Friday, November 03, 2006

You Will Tell Me Your Whole Heart

As I sat in a darkening office years ago, a man I was interviewing for a promotional piece about his computer business for a fluff mail circular rolled up his sleeves and showed me his arms. He prefaced this action by saying, I'm going to show you something that I don't show to many people. I eyed the exit as one is wont to do in those situations. Huge scars lined both of his arms, a veritable Jacob's ladder of misery written on his body. I've tried to kill myself several times, he said. By then, I was familiar with self-cutting (a form of mutilation, but not a suicidal behavior) so I was surprised that he'd coded it as such. Everyone I knew that had done themselves in had always used a gun. Or the slower version of booze, drugs, and fights, the traditional body blows. The light in the window faded from grey to dark blue, but he made no move for the lights. I'm doing what I love, he said. I have a staff that makes sure I stay on my meds. I'm extremely bipolar. Nodding, I said, You don't say. I had to take a picture to accompany the article so I made for my camera. I have to shave, he said, rolling down his sleeves, and went into a back room. I thought about razorblades and prayed to the good Lord that he had an electric razor.

I'd gotten this job easier than any other -- a man came into the social work center where I was working to drop off some ads and said, I'm having trouble finding a freelance writer. My friend Phyllis pointed to me and said, She's a writer. And he said, Okay then. I started writing articles every couple of weeks, the usual litany of small business owners and my mind-numbing questions -- What's the best part of owning your own business? I'm the boss! The worst? The long hours. So I was ever so grateful for the occasional live one -- the carwash owner who told me that capitalists sucked and he'd become someone he loathed, the restaurant owner who told me his wife had had seven miscarriages and become a zombie (adding to the strangeness of this encounter, said wife was in the room, serving us food -- in addition to the zombie issue, she didn't speak any English) and now Mr. Bipolar with the job he loved. I had no idea why people told me such personal things -- certainly they knew as well as I did that it wouldn't be used in the final piece which would be the equivalent of a paid advertisement. I often thought of Delilah saying to Samson, If you love me, you will tell me your whole heart. Like most writers, I was a good audience who wouldn't betray their secrets, at least until now.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"If I seem free, it's because I'm always running." Jimi Hendrix

Cocktail Hour

Drinking movie suggestion: Slingblade (Between the tour de force performance of Billy Bob, the comic brilliance of the great John Ritter and of course, my boy Dwight Yoakum as Doyle, you must see this movie.)

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy All Souls Day! I'll be posting pictures of my Day of the Dead shrines in the next few days. In Memoriam -- William Styron, author of Sophie's Choice and Darkness Visible. Darkness Visible is a great memoir about Styron's battle with depression.


Sheila said...

Oh my God that is so crazy. I just don't understand people who continually cut themselves and all of that sort of thing. Weird. It is good that you kept private what they wanted too, even now you don't give names, you are a good friend and person.

Special said...

It's amazing the way you can get confessions without even being a priest.

Short bus. said...

Yeah, it is. Nice panties.

Ollie Shriner said...

Wear the red hat with the little tassle coming out of the top.

Stan Shriner said...

Yeah, that's a good one, Ollie.

Ollie Shriner said...

Why, thank you, Stanley.

Stan Shriner said...

Don't mention it. It's my pleasure, Ollie.

Ollie Shriner said...

Hey, Stan. Let's ask Michelle if she'd like to join the Foreign Legion with us. She's French, you know.

Stan Shriner said...

Good idea.

r's musings said...

I loved Sophie's Choice. Sounds like a good memoir, another book to add to my shopping list, along with poetry by Sylvia Plath and a few others. Thanks, M! Cute photo!

paul said...

CajunQueen, rock out Foxy Lady Land Hendrixfreejoplinnothinglefttolose i'mmorecrawlinkingsnakethanrunningdixiebut life'sgood you rock Mighty Isis madeintheshade R2 C2 Shazammmmmm!

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've dealt with my share of cutters, and from what I've learned, they want attention, someone to listen to them.

Tim said...

You must give the impression of being a good listener and a caring person for people to tell you things so personal, a rare quality anymore.

miss chief said...

just found your blog via tui. really enjoyed reading and will visit again.

Laura said...

Such a sad story. I don't understand how people can do that sort of thing to themselves.

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle,
Another lovely view and post as always. I really enjoy how your underpinnings are color coordinated with the hanging thread, and those sunglasses are something. I think I recognize that setting. To you brave and ever so charming Catholic girl, Bravo!

Bird on a Wire said...

I don't know about you, but when it comes to material for a writer, I find that these bizarre interactions are the best.

Anonymous said...

People used to tell me extremely personal things even though we would barely know each other.

Then one day I went off about it. "Why are these strangers telling me these things!"

It hasn't happened since.

bonnie said...

Oh honey, ain't no man gonna every stop you, ever. Woe to the clueless pretend smartypants dumbheads who dream of boxing you in. Hehe ;)
kiss kiss

Eric said...

one day
ask me
and the words
will all
come as one
from my
to yours

e-bag said...

and in case
that day never comes
i will write
and my heart
will be

edsel e earheart said...

one more for twenty
you told me
writers need to be their own biggest fans
I just would like to help lighten the burden a little bit
skinny as these bones be
I will gladly carry the whole damn thing