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Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Own Worst Enemy: updated first installment 12/18

My Own Worst Enemy
Story-in-Progress (draft)(copyright Carol Novack 2008)

I recognized that I wasn’t who I generally considered myself to be when I launched at my bathroom mirror a tirade of invectives against the person I believed myself to have been. My expletives were loud enough to rouse the woman who claimed to be my wife. She wondered if I’d abruptly succumbed to a rare psychosis that ran rampant in her family from time to time.

“Ddddon’t do this thissss fuckshitpissy pissy thing to me, you you you assinine dumb fuck bitch,” I retorted.

“I ddddon’t recognize you you as my wife wife wifey wife and I divorce you divorce you divorce you. I divorce you.”

“I’m Doris,” she replied, with sang-froid. “If you don’t remember who I am after all these years of forgettable moments, I’m leaving you. I’ve wanted to do that anyway, since Clara’s birthday without the cake you forgot to buy. You’ve never made any sense, to be perfectly frank and delicate about it all, and to top it off, you’re an insufferable ego-maniac. Since we’re not Muslims, I’ll take you to court.”

Normally, that person, meaning the “former” or perhaps occasional I, regarded himself highly for no ostensible reason and was even prone to smugness and complacently, some, including my former mother, surmised, “Narcissistic delusions, inherited from his impossible father.” That person was like one of those very obese, fragile women who prance about malls in stilettos and skintight stretch pants, ludicrously deeming themselves irresistible-- I suppose over-compensating hyperbolically and perversely for their quantitative copiousness.

Though it must be added that my seemingly obscenely self-satisfied former I was, at the same time, riddled with persistent anxieties due at least in some part to the ascendancy of envy in his emotional chart. That person, apparently “Ted,” was now the object of my derision.

When I say “my,” I’m referring to “Leslie,” Ted’s bete noir since high school, the bee in Ted’s jock shorts, badminton and baseball rival, a success in all arenas including women and courts, being a killer attorney of tortious actions and high profile divorces – that same homme fatal Leslie, who cavorts with ease on front pages and talk shows while poor, unknown Ted has toiled at his small offices, parsing trusts and estates and writing wills with the begrudging assistance of his middle-aged associate who failed the bar exam 24 times.

In retrospect, it was the sighting of the will of my ex-wife when on the verge of divorcing me that revived my revulsion for Ted, which in turn unleashed finally, over two years afterwards, a hitherto sequestered treasure trove of invectives to such an extent that I found myself, on this morbid day of low-slung, glowering clouds and hail as tough as Jennifer Lopez nails, walking (so to speak) in Ted’s boots, or rather, Ted found himself attempting to fit into mine, or both, dancing a pas de deux.

It was immediately clear to me that Ted had gotten the better end of the deal, if in fact Ted was no longer he and I was Ted, but there was no evidence that was the case, even though I looked (unfortunately) like Ted, at least since last I’d seen his face in the bathroom mirror. I would know when I arrived in court. If there were two of us representing the prominent real estate mogul in the divorce case against his allegedly unfaithful and drug-addicted celebrity wife and one of us who wasn’t I looked like Leslie, a takeover by Leslie as Ted (assumed) would be disastrous to my client, as “Leslie” had never tried a case, let alone a messy, high-profile divorce. On the other hand, if the persona of Ted had actually been taken over completely by me, Leslie, the only issue I’d have to contend with –a seminal issue indeed-- would be my outward appearance. Nobody would believe I was really Leslie if I continued to look like him, poor posture, thinning hair, tire tum and all. I decided to play it safe and proceed incognito to the courthouse, where I would huddle in my down coat and rain bonnet outside the courtroom door to see whether Ted was claiming to be I, though I actually realized that all loathing aside, I as Ted was claiming to be Leslie, and that while I had, in theory, acquired Leslie’s brain and psychological apparatus, I had every intention of using shamelessly this serendipitous transformation to my advantage. It would be easier if my former, inferior persona had inherited Leslie’s exterior, as well as interior façade, or perhaps in spite of it. Perhaps adaptation would come with time: like an evolving insect, I would quickly meta-morph my external self to become immune to the toxins endemic to divorce litigation.

[Was Ted as Leslie beginning to come to grips with having become his own worst enemy, or had he lost himself in Leslie so completely that the lesson in empathy was also lost? Would Ted as Ted when unbecoming Leslie (if ever) recognize Leslie’s endearing ontological doubts, self-castrations, and heartbreaks? Would Ted as Ted come to comprehend the tragic vastness of Leslie’s attachment to the mother who had died when Leslie was sprouting his first chin hair, and the son’s terror of his ruthless, cruelly critical father, the infamously crooked hedge fund maven XX, arrested when Leslie was at boarding school, age 9? What chance did Leslie have, under such traumatic circumstances? There was so much to overcome after a childhood of hiding self-loathing and panic under pillows, so much to do to make up for loss: the pursuit of a generous fan club, which entailed the cultivation of an opaque, John Galt persona, a larger than life self that even Leslie’s father would have praised. It wasn’t likely that the creation of a popular raconteur, ace in the golf holes and chick magnet would come easily. In fact, there was a possibility of admiration, if not empathy, an “aha” comprehension that would dissolve envy, indeed, absolve Ted of envy, for envy was a burden, a heartache that robbed him of the simplest of joys. Had Ted been capable of standing back, objectively, in Leslie’s boots and becoming attuned to the restless beats of Leslie’s tortured ticker. Perhaps.]

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