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A bizarre kind of love/hate

by Anne Hilton, Newsday, Friday July 26, 2002

At the risk of incurring the wrath of the entire homosexual community --not that I would care too much — I'm prepared to say here and now that I've never been a fan of same-sex relationships and same-sex marriages. Now, I'm beginning to reconsider. (Please, please read on to the end and don't stop here, lest you go away with the impression that I've become sympathetic to "those people").

It's just that it only recently occurred to me that there are two men I know, who would be absolutely perfect for each other.

It's a shame that they're not permitted to share with each other, the joys of marriage and living together.

My limited knowledge and understanding of relationships tell me that partners are supposed to love each other; to offer support and assistance for each other — especially in times of difficulty. Of course there's more to it but those aren't important for the sake of making my point.

Here are these two men I know, who fight constantly with a kind of intensity that can only be driven by uncontrollable passion. But it's the kind of fight which reflects more of a love relationship than a hate relationship, in the mould of a classic love/hate affair.

They criticise, condemn, insult, embarrass and try to out-do each other at every opportunity. Yet, in spite of all of that, they love each other — to death if either gets the opportunity — for no other reason that they absolutely need each other for their very survival.

So often we hear stories of married persons having extra-marital affairs, yet stubbornly refusing to leave the marriage. It's simply because the marriage and the marriage partner — in spite of problems within the marriage — provides a tremendous amount of strength and support to each member.

In the same way, these two men provide for each other, all the strength and support the other needs. That is why I make the argument that, in as much as they already fight and bicker like an old married couple, they ought to be allowed to cement and to publicly proclaim their mutual love and affection.

So far I haven't identified the men, but allow me now to introduce the two people in Trinidad and Tobago whom I regard as having the most need for each other...our best matched couple.

May I introduce Mr Basdeo Panday and Mr Patrick Manning.

I challenge anyone to show me two people who support and sustain each other more than these two men support and sustain each other. Sorry Oma and Hazel. Your husbands appear much better suited to each other than they appear to be suited to the two of you. To a large extent ladies, your husbands complement each other just beautifully. They appear to neutralise each other.

Here's what I mean.

By his own admission, Basdeo Panday told us that he wanted and needed Patrick Manning at the helm of the People's National Movement, so he (Panday) could remain in the Prime Minister's chair.

Remember Panday's famous quote —"As long as he's there, I'll be here!"?

While many of us might have regarded the comment as one made in jest, I want to suggest that it could not have more accurately reflected Mr Panday's feelings towards Mr Manning. But it goes further.

Have any of you noticed that every time Mr Panday goes and does something stupid and loses points, Mr Manning goes and does something just as stupid, so that they both end up on level ground?

Let's just look at their record since Mr Manning was appointed Prime Minister on December 24.

Mr Panday immediately discarded the Crowne Plaza agreement which the two men had negotiated and signed. Could we regard that as some kind of marriage contract? Anyway, Mr Panday got a lot of blows for rejecting the agreement —walking out on the marriage, as it were.

Not to be outdone, Mr Manning adopted a position made famous by Mr Panday. That was: "Who want to go could go". See how they work with and for each other?

So Mr Manning let Mr Panday go and brought back the original Mrs Manning. That was Hazel. Now Mr Manning got blows for bringing the old MRS into the new arrangement.

That didn't even pass properly when Mr Panday began ranting and raving that he and his former Cabinet Ministers (his children from a previous enterprise) had been cheated by the President. To rub salt in the wound, Mr Manning went and brought 28 of his own children into the Cabinet.

Tit for tat the two have been playing their little game. The seven months between then and now have been littered with so many instances of their public romance that to stopped being a spectacle and we've almost stopped noticing.

Most recently, Mr Panday has been battered and severely bruised by his inability to provide satisfactory answers about his London bank account. Even the most die-hard of Mr Panday's supporters would have sworn that the old Silver Fox could not recover from his injuries.

But, sure enough, being the devoted and loving partner that he is, Mr Manning has again come quickly to Panday's rescue. Like a true hero, found only in fiction novels and Hollywood scripts, he stubbornly goes against the avalanche of public opinion which calls, even begs, for an election date to be set. He sets himself up as the bad guy, wildly spending state funds, ignoring what is clearly best for the country and defiantly holding on to power at all costs. In the end he succeeds in buying time for his friend; his partner.

On the evidence it appears clear that no two people have ever been more perfectly matched. It's sad that we haven't yet found a way to give them what they've earned and what they deserve -- each other.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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