Queer theory puts forth the concept of triangulation, wherein two nominally heterosexual men displace their homoerotic desire onto a third person — a woman.  In Dead Ringers, when twin gynecologists Beverly and Elliot dance with a woman wedged in between them, this can be understood as Elliot’s attempt to seduce Beverly and consummate an unrealized sexual relationship.

Johns Hopkins in the mid-90s didn’t have a gay and lesbian studies minor; women’s studies was the workaround.  I hadn’t planned on minoring  — I already had my hands full with a double major — but the opportunity arose, like the academic equivalent of supersizing your meal.  “Did you know for just 6 more credits, you could have a women’s studies minor?”  “Really?  Sign me up!”

Once you learn about triangulation, you begin seeing it everywhere:  in cop movies where the partners in blue share sexual banter; in horror films where the rebel and the square must band together in their tattered clothing to rescue the cheerleader from the monster; in war movies where two ace pilots must blow up a fuel depot to impress the Army nurse.  Everywhere you turn:  guys wanting to get it on with each other, but finding a surrogate instead.  It’s a sad state of affairs.

During my junior year, I began dating D___, whom I’d met at a gay writer’s conference.  He fancied himself a poet and got along famously with my friends, especially T___ (a female).

One night, T___ threw a “Jane or James” party:  T___ dressed as Jane Seymour in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and D___ came as James Joyce.  I threw on a non-descript dress and called myself a plain Jane.  Drinks were served and consumed.  I made the mistake of drinking Kool-Aid and vodka because I didn’t know any better.  After the other guests had left, D___, T___ and I collapsed together on the bed, while another friend, G___, who was famous for occasionally donning a kilt to play bagpipes in a copse of trees near campus, crumpled into a heap on the floor.  As G___ snored, the three of us made out.  But it was an incomplete ménage:  D___ and I, check; T___ and D___, check; but my friendship with T___ was too much for me to see her in a romantic way.  (Also:  I’m extremely squeamish about girly parts:  early in Dead Ringers, one brother invites his twin to examine a woman with three cervical openings.  Nothing we did approached that level of creepiness.)

Maybe G___’s slumbering presence made things more exciting than they otherwise would have seemed.  We stifled giggles all night long, and, intermittently, I went to the bathroom to dry heave into the toilet before returning to bed, gingerly stepping over G___ on the way.  The next morning, we could blame alcohol or we could blame darkness, but we knew that our relationships with one another had shifted.  We were now less a triangle and more a simple angle:  a single pivot connecting two rays.

Here’s the thing about triangulation:  at the end of the movie, heteronormativity reigns.  The hero marries, and if the outlier to the happy couple hasn’t been conveniently been killed off, he usually gives his consent.  So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that D___ and T___ hooked up, but since life can’t always be theoretical, I broke up with D___.  Towards the end of Dead Ringers, one brother says to the other, “Separation can be a terrifying thing” — right before he plunges a “gynecological instrument for operating on mutant women” into his brother’s torso.

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