Have you ever put on a pair of shoes and gone off for a walk only to discover, a few steps into your walk, that there's something inside the shoe that's irritating the hell out of you? Of course you have - everyone has experienced this at one time or another. What drives me nuts about this is, most times I'll find a reasonable place to stop, lean, and take off my shoe, give it a good shake, put the shoe back on, and proceed with my walk - only to find, three or four steps later, that whatever was irritating me before is still there. I almost always end up having to find a place where I can actually sit down, pull my shoe off, and stick my hand inside to feel around for the elusive irritant. When I find it, it's usually something tiny. A tiny pebble, not much bigger than a grain of rice. Amazing that something that small could cause so much discomfort.
I feel this way about Otalia. As sweet as the idea is of the two characters coming together, at last, and building a life together, something is just so irritating. And it's not just the lack of on-screen intimacy (something which bugs me, and which is stupid, but which I pretty much figured, months ago, we would never see.) It's more than that, and I think I've finally put a finger on it.
Anyone who reads this blog is fully aware of the how I feel about Natalia's return to Springfield, and how weak the explanation of her absence has been. On Friday, we witnessed Olivia making the decision to attend Natalia's sonogram, and take her rightful place beside the woman she loves as they embark on the adventure of building a somewhat unconventional family. The head butt-instead-of a kiss bugged me, but I'm used to that - we're all used to it, by now - so what was it that diminished the potential sweetness of that scene and irritated me the way a tiny pebble would irritate my foot and ruin a nice walk down 5th Avenue on Saturday afternoon? It's Natalia. She's that little pebble in my shoe, and here's why.
When Natalia and Frank have their little heart-to-heart about having this baby, and why Natalia wants Olivia in the baby's life, she doesn't talk about the fact that she's in love with Olivia, or that Olivia is the only person she can conceive of raising this baby with. She talks about how she wants the baby to be surrounded by as much family as possible. That's a lovely sentiment. It's also the exact same sentiment that one could use for wanting Harley or Daisy to have a role in the baby's life. It speaks nothing of the nature of Natalia's love for Olivia, or of what we know is true: Natalia wants to raise her baby in a two-parent household, but she doesn't want to marry Frank to do this. Because she isn't in love with Frank. She's in love with Olivia. The very fact that the writers have had Natalia gloss over the nature of her feelings for Olivia is a watering down of the relationship we know they both hope to share. I mean, they've had the sex talk, with Natalia being the one to say that she definitely wanted and expected to have sex with Olivia. Now? Now what we're hearing is the Reader's Digest condensed version of It Takes A Village to Raise A Child: Olivia should be with Natalia because this baby needs all the people around to nurture it as possible. That's awfully sweet, but it's not terribly hot, or sexy. And, in fact, on the basis of what Natalia says to Frank about why she wants Olivia to be part of the baby's life, it's totally within the realm of possibility that what she's talking about is what Olivia described months ago: two best friends who love each other more than anything else in the world. And, um, isn't this what we've already seen in how they've unofficially been co-parenting Emma for a year or so?
Sure, a baby needs love and nurturing and a sense of security. All good things. But I highly doubt any of us has tuned in to this particular story line for the past year to hear about wholesome child-rearing. If I'm mistaken, I'm sure I'll hear from people. Because what I think we've all tuned in for is the portrayal of a lesbian relationship, and all the talk of babies needing family pretty much erases the lesbian out of the relationship, and places the emphasis squarely on parenthood. I don't want to hear about how Natalia wants her baby to be surrounded by good people. I want to hear about how Natalia wants to share the experience of having a baby with the woman she is in love with, the woman she wants to grow old with, the woman she wants to have sex with. These are two very different propositions. The former is a Goddamned pebble in my shoe that feels like a boulder. The latter would be a partial satisfaction of all we were promised.