Friday, April 18, 2014

Rock God Revisited

I want to tell you a story about someone.  Someone I was once very close to.

Sean was a friend once.  Hell, he was more than that.  We met on campus in 1992.  He approached me to tell me that my pro-choice button on my lapel sucked . . . but that he admired the guts it took to wear in Mormonville.  It wasn't long before Sean was giving my then-husband guitar lessons in return for tutoring in algebra.  My husband never did master the guitar, though Sean did teach  me the following fancy Allegro (no, that's not Sean playing):

My ex did manage to drag Sean through Algebra--a good thing, as Sean had already failed it twice and had no hope of finishing his degree without it.

When my husband and I separated in 1993, Sean and I embarked on what we affectionately called our "three month stand."  So called because there was no way we could have ever maintained a long-term relationship, so we went into it knowing it was only for a while.  Our politics, our world-views, and especially our relationship with intoxicating substances--none were compatible.  But Sean was fun, smart, impossibly tall, and had long, bleached-blond hair halfway to his ass.  Hey, it was the very early 90s.  Hair was still in.

Before you get any ideas about me, Sean was my THIRD partner.  The other two had been HUSBANDS.  He was my first AND last "fling."

For three months, Sean and I were together almost every moment.  I often blame my car accident, which really did do a number on my "impulse control" and ability to make rational decisions.  No doubt, that was part of it.  Sean had an ex-girlfriend, a toddler, and was only paying 25 bucks a month in child support while his ex (later his wife, even later his ex-wife) was living with (and being supported by) her hyper-disapproving Mormon parents.  We tangled often about that--about his being able to afford smokes and beer but not child support.

I remember one day, the ex showed up at Sean's (he was in a roommate situation with four other college students at a condo owned by the father of one of the students).  She was always nice to me, but always looked utterly wounded by my existence.  She considered me gravely, then said wistfully, "I wish I could be you--then he'd love me forever."

That poor girl.  Sean really did put off a shine that drew you, a warmth that made you feel you needed to be close.  I doubt it ended that way, but for a long time I think she was helpless to resist the draw.

For a few months, I hung out with the band Sean played with, learned how to run their sound board.  I don't say "Sean's Band" because it wasn't--they'd lost their guitarist and he was a hired gun.  They were called "Genghis Khan," and holy cow, they were derivative.  They practiced at an old farmhouse in the country.  Place was crawling with hundreds of ferel cats and kittens.  The vocalist was a Tom Keifer wannabe (vocally--looks-wise he was more a Sam Kinison clone), the other guitarist was so wasted most of the time it was impossible to get much out of him, the bassist . . . wasn't (they had no bass player), and the drummer . . . was sober and so much better than the rest of them. He and Sean should have started a band, left those losers behind.

Instead, he slogged along and fell deeper and deeper into the booze and drugs.

One day, Sean said he was really wishing he was back together with his ex, the mother of his lovely little boy.  I said he should go for it.  And he did.  Sadly, Sean had some serious impulse control issues.  He went back to his ex, I hooked up with my now-husband, yet Sean kept trying to get back with me.  Not for a long-term thing, but a "friends with benefits" arrangement.  He really just never could stop himself.  Something that haunted him all his life.

Finally, his advances became so enraging that I cut off all contact for years.

When we reconnected, it was via Facebook.  He'd gone through years of addiction, had flipped hot and cold hard-core religious (you know how the addiction thing can do that), but his politics had taken a hard swing left.  He admitted to barely remembering me--turns out, he'd been utterly addicted even then.  Most of that time was a blur for him.  We palled around on Facebook for a couple of years, but then he and his latest wife (not sure how many there were, at least two) fell apart.  It started with him taking responsibility, admitting it was his temper, his sarcasm, his drug use, but, as he always said, one of his greatest talents was turning things around on folks, and it went from being his fault to her being a faithless whore in record time.  It was all played out very publicly on his wall, and it was horrible to see.  Like a train wreck of meanness and deceit.

And then, because (he later admitted) this is what he did when things got rough, he turned on me.  And, to be fair, his other friends, too.  There was nothing special about me.  Because addiction circles so often fall into the "higher power" trap, Sean, seemingly out of the blue, went nutty on me over my atheism.  It was insulting, immature, unreasonable, and really quite shocking.  Like I said, "out of the blue."  My response?

I smacked him down so hard my hand is still stinging.

His reaction?

Shock.  He was stunned that I had come back on him.  Said that people usually just took it from him because that's how he was.  That was, in fact, the backbone of his apology:  this is how I am when things aren't going right in my life, and I am helpless to stop myself.  No promise to never do it again, just a wow, sorry I did that, I was out of line, but this is how I am.  Get used to it, because it's sure to happen again.

No.  No, I refused to "get used to it."  And I told him so.  Told him that I was sorry, but that, at my age, I didn't have a place in my world for someone prone to spontaneously erupting on me like that.  I didn't have what it took to tolerate abusiveness or drama.  I didn't NEED to tolerate it.  If he couldn't assure me that this was never, ever, EVER going to happen again, I was going to have to walk away.

He couldn't, and I did.

That was a couple of years ago.  Today, I opened the paper to come across Sean's obituary.

I gasped when I saw it.

Says he died of a perforated ulcer, and I'm sure that's true.  But what he really died of was a life of alcohol and drug abuse and an inability to get his act together in any meaningful way for any real length of time.  Apparently he'd just gotten a new job, was very happy, very optimistic.  But that was Sean--the same scenario played out again and again.  Like he was trapped, doomed to repeat that pattern until . . .

Until now.

Poor Sean.

And my son?  Well, he still plays that old white Ibanez (gone cream-colored with the years) I bought from Sean all those years ago.  Sean had two of them--he kept one, and the other wound up being my son's.  Is there some meaning there?

Probably not.

An update here:  the landlord is booting us, has given us 60 days notice to vacate.  This isn't an eviction--he says we're the best tenants he's ever had, has offered a glowing reference.  But he's selling, and he needs us out so he can do that.  Which leaves us utterly screwed and possibly facing homelessness.  Truly.  So please.

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