The Back Room

With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.

Persona #1 The Gutless Friend

This persona is not original.  Usually reserved for guys who are friends with girls because they didn’t have the guts to ask for what they really wanted.

It can also be the friend who does not have the integrity to keep a secret.

For me, it came from weak will and desire to be liked.  I was a good listener for over 20 nameable girls.  In classrooms, dorm rooms, bedrooms these girls poured out to me the latest crimes of their boyfriends.  They often spared no expense of explicitness.  He doesn’t care how tired I am after ice skating and just pushes my face between his legs.  The other girl was already in the room as he held the video camera commanding us to strip.  I just want us to have a real conversation about where this is going but he doesn’t even care.

Enough times being the warm shoulder, supplier of tissues and the words allowing her to feel understood, the inevitable exclamation was uttered.

My, God, exactly, Andy!  Jesus, it’s like you’re in my body reading my mind.  Why can’t he understand me like you do?  You are so awesome!

All the hair tearing, choking tears and superficial cutting paled in comparison to this sweet sexless praise.  What secondary gains did I derive from the pseudo-friendship to return again to the burning stable, thinking maybe this time the burns wouldn’t be so severe.  Confronting drunk boyfriends at midnight with their drunk girlfriends, ghostwriting letters meant for non-communicative boyfriends, blowing off class to console the sobbing girl leaning against the bedroom door, picking the most erotically charged music so the girl can blow her boyfriend’s mind, practicing restraint as girls noting problem areas asked for objective opinions on their bodies when without close scrutiny none could be found, attending recitals and sporting events when boyfriends were too busy, driving around for medication for the girl-

For years I lived in the house bought and paid for by insanity.

Gutless also extends to betraying trusts.  The trusts I have betrayed, and I have betrayed many, have come from the selfish desire to be liked.  I wanted to play therapist to both parties so in having the most information could manipulate the relationship to bring them back together or break them apart.

I never faulted either party for choosing to confide in me, though I did derive pleasure from them selecting me as someone who could be trusted.  Very quickly, the desire to be liked under the shadow of low esteem grew more important than the troubled relationship.  I did want to help these girls but the slightest attention turned into infatuation cum self-destruction.

And with searing pain, a song, a film, a painting, a play.

In fact, some stories can be musically-cinematically charted.  The story of the girl who gave back the rose went from Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning” to Eve’s Bayou to Keb Mo’s “Don’t Have to Explain”.  The girl who my friend fixed up for me and I realized they were better for each other went from Naughty By Nature’s “Written on Ya Kitten” to Mr. Bean to Erykah Badu’s “Next Lifetime”.  The girl whose heart was broken by my friend and in fair play broke my heart went from The Sundays’ “Where the Story Ends” to Four Weddings and Funeral to Eek- A-Mouse’s “You’re The Only One I Need” to Pink Floyd’s “High Hopes”.

Patrice Leconte has done many films exploring the idea of unlikely relationships.  As in life, the pair joins out of a pressing need.  In Ridicule, the novice wit needs entry into society and the veteran wit is stimulated by his youth and freshness.  In Intimate Strangers, a man’s boring life changes as a result of a woman’s mistake.    In My Best Friend, the successful man without a close friend befriends a man who in turn is charmed by the attention.  In The Widow of St. Pierre, a condemned man and emotionally lonely woman find they have much in common.  And in one of my favorite films, Monsieur Hire, about a man infatuated with a woman by sight, collides with her life upon seeing something he shouldn’t have.

When M. Hire watches the woman her secrets and lies have no place to hide.  He is especially gratified at the parts to which she is oblivious.  Eventually she discovers his voyeurism as a visual confession.  In exposing herself she exposes him.

The feelings my nameable girls shared were as intimate as watching them undress.  They shed their words.  My ears burned.  But as deep as they appeared to be it was I who revealed so much more in my willingness to engage.  And it was I who, like M.Hire, acknowledged his heart without defense and soon paid a greater price for it.


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