Absence of Desire

I’m not sure what it is about me that seems to draw abusive people to me. One of my best friends growing up was an abusive asshole. I haven’t spoken to him in years. He was fun to be around when he was in a good mood, but if I dropped by his house when he wasn’t in the mood to see me, he would literally slam the door in my face. I’ve mentioned that before. My recently ex-roommate was a bit like him, except he didn’t seem to enjoy himself as much. Really, the only thing that I learned from the experience was what mental illness looks like up close. It ain’t pretty.

country club

My mental image for the rest of his life goes something like this: Eventually, he’ll get a nice job, the kind that allows you to drive a cool car, join a country club, and treat everyone who’s not at your income level like shit. Then he’ll get caught for embezzling funds. He’ll think he can get out of it, but since he’s not quite rich or powerful enough to beat the rap and his friends won’t help because they’re just glad he got caught and not them, he won’t. Then he’ll go to jail and hang himself in his cell. Or something like that. Of course, there’s a good chance he’ll never even reach that level. Right now, he’s just a musician in his early thirties with a crappy job who lives in a relatively nice apartment and is struggling to get permanent resident status so he can stay in the U.S. If he can find an American woman who is desperate and insecure enough to marry him, he might be able to stick around. Since he seems to like nice things and having everything just the way he wants it, maybe he will climb to a “respectable” social standing someday and have a very picturesque life. But it won’t last. His asking me for the broker’s fee was literally criminal, and the only reason that I’m not suing him to get my $500 back is that the logistics of that might be difficult when we live on opposite sides of the country. He’s a terrible person, but more to the point, he doesn’t think through the consequences of his actions. And that’s going to bite him in the ass someday.

I saw Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives recently. To give you a brief summary, it’s a about a bunch of unhappy (white, upper-middle class Manhattanite) married people. There’s Woody, a college writing professor who is irresistibly attracted to self-destructive women; Mia Farrow, his passive-aggressive wife; Sydney Pollack, his selfish and capricious best friend; Judy Davis, Pollack’s shrewish wife; and Liam Neeson, Farrow’s handsome single coworker who might be the perfect match for Davis now that she is getting divorced. I’m going to spoil the story for you, so here goes: Pollack moves in with a sweet-but-empty-headed younger woman who believes in astrology; Davis dates Neeson, then backs out when she realizes that he has stronger feelings for Farrow; Farrow and Allen divorce; and Allen ends his relationship with a much younger student when he realizes that she really is bad for him after all. Davis and Pollack reunite, Farrow and Neeson get married, and Woody is left all alone. None of the characters are particularly likeable, but they’re not supposed to be. Interestingly, Woody is the most sympathetic of them all.

There are some people who just want to be in a relationship. Judy Davis and Sydney Pollack don’t particularly like each other, but they decide that they’d rather been stuck in a loveless relationship than alone. Neeson and Farrow are slightly more relatable. They aren’t all that nice either, but at least they seem to like each other. And Woody…well, there are echoes of his personal life in the character, except that he’s been with his much-younger wife for two decades now. (Not that it matters, but she wasn’t his stepdaughter, just his girlfriend’s adopted daughter that she had raised with her husband before falling in with Woody. So that’s a little better.) In the film, he does something admirable, deciding that as much as he likes this woman, she just isn’t right for him, and backing out before things turn ugly. Good for him. He might not be happy, but he’s free.

I saw Blue Jasmine about two weeks ago. It’s a good film, but very bleak. It starts out looking like a comedy, but as Woody begins to heap more and more misery upon his protagonist, it becomes apparent that she isn’t going to change. She’s a terrible person, and by the end of it, also destitute and deeply delusional. I saw it because I heard it was good and I love Louis C.K. (he’s in, like, ten minutes of it). A few days ago, I was in a bookstore and picked up a book by Tucker Max. I always knew he was a douchebag, but even though I read only about half a chapter, I feel like I got some insight into why he does what he does. He just wants to chill with his bros and bang random skanks. If the skanks enjoy it, who’s getting hurt? Well, for one thing, I’m not sure if the skanks are enjoying it. For another, I’m not sure if Tucker is. He just wants to put one more notch on his bedpost. They just want to say they’ve fucked Tucker Max. Where’s the fun in that?

Louie is one of my favorite shows on TV right now. (When is Netflix gonna add season three? It’s been over a year!) In one of my favorite episodes, a suicidal friend tells him that the worst part of losing his erection while inside the last three women he slept with was realizing that he didn’t want it to come back. Depression is like a weight that just presses down on you all the time. When you lie down, it tickles your feet. When you try to sleep, you’re restless. You can’t make it going away by being hedonistic. There are a lot of happy selfish people out there, but even they have to live with a degree of integrity. You have to know what you want. Then you have to pursue it, knowing full well that you might never get it. Truth be told, you probably won’t.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that depending on the kindness of strangers is a really bad idea.

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