The latest sociopath to fascinate me is perhaps one of the saddest stories of all. “A” had just graduated from Harvard when he enrolled in NYU Law School. I was a third year law student at the time and heavily involved with the school’s annual musical comedy, “The Law Revue” (NOT, the school’s highly esteemed legal publication, the Law Review). I was a producer and a writer as well as a performer. My fellow producers and I interviewed a number of potential Directors, and despite the fact that A had no experience with our vision of the Law Revue, we hired him on the spot. He was musically gifted, he was an experienced community theater actor, singer and director and he had an arrogant wit that was infectious.
A took over and promptly steamrolled all of us. I hated his guts for casting a first year student in the part of “Spacey Jones”, the hippie, trippy lead female whose roll was as the heart center of the story, which involved the mysterious deaths/murders of students and professors of the school, which were ultimately solved by a set of “Keystone Kops”. Spacey’s part included a rendition of “On My Own” (different words, of course) from Les Miserables. It was the part I had written for myself. It was the chance I took in not taking over the director reigns, myself, but directing was not my thing. Singing and musical comedy was.
However, as a producer, I had the power to right the wrong in another way: I created a new role for myself and for two fellow-veteren Law Revue performers, Heidi and Laura. We became “The Heathers”, essentially a Greek Chorus that showed up throughout, commenting on the murderous action and performing two absolutely fabulous girl-group tunes. One was sung to the tune of “Beauty School Dropout” from Grease. The other was sung to the tune of the Sherelles “Remember: Walking in the Sand”, which you may not have heard of, but it’s on iTunes, if you’re interested, and it’s catchy in a moody, minor-key way.
“It’s been a rotten day,”
“Our boyfriends passed away…”
I was Heather Number One. So, if you’ve seen the movie, Heathers, you’ll know that I got to die on stage. It was a beautiful death, occuring right in the middle of the song. As I sang, and Heidi and Laura did their doo-wop backup, they sprayed me with “poisoned hairspray”, and as I sang my “Oh no. Oh no. Oh no no no no no“‘s, I sputtered, clutched my throat and crashed to the floor like Heather Chandler in the original movie (freakish factoid: the actress who played Heather Chandler, Kim Walker, who was known for her famous scathing putdown, “What, did you eat a brain tumor for breakfast?” died an untimely death of a brain tumor sometime in the 1990’s).
But I digress.
Our esteemed director, A, was cooperative with this vanity maneuver on my part, and I forgave him for his arrogance. Later that year, I graduated from NYU Law School and never saw A again. Nor did I ever hear of him again.
Until this past week, when my eye fell upon his name on a page of the New York Times Metro Section that had fallen open on the breakfast table. It was one of the Times’ paid death notices, and it was written by two other NYU Law graduates, who were extending their sincerest condolences to the wife and children of A.
Oh my God! What???
These friends of A wrote of A’s talent as a lawyer (he had become a partner at a major, major NYC law firm), as a singer, as a parent and as a spouse. They also wrote of A’s “previous joy of life”. Excuse me? Previous? I mean, I understand that he was no longer enjoying life, but he was also no longer enjoying being a lawyer, singer, parent or spouse. Why the use of “previous” in relation to “joy of life”? What did that mean?
I had my suspicions. I called up my friend, Kim, who is always the first one to call me when someone we know has died, and said, “I think that someone I knew from law school killed himself. But I’m not sure yet.”
Then this morning, I googled A. And sure enough, there was an article in a Westchester paper that told of how his body had been found in a local preserve, no evidence of foul play. Or at least no evidence of foul play coming from the outside. It turned out that A had attempted suicide a month before. A fairly girly attempt at that: a little wrist slitting.
But why? Why would a 39-year old father of three, partner in a prestigious law firm slit his wrists and then finish the job a month later?
My sleugling (sleuthing via google) brough further answers. And be ready. This is shocking and terrible. A had been involved in a scandal in Atlanta, Georgia at the end of this past summer. Apparently, after a night of partying and clubbing, this married father of three invited a twenty-something woman to his hotel room where only they know what happened, but which quickly led to A’s arrest on charges of rape and assualt.
When A killed himself, he was out of jail on a quarter of a million dollars in bail.
How do these things happen? What goes on in the minds of people like A? Like Daisy and Tom?
When I saw that Yogamum was writing a novel this month, I longed to do the same. I longed to get into the heads of some of these people I have known who have fallen so far from so high. But don’t know how to start. I don’t think I could stay focused for long enough to write more than a blog-entry on any of it. But I wish I could…