A Cautionary Tale for White Knights and Good Girls…

Posted: June 9, 2011 in Assholes, Humans

(you should prolly read this first)

Once Upon A Time….

There existed a Black Knight we will call M, and a Damsel in Disturbia we will call E.

M was a very slick sort: good looking, smart, but more so than smart, cunning.  M could read people like an open book in a matter of seconds and somehow, in some way, just managed to know how to play anyone and everyone they ever met.  M was also disturbingly charismatic in an offhanded, almost awkward way.  Funny yet very, very intense, with eyes that could probably burn through walls and souls with equal ease.  M had an incredible gift for drawing people in, making them feel good, making them feel special, but was also just obviously off enough that M was terribly, terribly interesting and many people who met M?  Well, they wanted to know more. 

 M wasn’t particularly physically imposing, but there was something about them, their style, a way of speaking or moving or that slick, strange not quite right intensity that people found fascinating…which, of course, M learned to take advantage of.

 Because while on the outside M was alluring and magnetic and interesting, on the inside, M was a cold, hateful, wrathful, envious, twisted callous rotting shell of a soul, in pain but so hard and hardened they’d dulled themselves to it in all ways but one.  That one way?  They’d forged it into a desire to break…things.  Bones, Illusions, People, Spirits, Minds, and well, the whole damn world.  M loved victory and revenge and conquest and destruction and then looking around at all the rubble they’d left in their wake.  In short, M liked breaking and hurting people whenever the whim moved them, and if people were stupid enough to let them?  Well, then so be it.

 E was a frail sort: plenty of brains but no brawn, funny and smart, creative, attractive in a subtle, delicate way, loyal and caring and kind, but E was afflicted – for some reason- with a want and need to be something other than what they were.  Special, different, respected, the one who stood out in the crowd, and yes, because E had been kicked around- literally and in a lot of ways- important.  E was always near the center of the crowd, but never THE center of the crowd.  E was charming and fun and polite and articulate, but never quite as much as any of those things at the right time or with the right people as they wanted.  E had big dreams and big ambitions and really had everything in the form of ground work that could have sent them on a very different path: brains, personality, privilege, talents, but for E that wasn’t enough.  In truth, nothing ever was.

 On the outside E was a fun loving, kind, witty, wonderful, smart, good person from a nice family with so many things going for them, but on the inside, E never looked at the good and strong about them, only the weak and wrong and wanting.

 And one day, M met E, and in M, E saw everything they ever wanted and wanted to be, and in E, M saw a piece of meat they could rip apart and leave to rot in the dust.  The person who was always at the center but wanted to tear everything around them apart and be left alone to watch it bleed had run across the loner who wanted to be the middle of the world and the focus of  its very crowded center. It was, as they say, an instant attraction.  And the two hit it off like a house on fire.  Road trips, parties, drugs, sex, booze, long intense conversations both sober and wrecked, M feeding E’s need and ego with nothing actually helpful, but with pure poison.  But it worked.  E found themselves fully and totally in M’s grasp, and once M had them there, well, then for M, the real fun began.

 The violence, the abuse, the alternating between affection and ignoring, the snide disdain and amazing devotion.  A compliment followed by a fist followed by an apology… followed by a fist.  The insults.  The breaking down.  Beatings that ended in hospital visits and vicious words and berating that ended in tears. The horrible but also the occasional wonderful- the rare but amazing compliment, the moments where E was the only thing in M’s world, the tender façade, but that was always followed by what really lived under M’s quirky smile…and then E snapped.  Lost themselves and reality and everything else.  Went, quite literally, mad.  They were quite broken.  Drug addicted, in horrible health, mentally unsound, paranoid- wrecked, wasted, and destroyed, and in E’s head, the only thing they had left worth living for was….

 M.

 And that’s when M walked out. MissionAccomplished.  Smiling at the wreckage in their wake.  But what M did not realize was they had, in doing what they’d done, created a whole different sort of monster.  One that would always and forever now…Need.  And that monster would not let go.  No matter how many times M would kick it, it would crawl back.  No matter how many times M would hang up the phone, E would just call again.  No matter how many times M would slap, punch, burn, dose, violate, degrade, devalue and dehumanize E, E still swore to be in love with the monster who had walked out. 

 And M, being whom and what they are, grew sick of it.  There was no more fun in it; their toy was beyond broken and no good for playing with anymore.   But stuck in M’s decidedly fucked up life and head, there was E, a rotting shell of human being complete with flies that buzzed away in M’s brain endlessly.  M tried, in their own twisted way, to talk E into killing themselves…but it didn’t work…

 And E’s need made M ponder doing the job themselves, but obviously not.  Why?  Well, the why is something I do not know.  Sense of self preservation? Fear?  Maybe even some small sense of guilt?  Who knows.  Both of them are still around today, E & M.  E limps through life addicted and sick and in truth, permanently harmed both physically and mentally from M antics, probably Damaged in Countless ways beyond Repair, and not wanting repair anyway…and still in love with M.  M slips through life like a shark, often hiding what they really are under that quirky grin and strange, slightly off style, but with a long chain of a rotting E tethered to their ankle and those flies buzzing in their brains, probably also Beyond Repair and Not wanting it anyway.

 Karma?  Justice?  A deserving end for both?  Who knows…. 

 Based on A True Story.  

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Comments
  1. Erik Schwarz says:

    Ye gods, what a horrifying tale! Makes my broken engagement seem like a walk in the park, bowl full of cherries, skittles and beer – or the trope of your choice. Deserves to be illustrated, but only Edward Gorey or William Blake could do full justice to the gothic horror you limn.

    • Ren says:

      ummm skittles and beer….gonna have to try that combo later.

      • Erik Schwarz says:

        The “skittles” referenced in the phrase is a pub game – very much like puck bowling – rather than the fruit-flavored sweets. Beer combines nicely with skittles, or puck bowling, but not so much with candy. If you must, I recommend a light beer that is not too hoppy. The late lamented Jax, for instance, or perhaps a Mexican brew like Sol. If I were a wicked Black Knight, I would inveigle you with candy corn and Guinness just to see you blow. But I am a reformed character.

  2. rootietoot says:

    I’ve had skittles and vodka.

    What a tale, I’ve known people similar, and tend to steer clear of them because they’re both so broken they can’t be fixed except by some miracle straight from the hand of God. He’d lock her in the basement when he went to work, she’d be right there waiting when he got home, anxiously hoping for a scrap or bone of some sort. Last I heard they had 6 kids and lived in Tennessee.

    • Erik Schwarz says:

      You write “Tennessee” as though it were synonymous with the Ninth Circle of Hell.

    • Ren says:

      what has always baffled me about M and E was it was pretty aparent that M liked breaking things, even people, and was not even all that -stealthy- about it, and E STILL considers M this great and shining thing in their life.

      • Erik Schwarz says:

        Whatever you do, don’t rob her of her illusions. Sounds as though they are just about all she has left.

        • Ren says:

          Um where ever in that post did it say E was a …she? I do not recall mentioning gender AT ALL.

          • Erik Schwarz says:

            Indeed, you specified neither gender nor species. “M” may be a manatee, and “E” an emu. So the redacted comment should read: “don’t rob it of its illusions.” An ungendered emu undone by a manatee is a piteous thing.

            • Ren says:

              Well see, this is interesting in its own right and plays into the sexism angle over all as well. I am willing to guess, regardless of my use of genderless references or not….99% of people would assume E to be female, and M to be male. I actually know the two of them and thus their respective genders, but AUTOMATICALLY people are going to assume that the BK is male and the DD female. I sort of wonder why that is? Is it because of the physical violence aspect, or because “women don’t do that and are victims of it”, or that No Man Would Tolerate That Treatment from a Woman, or men are not DD’s…..see,this TOO fascinates me.

              Now, truth is, I obviously know the genders of M and E. And the assumptions that will come (m-male, e-female), well, I expected those even with the my intentionally non-specific language. I may in fact at one point Spill it. Could be M is male and E female, or they are both men, or both women,or the opposite of what will be the over-riding assumption- but I am not gonna yet….BECAUSE I want folk TO consider their latent (or not so latent) sexism in assuming M-Male, E-Female, just because that’s what…well….sexism says it will be and in that is what MOST of society would assume: Its a Heterosexual dynamic with the Male Solidly in the M Role and the Female solidly in the E role.

              This mode of thinking DESERVES to be challenged.

              • Roy Kay says:

                I notice the lack of sexual identifiers and wondered if that was going to be revealed. In truth, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that people grow up with a better ability to protect themselves; and, if possible, not to prey on other people.

                I appreciate the way you wrote this.

                • Ren says:

                  actually, it does matter, because it Not Mattering is what allows people to disregard or not take seriously violence and destructive patterns in homosexual relationships or, yep, even relationships where men are abused….which hey, it does happen. So damn skippy it matters. If NO ONE ever challenges the M must be male and E must be female ideaology, then a LOT of harm and pain is never gonna get addressed or taken seriously because it is NOT what people assume to be the norm and thus not worthy of looking into.

                  Saying it doesn’t matter is a cop out.

                  • Roy Kay says:

                    Okay. My context was “it shouldn’t matter”, and that is because it doesn’t matter to me.

                    However, the way you narrated it does matter, because you are performing a bit of a psychological experiment on your readers as a secondary objective. Knowing your perspectives and willingness to shock people out of their comfort zone, the experiment was pretty transparent. If I hadn’t been reading you for 5/6/? years, I’d still pick up on “they”, because that’s how I de-genderize too, but wouldn’t have seen it as an experiment.

              • Erik Schwarz says:

                Okay, okay like Winnie the Pooh I fell into your clever heffalump trap, and like Winnie I am unmasked as a dreadful sexist running dog colonialist pseudocrat and a nattering nabob of negativity. Or would be if only I could get that damned honey pot unstuck from my head.

                I still wonder whether “E” might be an emu and “M” a manatee. Without the anthropomorphic angle, the tale does not seem to ascend to the dignity of Tragedy but instead limps towards its risible sibling (ha! non-gendered language!) Melodrama.

              • xena says:

                I assumed the same, but bc of the beatings. I have yet to meet a Dood in Disturbia who puts up with beatings from women. Men will get violent when they’re broken, more often than women will. I’ve seen many violent women, but more violent men. And only about 5% of the violent women I’ve met defend themselves against abusive boyfriends/husbands. They fight other women, not men.

                M&E are very unlikely to be a lesbian couple. Statistically, lesbians are the least likely to abuse each other, or their children.

                Also, E chased M, even after the abuse. Men, especially the broken ones, are more concerned with the arm candy aspects of a relationship. Looks and sex appeal matter, bc a guy is usually out to impress his buddies with his latest conquest. Even more so when the guy is broken. My guess is that M is definitely male and started obsessing over getting rid of E when their looks went. A person can’t live with that cycle of addiction&abuse without looking like a bag of shit. People like M don’t see any conquest in pounding shitbags.

                Unfortunately, I’ve seen gay men treat each other like this. M&E could very well be gay men.

      • dead_vladimir says:

        I would suggest at this point then that E may not value M for anything other than the destructive force, just like the drug issues and health issues E may have M is another form of self destruction, they love them like an addict loves heroin -knowing the high also comes with destruction?
        that E wants M to destroy them on some level? (or wanted?)

        • Ren says:

          You know, you could really be on to something there. E has some of the “I deserve it ” going on, and M seems happy to dish it out….so, yeah, could very well be….

          • dead_vladimir says:

            ah but then the question who is really treating who like a thing then? In that case really E is the one not valuing M as a person and rather using them to fill some sick need–which i think is what happens in a lot of these bad person-good person savior scenarios

            lots of time though the supposed masochistic savior mistakes the depths of the other’s depravity or really indifference– basically bites off more then they can chew or doesn’t realzie past a poitn you can’t cry stop with those sort of people

            • Ren says:

              the whole thing is twisted. I think lack of respect is at this point probably mutual, but manifested in VERY different ways….but is very probably neither sees the other as, well, human as it were. I am fairly certain if M put a gun to E’s head, E would not object in the least and might even thank them for it, so long as they finished the job. M, however, probably figures E is not worth prison time or getting blood and grey matter on their shoes.

  3. dead_vladimir says:

    well hopefully maybe one of them will develop the ability to walk away at some point–else these things tend to end tragically

    • Erik Schwarz says:

      Or melodramatically. In the film version, Bette Davis could play one role and – since we are avoiding heterosexual gender stereotyping – Miss Piggy the other. Or, if Ren prefers, Donald Duck and Dirk Bogarde.

      • Ren says:

        generally Erik, I think you are pretty funny….but I consider this to be a serious topic and one I wouldn’t mind having, oh, serious comments and conversation ON. Take that as you will.

        • Erik Schwarz says:

          Okay, seriously, bits of M and E remind me of bits of people I know, and I hope they can straighten out their lives, But there is something a bit self-indulgent – I shall not resort to that overused word “privileged” – about their miserableness. Writing as I am from a city where kids are shot in the streets every week and living in a world where 1 1/2 billion people struggle to survive on a dollar a day or less, I cannot get terribly exercised about a couple who are immiserating themselves. Perhaps my attitude reflects a failure of empathy – a quality you yourself claim to possess only a modicum of – but so be it. If M and E are friends of yours, you have every right to take their plight seriously, but what are M and E to me or I to M and E, to paraphrase Hamlet baldly.
          Perhaps the matter you intend us to take seriously is not the personal predicament of M and E but rather the persistence of gender-role assumptions. This is not an unserious topic, but gender roles are fairly broken down in our culture and well on their way to further breakage. If we want to get serious about fixed gender roles and the real harm and pain they can occasion, let us consider the developing world and in particular its zones of conflict. There men do almost all of the fighting, and women and children do a vastly disproportionate share of the suffering. Even where conflict is not present, women suffer brutal disempowerment, and gender roles are enforced not only via social codes but legal ones. I have met some of the women (yes, and some men too) leaders in that world who are working for positive change under very real threats, and I find nothing funny nor self-indulgent about their situation or them. Well, you asked for a serious comment, and here it is, though I doubt you will much like it.

          • Ren says:

            I don’t know if I would call M privileged. E, yes. M? Not so much at all. The point is, people LIKE them are the ANTI to the PRO of the leaders and doer’s and organizers you know and have met….and it is people like them who, well, in different sorts of positions give the world their Stalin’s and Pol Pots. They are examples of a greater SORT of people in the world, and an element / aspect of humanity people LIKE to ignore. Not so sure that is a good idea…. one of them is violent, one of them is draining…both things that various humans are that CAUSE problems when one is looking to save the world!

            It would be real easy for some folk to say It doesnt matter if people beat their spouses or kids or threaten their neighbors or drive and whatever drugged out and produce nothing in society because HEY, other people are out there DOING IMPORTANT THINGS….but see, the M’s and E’s of the world? They are the other side of the Go Rah Yay Humans coin, and so long as Your Ernest Hard Working Motivated Sorts have to Share the planet with them…well gee, worth mentioning IMHO.

            • Erik Schwarz says:

              Even the poorest Americans are privileged by comparison to the poor of the developing world, where food and medicine, let alone education or secure shelter, are often out of reach. I write this from a position of witness, via my work at two organizations, one of which engages domestic and the other global poverty.

              As for Stalin and Pol Pot, I submit that both they and the societies that gave them rise are a different kettle of fish from M and E and their milieu . Stalin was, of all things, a seminarian. He became a Bolshevik organizer and managed to survive seven deportations to Siberia. After the revolution, he eventually outmaneuvered both Lenin and Trotsky, developed the secret police and spy services of the new regime, and conducted the purges, collectivizations and ethnic cleansings that killed tens of millions and reshaped the demography of the Soviet Union. Stalin also made real contributions to Marxist theory and picked up a Nobel Peace Prize nomination after WWII. A truly terrible and formidable man, and no garden-variety nasty. Sort of a combination of Jerry Falwell, J. Edgar Hoover, Bill Donovan and George Lincoln Rockwell forged and tempered by a virulent totalitarianism beyond the ken of most of us contemporaries. About Pol Pot, I know much less, and I think we tend to view him almost exclusively through the lens of the Killing Fields, I do know that he came from a wealthy, privileged background and studied in Paris. Near the end of his life, he is believed to have ordered the deaths of some dozen members of his own family. Pol Pot and Stalin might be monstres sacres, but the masses who supported them, marched under their orders and staffed their states were in fact Earnest Hard Working Motivated Sorts rather than paragons of dysfunction. Perhaps the great question is how and why certain confluences of history, politics, economics and culture can induce ordinary folks to accept and support situations of absolute monstrosity.

              As for spousal violence, drug abuse etc – of course these things matter. What can interrupt or redirect the cycles of dysfunction, passed from generation to generation? I believe in old-fashioned remedies: community, faith, education, mentors and others who believe in kids. But that is another conversation.

              • Ren says:

                Okay then, garden variety nasties….how’d you feel about one dating your kid, sister, best friend, so on?

                • Erik Schwarz says:

                  Never fun to have nasty people in one’s life. It can be an opportunity, I suppose, to develop one’s moral character, though I have never been terribly successful at doing so. As far as I have gotten is a cultivated capacity to disengage from rather than spiral down into the situation.

                  I imagine it is much more difficult to navigate a society in thrall to a grand nasty like Stalin or Pol Pot. One cannot just disengage: totalitarianism will not allow it. The only alternatives are resistance or acquiescence. I would like to think that I have the strength to resist, but I really do not know.

          • Ren says:

            For me, there is also and aspect of “the personal is political” going on here…yes, I know M & E, know their histories and all that, but I am using them as an example of 2 kinds of abnormal psychology- which is far more vast subject which has countless facets, but, well, these are the ones I am choosing to blog about at the moment. Do M and E affect You Personally? No, not in the least. Do People Like them impact your life directly in some way? Well, do you pay taxes? Do you wonder WHY those kid in the city streets are getting shot? Do you wonder why there are wars? Have you or someone you know or care about been a victim of violence? Or been fleeced or taken advantage of or emotionall drained by another person? If so, then an E or M like person has affected or impacted your life. Where E & M born the way there were, or made the way they were, or a combo of both? How do people like that come to be?

            I, personally, find all of that interesting to ponder, and thus, on my blog, I have chosen to do so.

            • Erik Schwarz says:

              I am not versed in abnormal psychology and shall defer to your expertise in that field. About ontology I know a little, and I concede that all of us, including M and E, impact each other’s lives. Indra’s Net and all that. The jump from psychological investigation and insight, however, to broad social and historical commentary (from personal to political, if you prefer) gives me pause. Some of the child and youth perpetrators and victims of violence in the streets of New Orleans – and some of the people who shape the lives of those kids – might share mental health issues with M and E. But surely those issues obtain with people and places where kids are relatively safe from murder. I attribute the epidemic of youth violence largely to historical and socioeconomic factors. Over the course of the 20th century, poor black communities here were disempowered and disrupted in various ways. By urban renewal and the destruction of culturally meaningful spaces, like Claiborne Avenue, the black Main Street in Treme. By the disintegration and withdrawal from civic leadership of the traditional Creole elites. By the slow-motion degradation of the school system and supporting institutions like libraries. By our local penny-ante, race-baiting versions of Stalin, like Judge Leander Perez. All these things and more have created a culture in which black boys and young men (and, yes, the gender roles are rather firmly fixed – males are almost universally the perpetrators while girls and young women are occasional victims and frequent instigators) see no way to contest their feelings of worthlessness and assert their demands for respect other than to kill their peers. Just writing this down makes me sad and tired, and I cannot compose adequate responses to your queries about the etiology of wars, personal experiences of violence, nature v. nurture and so on. Perhaps another day…

              • Erik Schwarz says:

                I should amend the penultimate sentence of my comment above to read “SOME black boys and young men…see no way.” Many others are working to bring about positive change in myriad ways: repairing and reforming their own schools, doing youth-to-youth philanthropy, tutoring and mentoring other kids, leading service projects in their communities, learning about and transmitting traditional culture and much more. This transformative work occurs, however, against a backdrop of persistent youth violence.

              • Ren says:

                Um, I do have a degree in History. It is my first love.

                • Erik Schwarz says:

                  So perhaps you know of Leander Perez, one of the nastiest pieces of work ever in the often nasty history of American politics. Judge Perez was the political boss of South Louisiana, and the most powerful man in the state after the demise of Huey Long. Perez was both astoundingly venal and utterly hateful. He defrauded the citizens of Louisiana of upwards of 100 million dollars – back when 100 million still meant something. (The feds eventually settled with his heirs for 12 mil, a fraction of the loot.) He made rotten deals with the oil industry, and the long-term effects are still with us via destruction of wetlands, coastal erosion and paltry offshore royalties. But enough about corruption: on to the hate! Perez was a virulent racist, and he used his power to brutalize black communities over the course of several decades. Unlike some Southern pols, for whom bigotry was essentially a political strategy, he was a true hater. An apposite quote: “Do you know what the Negro is? Animal right out of the jungle” And he directly inspired mob violence against school desegregation with the charge “”Don’t wait for your daughter to be raped by these Congolese…Do something about it now.” He was an equal-opportunity racist, vide: “all those Jews who were supposed to have been cremated at Buchenwald and Dachau but weren’t, and Roosevelt allowed two million of them illegal entry into our country.” Perez was so wicked that the Roman Catholic Church excommunicated him, following which he threatened to establish his own denomination, the “Perez-byterians.” (We are rather tickled by this last bit and still guffaw about it at family dinners.) I wonder whether Leander Perez could be an avatar of villainy in some corner of your gaming universe. If you wonder about his appearance, Richard Avedon took a famous photograph of him looking like a poisonous toad with a cigar clenched in its jowls.

                  • Ren says:

                    Sounds…charming. I totally stole your phrase for the title of my next post.

                    I will look for that photo .

                • Erik Schwarz says:

                  P.S. What do you make of psychohistory, which seems to engage and combine two of your fields of knowledge and interest? Most of the criticism leveled at it seems to come from historians, but I wonder about the views of psychologists.

                  • Ren says:

                    Well, I think there is something to the psychological theory of group think as it applies to history: The Nazi’s are a good example, and I absolutely think that when people witness to or participate IN violence or attrocity it becomes easier for them to watch and committ (war crimes and exterminations). Other than that, I am not so sure…and I do not know what psychologists would think.

  4. rootietoot says:

    I think my thoughts on the Cautionary Tale are that there is evil in the world. Sometimes it’s easy to recognize and individual like Stalin or Hitler, sometimes it’s systemic, like Nazis or My Lai. Most of the time, I think, it’s small and petty and not very far reaching, involving an individual who’s missing something in their heads (a concience perhaps) and wreaks havoc on a small scale (like Jeffrey Dahmer…which was sensational, but not exactly in Stalin’s catagory). This morning I remembered an anecdotal story from “People of the Lie” which illustrated this point, about a couple named Sarah and Harley, which was very mjuch like your story of M and E. Sarah was dominant, controlling, manipulative, and Harley (her husband) took her constant abuse with defeat, essentially saying “what would I do without her?” The author’s conclusion was that they were mutually parasitic, and people like this find each other. Neither person would be what they are without the other one to feed off of.

  5. So is one a sociopath and the other a co-dependent????

  6. xena says:

    I find it extremely difficult to believe stories about women physically abusing men for long periods of time. I’ve known a precious few women who hit men, and hit first. If they do, the men hit back, or leave the relationship. Men are rarely economically dependent on their abusive spouses, the way battered women are, and that is 95% of the upper hand in non-addicted abusive households.

    And yes, I believe that most men who whine about their abusive female spouses are manipulative layabouts with an agenda that doesn’t include working for a living. The system is designed for men to get to the jobs before I do. Damn straight *those evil penis creatues* are stealing jobs I could have had. My daughter unloads trucks for $10/hr, while guys who work that job get $18/hr. The deck is stacked against us all around.

    Unless a man is severely disabled, I see him as another lying BK trying to hijack my cause, if he’s on about an abusive woman–much like your gay groper rat. Men have the power to get the hell out of the abusive relationship, get a job and find somewhere else to put their dicks. If they don’t, then I have no sympathy for them.

    Young men who still live at home and get beaten by their mothers are a different story. They do need help.

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