An integral theme throughout Christ-Like is the intense bond between an abused mother and her young son who’s forced to witness the beatings but helpless to stop them. He hates her for the addiction she has to the taste of her own blood, hates the man for causing the pain, and hates himself because he cannot be a man. He cannot kill the man and comfort the woman. “Love” links to violence and becomes dangerous on all levels. Physically, he is drawn to anonymous, perilous sex. Emotionally, he’s tangled and overwrought, feeling relief only while sleeping in a lotus pond of euphoric drugs. Spiritually, he locks himself shut thus suffocating his souls.
Mikey lives in the moment, but when the drugs run out he crashes into the past. His life vacillates between the past and present, giving little thought to the future even though it strikes him in the face through the character of Marsha Legends, a homeless, addicted transvestite who was once a grand House Mother herself but now picks through trash, bumming hits off the current children in her tattered club wear.
Xavier writes in the language of the streets, interjecting Spanish phrases without definition and drug names without medical explanation. In Christ-Like we dance through fast nights; we walk the club’s catwalk; we feel the mercury of a good line drain down the back of our throats; and we know the pain of a mother who discovers years later that she delivered her baby boy into the hands of his pedophile cousin. In short, we feel the streets where people don’t go to college, get degrees in philosophy, go to therapy, or leave. Xavier compassionately paints each character, even those who did Mikey wrong. Toward the end, Mikey’s mother Magdalena walks up the stairs to confront the man who raped her child: “Deep down inside she always knew there was something wrong with Miguelito [Mikey]. Her maternal instincts had provided her with the unfathomable intuition that the innocence of her child had been crushed at an early age. Maybe that had been the twisted reason Magdalena had unleashed her anger towards Miguelito.” Xavier writes as if he’s forgiving the wrongs of his own life.
Mikey runs on id fuel throughout most of his life. It’s not until the end (after the fall, of course) when we witness the unfolding of a man who sees life beyond clubland. Mikey leaves home (the House of X) and accepts the middle path despite its occasional boredom and pain of reality because that’s where you find true love. The rest is either obsession/addiction or separation/void.
Christ-Like didn’t touch me completely-and what it touched didn’t run too deeply. It spoke to my spirit and my body yet neglected my mind. But maybe in this way I truly tasted Mikey’s life.
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