Father Knows Best
When sex-advice columnist Dan Savage sat down to write a book about how he and his partner adopted a baby, he was determined it wouldn't become "another boring book about parenthood," all full of gush and sentiment.
He succeeded. Savage will never be known as the Erma Bombeck of gaydom, even if People magazine did give the book its blessing.
The Kid, subtitled "What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant," provides a humorous and sometimes unexpected look at the angst and joy that are inseparable parts of the adoption process. Yet fans of his internationally syndicated "Savage Love" column will be pleased to find that the subject matter does not deter Savage from the irreverence for which he is infamous, as exemplified by his description of the sacrifices fatherhood would likely impose upon him and his partner: Terry and I would be giving up certain things that, for better or worse, define what it means to be gay. Good things, things we enjoyed and that had value and meaning for us. Like promiscuity.
And he alleges that he decided to adopt when he did because he had a book deal and an approaching deadline, so why not kill two birds with one stone? "Everybody has kids for the same reason," Savage explains from Seattle, where he serves as associate editor of The Stranger, an alternative newsweekly. "They love kids; they have it in them to be parents. I never say in the book, 'I love kids, we love kids,' because it doesn't need to be said. I thought I'd go on to more interesting things. I wanted to be as cynical and bitchy and sarcastic as I could."
He never expected that his book would not only be accepted, but critically praised. "Most people have been thrilled, maybe because this is a subject that people are desperate for cynicism and sarcasm," he surmises.
For all Savage's impertinence, The Kid manages to be both touching and instructive. He is brutally honest about his feelings and the difficulties and emotions faced by couples, gay or straight, who wish to adopt. And his description of the scene in which Savage and his partner take their son from his mother is heart-wrenching.
Now, more than two years after the adoption was finalized, Savage is reveling in fatherhood. He likes being a dad so much that he's thinking of adopting another child.
Does all this mean Savage has gone suburban mainstream? Dan Savage, who faces trial in Iowa for a pre-election prank in which he allegedly voted illegally and ran around (former) presidential candidate Gary Bauer's campaign offices licking doorknobs and staplers in the hope of giving him the flu? That Dan Savage?
"The culture has changed," he says. "I have not changed. Ten years ago, newspapers wouldn't touch my columns. In the latest issue of Time, there's a story about Internet sex with sex toys, and the writer did it with a porn star. Those stories didn't used to be told. And that's in Time!
"And I was watching Sex and the City on TV, and the whole plot was about a girl dating a guy who likes be pissed on."
But that was HBO, he concedes. And HBO is willing to take chances. For instance, The Kid will be an HBO project -- comedian Robin Williams and his wife have optioned the book for television.
Williams, however, is not Savage's first choice to play him on TV.
"He's too old," Savage says. "I want Freddie Prinze Jr."
"Because I want to get him on the casting couch. Just an hour. That's all I ask."
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