Monday, 13 February 2012
Some Scars Never Heal Part 25
"Whitney Houston is dead," he said.
Something sank to the pit of my stomach as once again I contrasted in my mind the beautiful girl smiling in seventeen magazine to the strung-out wreck Whitney Houston became.
She blamed her ex-husband for getting her hooked on drugs, and I believed her. I believed her because I once saw her as a young woman on television, totally out of it, as she thanked and praised her husband, and I thought something was seriously creepy and wrong about the way they interacted. So did other people: there were many rumours in the press before the, uh, reality show.
My thought back then and now was "What does she see in him?" We are talking about one of the most musically gifted women in the world, after all. Her mother was a famous singer. Her cousins were famous singers. Her godmother was Aretha Franklin. There is no reason why she should have been particularly impressed with a well-known R&B singer, graduate of a boy band, but she was.
The most important decision of your adult life is whether or not to marry this or that particular person. Did I say marry? I also mean "go to bed with" because although obviously not having the same psychological weight, that can be a very big deal just in itself. My intuition tells me that a lot of girls marry men they are not so sure about because, whoops, they have slept with them already.
(The Catechism mentions very sternly that it is not okay to sleep with your fiancee, I've noticed. It singles out fiancees, for some reason. I think that reason is that too many Catholics are sleeping with "fiancees" that somehow they never marry or later divorce. But maybe this is a subject for a different post.)
I have seen men and women trapped in horribly toxic relationships that neither can escape. They niggle at each other and drink together and drug together and cheat on each other and plot against each other and blame each other and break up and end up back in bed. Repeat. It is horrible to watch, and now my mother is wondering how I even came to meet people like that. But it isn't the people, really. It's the dynamic. Sometimes A meets B and horrible things happen. The rocks in A's head fit the holes in B's head. If A had met C long before B and B had gotten together with D, A and B would both have been healthier, happier people.
The power of "This is Bigger Than Both of Us" may be impressive, but it is not romantic, however a film director lights it. Someone had to clean Nancy Spungen's blood off the bathroom floor. Someone had to break the news to her mom and dad.
Nobody knows yet exactly how and why Whitney Houston was found dead in a bathtub at the age of 48. Possibly my fellow bloggers and columnists will point to the tragedy as a cautionary tale against narcotics because even if the star wasn't using them, it may be that her poor abused body just gave up. But I think it is also a symbol of how tragic it can be to get mixed up with the wrong man or woman.
The wrong man or wrong woman may not necessarily be a "bad boy" or a "bad girl", but it strikes me that they so often are. On the surface "bad boys" (and perhaps "bad girls", if they aren't simply terrifying) can look like exciting departures from ordinary lives that somehow seem boring. I suppose, though, that if you scratch an exciting "bad boy", you find someone who is terrified of boredom, and hence his "bad boy" behaviour. Mayhem is his way of keeping boredom at bay.
One of the luckier developments of my life is that I got so sick of the crazy behaviour of "bad boys" that I developed an attraction to goodness in boys. And at the same time I began to study critical realism, which helped overcome my tendency to see, not reality, but only what I wanted to see. I met many kindly young male religious who unconsciously provided models of what Nice Catholic Boys could be like: fun, grounded, confident, motivated, bright.
Also good for my psyche, I eventually dated a really Nice Catholic Boy, although I absolutely hated dancing with him (an expert waltzer) because I loathe being pushed and pulled around a dance floor, which is what dancing with very talented leads feels like to me. (Give me the awkward but cheerful enthusiast any day.) Being pushed and pulled around, physically or mentally, does not make me think "Oh wow! Attractive male dominance. Whoo-hoo!" It makes me miserable.
Perhaps the saddest proof of the Fall is seriously messed up relationships between men and women. Yeah, women like men to be confident and strong. And, yeah, men like women to look pretty. But this does not preclude the importance of being decent to each other. It is so easy not to be. But the number one relationship rule that I can think of, ripped straight from Bill & Ted, is merely "Be decent to each other." Be decent.