My Autobiography: A Character Assassination

They say write what you know. Well, I know me; as much as we can ever know ourselves. What follows will be my unexpurgated id. I think you’ll find a surprising lack of ego here, speaking in strictly Freudian terms. Also sex. Lots of sex. Sometimes a cigar really is that thing daddies put in mommies — or johns into fallen Madonnas.

Mother was a whore, father a bastard. I’m not complaining. There are worse starts in life. But is it any wonder I left and never went back? As my father once told me, “Leave and don’t come back.” He also told me “Learn from your mistakes. You were a mistake.” He was pithy that way. He never meant well except by accident.

He wasn’t my real father, and didn’t care to be a real husband to my adoptive mother, who had no power after her first yes. They accepted me into their home but not into their hard hearts, where Christian duty had been planted but did not grow in hard times. Neither knew that I’d been impossibly handsome when I first came squalling into this world. Even the midwife had said so, her booziness no filter to the truth. All they saw was the ungainly child. An extra belly to feed with no manna from heaven. A problem and not a solution.

I accepted it then. I don’t now.

They say a man grows into his name. After leaving I changed mine. There was a war on and everybody lost something. I came back and found a new life and another man’s wife. I found that it doesn’t matter where you come from. As my father might have said, it only matters that you didn’t have to die to get here.

All of which sounds rather dark. Have I mentioned that I get laid on a regular basis?

It’s never been a problem attracting women – I need crowd control. The secret is to let them give you what you want. Women have a natural desire to please men. It satisfies their nurturing instinct. It’s not rocket science. In return they want nothing more from us than our undivided attention. They’re like children that way.

I’ve never pretended to have hidden depths. If it looks that way, you’re looking past me.

Religion does not interest me except as a pitch. You need to believe; you don’t have a choice. Philosophy? “Two men arguing over which one of them is a figment of the other’s imagination,” as my father put it. Sex, on the other hand, is the greatest power the world has ever known, which is why I have made it my life’s work. Sex sells. Alfred Kinsey was an accountant.

I’m not a possessive man where other men’s wives are concerned. Faithfulness and fidelity are admirable if your goal is to be admired. Mine is to die having tasted the fruit within my grasp. The liquor, too. Temperance is a crutch for the incurably sober. No good writer ever relied on it; certainly no mad man. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die again.

What of that many-splendoured thing? If love’s reach didn’t so often exceed its grasp, there would be less call for people like me. Love is a very pleasant dream which nobody wants to wake up from to find the reality snoring next to them. I interpret people’s old dreams, and give them new ones. In a very real sense I help give meaning to their lives. If that sounds overblown, consider how most of us spend our time. We spend it wanting more. It’s not enough that we already have everything.

Trying to get what you want is what makes the world go round. It stops the minute you get what you need.

What do I want? you might ask. What motivates me besides my libido, my demons, and the occasional award as my due? Why do I get out of bed every morning (or ever, given the demand)? Crawl out of the bottle at all? Don’t look to Freud for answers. He may have got a lot right but he got even more wrong. Like any man I am what I do. Take that away and I’m nothing. There isn’t a bottle deep enough to take me back to the womb.

I’m not a born writer. Everything on the page is the result of a very pregnant pause. It’s bloody, it hurts, and sometimes it’s stillborn. If the typewriter could scream, it would. Then I forget the labor as soon as it’s over, until next time.

I write fiction. If you do it well enough, people believe you and it’s no longer fiction.

My father never wrote anything but bad checks. He was a born liar who believed whatever was coming out of his mouth at the time. Although men can make a very good living from lying, he never found a profitable application for his talents. Like all failures he scorned the success of others. Judging by the frequent look on his face, it felt like being stung by a wasp.

He drank to forget, which was odd because he never did a memorable thing in his life. He preferred the pleasure of his own company when drinking. In this respect he was no different when sober. He just didn’t like people.

He put people into two camps: those who wanted something from him now, and those who would want something from him later.

It’s Peggy’s birthday. Sorry I didn’t get to her in this aborted Mad Men fan fiction, which I tapped out a couple of years ago, one tweet at a time.