weekend trip and begin to wonder if you really did close the garage door.
Sometimes it’s the bothersome sense that there’s an appointment, meeting, or some kind of obligation requiring attention but the details are too elusive to grasp.
The varieties and sources of this type of uneasiness are many but the remedies are usually just two. First, find some way to determine the true status, such as calling a neighbor or friend to see if the garage door is closed – or contacting those you might have had a meeting or appointment with to clear up the matter. Unfortunately, sometimes the only available alternative is ignore the discomfiture as much as possible – figuring everything will straighten itself out eventually. Sound familiar?
Why bring this subject up? Well, I have been having that kind of “something’s not quite right – something appears to be missing” feeling lately. I’m pretty sure I’ve tracked down its origin to a recent political commentary cartoon.
The drawing showed the stylized figure of a woman dressed in flowing robes kissing a young woman who was bent over backwards with the passion of the embrace. I’m not quite sure of the intended symbolism but figure it had something to do with the recent supreme court decision approving same sex marriage – hence the female/female kiss. I am quite sure, however, about the circumstances surrounding the original photo the cartoonist mimicked.
The date was Aug. 14, 1945; the location was Times Square in New York City; the occasion was the announcement that the World War II was over. It was V-J (Victory over Japan) Day as Japan unconditionally surrendered. A professional photographer was taking pictures of the crowds in Times Square when he photographed a young uniformed (male) U S sailor kissing a young woman dressed in white – apparently she was a nurse He was bending her over slightly backwards as she clutched her purse with one hand and held her skirt with the other.
This was no lovers’ kiss – as it turned out they didn’t know each other and following the kiss went their separate ways. What made this photo so memorable was that it captured the spontaneous reaction – the joy and elation that swept throughout the nation – to the news that the war was finally over.
As word spread across the country, people rushed into the streets, police and fire engine sirens sounded, church bells rang, strangers hugged and kissed. The long struggle against the pure evil that had been spreading across much of the world was over. For days following V-J Day places of worship were crowded as prayers and songs of thanksgiving were offered. Oh, yes, those of us who lived through that time recall the momentous reaction by the entire country to the war’s end – and how the picture of a kiss between a sailor and a nurse somehow captured that mood.
I suppose the cartoonist was attempting to make a correlation between the decree that couples may marry regardless of gender with that of V-J Day – trying to equate that decision with the end of World War II. This is where I think my uneasiness comes in – where something is missing. The celebrations of V-J day encompassed the entire country from big cities to the smallest rural villages and farmlands.
Everyone – and I mean everyone – was absolutely elated with the news. What I haven’t seen as a result of the same-sex marriage decision is anything like that nationwide outpouring of jubilation. Nope, the reaction of the general public appears rather subdued – kind of a reluctant acceptance of the verdict by five of nine robed jurists. Oh sure, there have been some celebrations by same-sex marriage advocates in some larger population centers but nowhere near the siren-blowing, bell-ringing church-filling spontaneous outburst of joy from coast to coast.
That’s what’s missing from the comparison the cartoonist was trying to make. Well, as time goes on and the new order of things takes hold, I suspect new uneasiness will arise from the unfamiliar language, customs, and procedures coming from the court’s mandate. Will the expressions “husband” and “wife” be used by same-sex couples; will one take the last name of the other; and, what about the traditional terms “Mr and Mrs”? You know, I have a hunch these uneasy feelings won’t go away soon.
At least that’s how it seems to me.