with Apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson
by Joe Buonfiglio
After reading the first draft of this Potpourri of the Damned post, I decided to go back and add this cautionary notice at the onset. While I’ll always do my best to craft a humorous read for you, this week’s tale includes some backstory peppered in to brace up “the funny.” As I expose some of my mental — shall we say — “irregularities” in this piece, I want to be sensitive to the fact that some of you may be dealing with mental foibles of your own. If so, you may find the background-narrative interludes I’ve interjected a little — well — heavy. I suggest getting a glass of wine— No, I suggest getting a bottle of wine before diving in. And while it all lays the foundation for the ha-ha stuff, I get it if you’re not into my psychological profile traversed as if some sort of nostalgic stroll down memory lane. I think it’s worth it and you should just press on. Sorry in advance if you wind up not agreeing with me on this. Pissing you off or otherwise upsetting you is certainly not my goal — at least not this time — but I’m not going to throw in obvious “HUMOR IS NEXT” signposts should you want to scroll through and skip to those parts. But hey, since consuming the misery of others tends to make us feel better about ourselves, why not pretend it’s reality TV and go along for the whole ride. Hell, it may just make your day.
And now back to your regularly scheduled program.…
YOUR PENIS AND YOU — So you’ve read the title of this week’s post and have already decided I’m going down some disgusting path of doggy-style doings and dildo depravity. Well buck up, buttercup. While you could be right — I honestly have absolutely no idea what conspiracy my mind and keyboard have conjured up to fill the white pages before me — I don’t think it will lead to what you’re imagining it will and, quite frankly, has historically been the case. But let’s find out, shall we?
Many years ago, I took a psychological-profile test apparently designed to reveal one’s personality deficiencies for all to enjoy. And while it was administered to me in a manner as casual as getting a flu shot, the damage done was far greater than any fever-driven mucus-fest could have hoped to inflict. So as my fellow adolescent Guinea pigs found out shit like they’re introverted or should work in the hospitality industry, for me the test revealed that I had the foundation of “Jekyll & Hyde Syndrome” percolating in my little brain.
Now, this is a fairly fucking big thing to dump in the lap of a teenager. Because to the Community of Shrinks in Quack Head-Case Examiners Local #839, J&Hs are considered psychopathic. People start to look at you differently once they know the “you” they think they know may not be the “you” they’re talking to at the moment. Or if you are, that could completely change in the next moment. Hell, you start looking at yourself differently.
When Dr. Jekyll is in the house, he’s a generous, kindhearted, honest and respectable person; even jovial and fun to be around. But in the time it takes for Harvey “Two-Face” Dent to flip a coin, some trigger welcomes in the dark side. Mr. Hyde can be an emotionally abusive, angry, explosive character capable of outright evil. And since psychopaths that commit horrendous, violent crimes often are described as being this type of person, I’m pretty sure hearing this news about myself is the point where I went from a straight beer-guy into hard whiskey.
Was this personality evaluation right? Was this the man I was fated to be? Would I wind up arguing with myself in movie theater lobbies about simultaneously wanting both popcorn without butter and popcorn drenched in butter?
Well, maybe. This “one minute a force for good, the next a force for evil” thing may not have been far from the mark. Years later, subsequent sessions on a therapist’s couch revealed that I do have these frightening traits intermixed with having to do things in an “all or nothing” manner; extremely one way or the exact opposite. I go back and forth on whether I’m some sort of character out of a Robert Louis Stevenson novel, but my wife would probably tell you that “Jekyll and Hyde” is an apt description.
She’d also tell you that I don’t do the laundry enough, but that’s her little red wagon. Touching all those dirty undies is just creepy.
It just is.
You know I’m right.
Now this quirk of persona has an upside in some arenas. I tend to see things in absolute terms. For example, I was a pretty damn good journalist for years, since I saw everything in black and white; no shades of grey. There was right. There was wrong. Nothing in between. However, dealing in such extremes, the consequences in the realm of human interaction are dicey. I can find myself the “life of the party” or I can have the cops keeping a close eye on me at the town council meeting. Couple this with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and “The Black Wave” (depression), and you have the makings of a life cut out for no other profession than writing …
… or professional thumb-wrestler. I’m proficient at that and writing … and the hording of stationery supplies. I’m a whore for pens and Post-it Notes. And jelly. I love jelly. Always thought I’d be great at being the guy whose job it was to inject jelly into doughnuts. Or cream. You know, that cream filling that comes in—
Where was I? Oh. Right. Anyway, I’d be okay at that other stuff, but writing is really the only thing at which I have any hope of making a living … or a life, for that matter.
So if you keep both my Jekyll and my Hyde cloistered in a little room together banging out words in a fantasy realm, you’ll be fine. Set me loose upon the world and you do so at your own risk.
To your benefit?
To your peril?
Who knows? It depends who’s there when you open the door.
So, why am I bothering you with this self-indulgent ride at the theme park known as Joe Buonfiglio. Well, I think it’s interesting that all this Madness d’ Revelation was launched in a high school health class.
That’s right. The pronouncement that I was most likely a mentally unstable person was delivered unto me via a high school “health” class. Interjecting self-fulfilling prophecy into the already unbalanced, hormonally charged lunacy of teenager and his view of the world seems to me as if a perfectly responsible thing to do, don’t you? What could possibly go wrong? It is perfectly safe.…
… Much in the way that having a sleepover at Freddy Krueger’s house is “perfectly safe.”
And what the hell is up with the “health” nomenclature anyway. High school “health” class? Where’s the “truth in advertising” in that? They only call it “health” class to keep potentially outraged religious-fundamentalist parents from demanding the entire school board be fired. Because, we all know from personal experience that if you shine the light of veracity on it, the class should be called YOUR PENIS AND YOU alternating with YOUR VAGINA AND YOU alternating with the follow-up course of YOUR PENIS IN HER VAGINA / HIS PENIS IN YOUR VAGINA … … … AND YOU.
I briefly had the notion — probably driven by Mr. Hyde — to hunt down these so-called professional educators that approved such a delightfully sadistic curriculum additive as a tool with which to poke around in the dark recesses of my already disturbed teenage subconscious. However, my desire to then drive dull, unsharpened No. 2 pencils into their brains for condemning me to a life of surreal existence quickly subsided, as their inadvertently harmful program actually had an unintended and positive side effect. It stimulated what I refer to today as my Muse.
It appears that when you suffer from the “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (with apologies to the aforementioned Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson), as with the good doctor, your angels and your demons emanate from the same place. Both the good man and the monster stimulate the creative juices. So what if one likes to make his loved one breakfast in bed and the other spends the mortgage money on lottery tickets; they both enjoy a good laugh.
So thank you; not only to Mr. Stevenson, the creator of my psychotic-condition’s namesake, but also to my genitalia-inspired teachers of old. For you see, this isn’t meant as an indictment of our American education system. It’s an indictment of American society in its entirety; a society that can give rise to such madmen as myself.
Who’s that at the door, honey?
Why, it’s a man collecting for charity … … … holding a machete dripping with blood.
That’s just my friend Joe, babe.
Should I let him in?
NO! HELL NO!
© 2014 Joseph P. Buonfiglio All Rights Reserved.