Friday, November 30, 2012

Love Poison

"I suppose we all have to live with our contradictions. I don't know, sometimes I feel like debates are a waste of time and then sometimes I think they are a fun pastime. What gets me out of this conundrum is that there are always two opposite sides and, like a magnet, we can push and force but they just won't connect." Julie Morris-Leveque

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Albert Einstein/Chinese fortune cookie
I used to have a fatal weakness for charming, handsome, absurdly unattainable men. (I'm trying out the past tense here, but who am I kidding?) Skip the analysis and cue the metaphor: these men are snakebite with no antidote. These men are spiked punch at an AA meeting. A Trojan horse, the gift that keeps on giving, Russian Roulette, an itch that can't be scratched--and I absolutely must stay away or risk my sanity.

          For example, the quotations above were supposed to lead to a complex exploration of the futility of coercion and war in all its forms (including the self-righteous war of opinions). It was supposed to culminate in praise for an apolitical grassroots movement that brings together Israelis and Palestinians by inviting them to share their stories with each other in a safe space, outside violence and ideology, face-to-face, as individuals sharing their common personal experiences of grief and love.

Two-Sided Story is a documentary of this most radical peace movement and is, perhaps, the biggest threat to both Hamas and the Israeli Defense Force. Godspeed, y'all.

          Huh? So why are those quotations about attraction, repulsion, and the insanity of repetitive failure suddenly about the toxicity of charming men?

          I'll tell you why.
          Because I love the way their dazzling, absurd sense of entitlement rubs off on me. It's like gazing into a reflecting pool but instead of seeing myself, I behold my dream self, who is also entitled to all things good and beautiful. Dream Self is even entitled to five minutes of Dream Man's precious time, and she's grateful because that's five whole minutes of perfect—wait for it—five radiant minutes in which she herself experiences Perfect Entitlement. Oops, I just had a little orgasm.

          It's not their fault they're gorgeous and the world is eager to grant their every whim. Cary Grant complained about living in the shadow of his own mythology, "Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant."

          Nor is it our fault that we respond to beauty with such wild abandon.
          And let's face it, you think you're finally done with them, the heart breakers, the irresistible charmers, you think you've outgrown your own tiresome bullshit, when before you know it you're scratching that familiar itch and you realize you're having the same awkward conversation, more or less, and making the same excuses, just with a different Prince Charming.

          Now, none of this is fair to poor Prince Charming, who thinks he's just a guy—a really great guy, with great hair, who has, perhaps, never given much thought to why the world revolves around his blinding countenance, he just knows that it does. Not fair, but it's my job to get the hell out of his way, and away from every new incarnation of this guy.

          How do I recognize the diabolical Mr. Wonderful? This time, his guise is an unassuming writing instructor/international top model. Can he help it that he's beautiful and smart? (Yes, he's really working on a memoir called "Mannequin.") Does it matter that I don't prefer blonds with perfect hair? Certainly not. There are only two or three main ingredients necessary: he must be strikingly handsome and know it, and he must be in a position to judge me.

          Mr. Wonderful innocently suggested we conduct our private writing instruction sessions via Skype rather than by mail. I told him I would only do Skype if I could hide behind a cardboard cutout of Angelina Jolie or Keira Knightley. That's when I knew who I was really dealing with. Not the heart breaker, not the shameless charmer, but my own weakness for humiliation and reflected light. That's my true love poison.

          Mr. Wonderful helpfully suggested that I disable my webcam so he wouldn't have to see me, but I would still be able to see both him and his marked-up copy of my manuscript. You just can't make this stuff up; I'd be hard-pressed to find a more clever metaphor for losing myself in submission to a beautiful, charming, narcissist.

          My solution is pretty low tech: never lay eyes on him. As long as I don't see him, he's just my writing instructor—a capable editor who can cut the extraneous garbage, simplify, refine, and show me where something needs to be developed.

          Or, in this case, not developed.


  1. How wonderful to see you quoting Julie at the very beginning! That magnet attracts and pushes away at the same time.

    Okay sis, now I want to see what your Skype instructor looks like and how I also wish he should see you and you him as well. Do you really want him to look like a cheesy Brad Pitt? And why the fuck should he be interested in the plastic babe brigade?

    You are the real deal!

    PS But at least you are showing yourself on FB so never say NEVER!

    1. I love that Julie quote! But Sis, this has very little to do with poor Mr. Skype--about whom I know next to nothing--and much more to do with my wrong-hearted interest in the Plastic Boy Brigade (PBB for short). I'm the shallow one.

      I want a writing mentor, not a neurosis!

  2. Your 'neurosis' will go the moment you show yourself to him and are not feeling you need to hide and feeling you are YOU for fuck sake! Use the photo you use in FB and here ... that looks like you .
    Shallow? YOU?
    You are kidding me ... you have a deep end and a shallow end, you know good kitsch when you see it. No way could you rite or be as complex if you were not this and that ... rather than just that ... or this.
    Only really interesting people have their feet in both camps!

  3. PS Of course we all have and love our inner neurosis sis!

    1. Go, Sis! My very favorite cut-the-bullshit cheerleader!

      The kitschy psychodynamic shrink might call it transference, fixation on the distant father, sexualizing the frustration and recreating it ad nauseam.

      I prefer to think of it as a big, blinking DETOUR sign that keeps sending me around, but never through.

      For now, I think the moral I'm attaching to the 'neurosis' is "Don't, for the love of God, try so fucking hard to be seen and loved by deeply narcissistic people, and if you sense the stirrings of that urge towards anyone at all, disengage immediately."

      I think you're right about the 'neurosis' going when it's confronted head-on, but the problem is, you need a willing, knowing partner for that. Otherwise it's kind of like role playing when only one person knows it's make believe.