In 12 hours Mr. X will be dead. He fell down his stairs and is now screaming at the paramedics to be left alone. He wife sits somewhere in the living room, as unable to stop him from dying as she was unable to stop him from drinking. Not that she tried, not that she would try, why bother. Mr. X says he is fine, but he isn’t, he is broken, in many places, three of those places are located in the neck area. Finally the police are called to force Mr. X to the hospital, where he dies, twelve hours later.
As I was told this story I tried to picture this man, angry and broken on his living room floor. In my mind he was red faced, fowl mouthed and fat. I was surprised to find out the next day, when I read the paper and saw a picture of the him I realized he was none of those. I’m not sure what I expected Mr. X to look like but respectable wasn’t a description that would have come to mind. The obit photo showed a smiling good looking man. I guess they wouldn’t put a picture of him drunk and disorderly in the paper, but still. I also didn’t expect to see a list of articles about this man, bestowing his virtues as an outstanding citizen.
I was told the last visit by the police and paramedics to his house was not the first, but one of many. So, as always I am drawn to filling in the blanks. How can someone who attracted such admiration be such a different person in private, and are we all different in private? Well obviously some more different than others. My father for example was a very likable man in public but in private he roamed the house fighting his demons. He, like all of us, needed a place to let go, a place where he could let all the ugliness out.
But my father didn’t dive down a flight of stairs. He just bitched, like the rest of us, then walked out the door and smiled at the world.
Mr. X on the other hand, from what I can tell from the articles written about him was somewhat feistier. He rode his opinion like a chariot and wore his self righteousness like a badge of honour. Hey, everyone has their self defined role in life, and obviously that was his, so, if he was fulfilling it so well, why was he so miserable at home? Why was his outside world so different from his inside world, why did his success not translate into happiness?
We all have an outside person and an inside person. Maybe it’s just a matter of degrees. The closer you get to stream lining the two together the happier you are, the further…well, less happy. I guess it makes sense that the less you have to try to be someone else for everyone else, the more energy you have for a pleasant private life, or not.
Maybe it’s just genetic.
I remember a friend of mine telling me that his mother would describe her sister as a House devil but a street angel. I guess back in the day, kids who were nasty at home and nice outside the home were considered to possess two different personalities. I wonder if those are the people destined to for the fate of Mr. X. If so, my heart goes out to them, and even more, the people who love them.