I am not sure how I managed to get to Grapho in my convoluted thought patterns. Bett made a post on the neko gym on the NPIRL blog. From there I started to think about my avatar family, for whom I have in fact built that gym. Not that the lazy sods ever use it or anything like that, of course. Except for Xia… I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Xia was sleep walking me over to the computer and logging her in for some nocturnal ab flexes in there. But other than her, no one ever goes near the place. Not even to rezz a bomb!
So anyway, for some reason all this has made me think of Grapho, my ill fated male alt avatar who is after all part of the family. Grapho came into being as a result of a dare. During one of our PhD tutorials last year Roy suggested that it might be a really eye opening experience for me if I created an avatar whom I would have a hard time understanding. After mulling over various extra-terrestrial beings and such I came to the conclusion that this would probably be best achieved through the rezzing of a man. And boy, was I right!
I have found it very difficult to become Grapho. Even his appearance gave me much trouble. Unlike Xia, whom I whipped into shape within a half hour, I worked on him almost as much as I worked on myself. And I am still working on myself, I should add. I have recently started wearing a home modified version of the Eloh Eliot skin and much as I like the skin itself I cannot stand my expression, especially the thing that happens with my mouth. It seems almost impossible to make my RL mouth in SL, I find… Anyway, back to Grapho: Yes, I did work on him for days. And what I came up with is actually the sort of guy that I really do not like the looks of at all in RL. Grapho is pretty, if not indeed downright effete. And I do not like effete. When it comes to male looks I am really not into pretty! At all!
So, in order to compensate for his looks, I decided to dress him up in the strangest cyberpunk clothes that I could find. June Dion made a killing the day we went shopping with Grapho. Every unimaginable (some of them pretty scary too) costume we got. Most, if not all, in black. Grapho has gray scale skin, so together with the strange clothes and attachments he really has ended up becoming an ominous figure – until you zoom in into his face and there is the sweet pretty boy, playing dress up horror games. Ridiculous…
I tried to invent a pretty bizarre history for Grapho, where he is this man from a hard core poverty stricken ghetto background, who has somehow worked his way up to become a hot shot architect through sheer talent and maybe even ruthlessness. (Except that Grapho looks about as ruthless as a bunny rabbit – but no matter). So, the way I made him speak was laced with a lot of curses, colloquialism. And in my attempts at trying to fill the role I overdid it to the extent where Mossy suggested that it might be a good idea to wash out Grapho’s mouth with soap every then and again. Indeed Mossy had a gut reaction of dislike to Grapho, whereas Hack did not even become friends with him. Didn’t even want to know the guy.
So, I wandered the grid with Grapho for a few weeks and then finally gave up. There were a couple of staggering observations that I made along the way though, the most notable one being that I was pestered with attention from female avatars, to an extent that I never ever am by men as Alpha or indeed drop dead gorgeous Xia. So, that tells me something about a kind of a role reversal in sexual patterns between men and women, I guess. Strangely enough, I read an article along this line just around the time when I was walking Grapho on the grid, in some women’s magazine I gobbled up in the dentist’s waiting room. So, there may indeed be some truth to this? Anyway, not my concern. My concern is my inability to become a man. So, this is leading me to think about men and my relationship to men. Does my inability point to a failure to grasp the workings of the male psyche? Here is the thing: I really like men. I become very good friends with men, in fact most of my close friends are male. Women, only very rarely. I work better with men, all my professional collaborators to date have been men. I trust quite a few men, and conversely only very few women. This probably goes back all the way to my father, whom I loved and whom I trusted implicitly. And my father never betrayed my trust, not even once and not even for a second. But did I ever understand my father? Or more to the point: Did my father ever allow me to understand him? The essence of my relationship with my father, the thing that it was built upon, was play. My father had two qualities which have ended up becoming my sine qua non of life: One was that he had a tremendous sense of humor and the other was that he had imagination to burn. So, he used to play with me. When I was very young they were intricate make-belief games, the favorite one being the rabbit and the bear but there were many others also. We also used to build a lot of props for these stories. He was a very talented guy, who had wanted to become an architect but ended up becoming a law historian instead. As I grew older the games changed and one favorite was discovering things together. He had a VW beetle car and we would undertake these dusty long trips discovering archeological sites all over Anatolia. After all, he knew the subject well enough to make some significant contributions to the field, although he was not formally educated as an archeologist. Discovering an archeological site with my father was magic. He would see in his mind’s eye how it had all been way back then and tell you about it all so vividly that you literally saw what he saw. Stones would come to life with his stories – some historic fact, some made up, based in what he already knew. He loved animals, he treated them as fully individuated personalities, equal in status to humans and a lot of my time with my father was spent in the company of animals.
So this man, who could talk for hours about things that happened thousands of years ago, who could transform himself into a bear and me into a rabbit and sustain the story for days and weeks on end… This man who was really nothing less than a huge bundle of feelings, some straightforward and others deeply complex; running the gamut from vast love to vast anger… Did he ever tell me anything personal? About how he felt? Nope… And if I ever tried to broach any subject that would involve information on what he felt, how did he react? With a masterful sleight of hand of course: Before I even knew it we would have moved on to some other fascinating subject, with me left none the wiser concerning the thing that I really wanted to know: What he felt!
to be continued…