“She was the girl next door,” Savel said. “Everyone loved her, and we were basically shooting it in the foot and hoping it didn’t bleed out.”
Privately, ABC had many of the same fears, and executives said they would not officially approve the episode until they had seen a fully formed script, Green remembered.
But Disney, which had acquired ABC in 1995, loved the idea, and pushed ABC to make it happen. By 1996, Disney’s corporate culture had already become much more LGBTQ-friendly than ABC’s. The company had multiple gay executives. It hosted “gay days at the park,” said Pete Aronson, then an executive vice president at Disney. Dean Valentine, then the president of Walt Disney Television, told DeGeneres that he wanted her team to take the idea as far as they could, and really challenge people.
When people hear that I surf, I get a knowing nod of awesomeness from the terra firma-bound. I know what they’re picturing: me on a thruster, carving up and down a wave face until I casually kick out the back to paddle out to the line up for another. The truth is that most surfers don’t come close to what we see in highlight videos. But pretty’s not the point. The point is the patience and perseverance it requires to get back on the board and try again. After a surf instructor pushed me into my first wave, it took me five years to catch one on my own.
When I do catch a wave and feel the glide, I’ll hold onto that feeling for hours, days or even weeks. I’m hooked on the pursuit of those moments, however elusive they may be. But it’s not the momentary high that has sustained me. In the process of trying to attain a few moments of bliss, I experience something else: patience and humility, definitely, but also freedom. Freedom to pursue the futile. And the freedom to suck without caring is revelatory.
Bausch’s latest book is aptly titled. The 14 stories in “Living in the Weather of the World” inhabit places where the outlook for their characters is uncertain at best and cataclysmic at worst. Here love and marriage are brittle, people are driven by lust and desire they barely comprehend, and a lack of self-knowledge can ruin a man’s life just as surely as a loaded gun. Sometimes the action is galvanic, an explosive moment that puts the reader in mind of Flannery O’Connor’s ability to open out a story into dangerous, unknown territory. And, like O’Connor, Bausch is able to pull a story back from melodrama, no matter how sudden or dramatic the turn of events.
“The Outrun” becomes a kind of personal travelogue of the Orkney Islands, their numinous geology and mystical history, from the unique perspective of one who is both an outsider and a native. One imagines Liptrot writing these pages in the spectacular solitude she finds there, writing as much to stave off loneliness as to mine its many gifts, just as alcohol was once both the problem and the solution. It is a hard battle, and the push and pull, the urge to stay and to go, like the wind and the waves, never stops.