Come Back
that your acquiescence on this topic may have to do with the fact that you are not a Shakespeare scholar, or even an English professor, but a prof in gender studies. I find it shocking that people can be so sensitive about their areas. What if I suddenly decided to have a conference about the idea that identity politics was dead? I’m not sure you would go for it — not because you are not a nice person, but because it would just be too controversial for your area. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I’ve picked the wrong analogy. I’ll just get on with it. Anyway, my interest in Shakespeare authorship has been my secret agenda in terms of this conference. I know I first suggested that the subject of the conference might be Shakespeare and sexuality, which everyone, including Dr. Braithwaite, seemed to think was a good idea. But of course I wasn’t being completely honest, especially with Dr. Braithwaite. Of course I’m interested in Shakespeare and sexuality, but I’m also quite interested in the authorship question. And I was hoping — more than hoping — planning — that the conference might have been devoted not just to Shakespeare and sexuality, but could feature a few panels on authorship. Specifically, I was hoping to invite Dr. Mittenstatt from the University of Massachusetts who is the first American scholar to write a thesis on the notion of de Vere as Shakespeare. (Just Dr. Mittenstatt, just him, just one scholar on this topic, among — how many — thirty or forty?) Well, anyway, as you know it’s been very important for me to get Dr. Braithwaite’s approval and support and I was really looking forward to having lunch with him. Neither of us was going to be at the university last Wednesday so he invited me to his house for lunch. I was very flattered by this and this probably adds to the general humiliation. You know how difficult it has been for me to make the adjustment to academia from the world of the theatre. I’ve never really felt accepted by the literary community because I’m an out, gay writer. (You’ve been very encouraging to me on this subject; it’s not because of you that I’m insecure. In fact, the opposite.) As you know, Dr. Braithwaite’s wife, Amanda, is a professor here and also a prominent poet. I’d never met her, but I’ve always kind of admired her, even if only because of the way she tosses her hair around at meetings of the graduate department. I mean, they make quite a handsome couple, don’t they? He is elderly but still very, very muscled, well-built, blond-bearded, distinguished and such a kind man — and kind to me — while Amanda looks like a dominatrix, or at least a woman in charge. I’m kind of afraid of her, but in a worshipful way. So when Dr. Braithwaite said, “Why don’t you stop by and have lunch with us,” I thought I might be having lunch with the scholar and his wife, the prominent Canadian poet. I really was looking forward to it, which makes the whole thing super-humiliating. I wish I could abandon this need to be “accepted.” It’s the bane of my existence. You’d think that, being such a rebel in my writings, I would be able to handle being an outsider on the Canadian literary scene. Well, I can. But what I can’t seem to handle is being abandoned at lunch.
    I met Dr. Braithwaite at the Broadview subway, and he was going to drive me to their home overlooking the public swimming pool. But as soon as I got in the car, Dr. Braithwaite said, “I’m sorry, something has come up and we won’t be having lunch at our home.” Here is where it gets a little sketchy. I’m sure it’s possible that something did come up, and that this was not an excuse. But you know how people use that phrase “something has come up” — it’s almost always a textbook euphemism for “I’ve decided I don’t want to

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