Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Larry, WPITW, Part Two

To read part one of Larry, Worst Person in the World, click here.

I first suspected something was wrong Valentine's day, 2007, when I got a text message from Larry. Odd, I thought. What is this, Tuesday? We don't have anything planned until Friday. The text read:

"Good morning. Happy valentine's day... stay warm.. ;-)."

I could not understand in a million years why he sent me this text. I called Lola and said, "Check your phone. See if Larry texted you." He hadn't. I called Pax... no, he hadn't texted her either.

I knew Larry wasn't interested in me. Larry wasn't interested in anybody, or anything.. except sports, cars, and travel. It didn't make any sense. And yet, the text was calculated to make the recipient think that the first person he thought about on Valentine's day morning was her. I knew that could not possibly be true, so I didn't answer it.

In truth, Larry probably never meant to send that text to me. Probably, it was a miskey. Larry would never just be "thinking" about me on Valentine's day morning. Larry didn't have "thoughts" other people - certainly not of a personal "I am thinking about you" nature.

Not long after I met Larry, I realized that he was not like other people. For one thing, Larry could talk forever about sports, cars, and travel - and he could talk a little about his friends. But if I asked him a harmless question about his family, the energy of the conversation shifted. If you asked about his mother, he would say she lives overseas. If you asked if he had siblings, he would say "one brother" and then dash away. If you asked about his father, he would just ignore you. He was very good at that - shutting down a line of discussion he did not wish to pursue. He would never, ever talk about his personal life. If asked, he would ignore you or just give half a smile and walk away.

He also exhibited what I'll call "periodic isolation." When were all out together, he frequently separated himself from the group and stood by himself for a while, staring out into space. Sometimes he would stare at us as if he did not know us. Eventually, someone would reel him back in, but when he pulled himself away, he always looked sad and distracted. I wondered what the problem was, but I never asked. You simply couldn't go there with him.

Then there was the picking... yes, the picking. He obsessively picked and reopened cuts and scabs and the like. Often, I saw Larry with his hand under his sleeve, scatching at something. He'd be at it forever - and then he'd take his hand out and there would be blood on under his fingernails. A few tiimes I mentioned to him that tearing at your skin just makes it worse, and he just smiled and kept doing it.

Larry was also reckless - at any and all times - about physical safety. We went climbing one pre-dawn morning, he up one peak and I and several others up another. At the top of the next pass I turned my camera and pointed it in his direction. What I saw was Larry, hanging by one arm, his legs flailing beneath him, over 500 feet of nothing but air. Rob and Mischa were with me, looking at the same thing. Mischa shrieked and turned away. Rob swore and covered his face with his hands. I dropped my camera and turned away, my knees buckling, tears running down my face. From where we were standing, there was no way he could pull himself up by one arm and hurl his legs over the top of that crag. None. Fifteen seconds later, Rob looked, and then turned me around and pointed. There was Larry, standing on a summit about the size of a manhole cover. He was waving, unphased. Later, he asked me what was wrong, and when I told him, he said, "I have been doing this a long time. Nothing bad is going to happen to me."

That statement would come back to haunt me three months later.

Much to my surprise, many women found Larry attractive. In a way, he is. He is friendly and enthusiastic and of above average height. He has nice eyes and he is a good leader and when he is relaxed and happy, he is quite charming. For me, however, that's where it ends. Though physically competent and strong, he is all knees and elbows. His head is too big for his body and his teeth are appalling. Show me a guy who is all knees and elbows - a guy with a mouth full of bad dental work - and I'll show you a guy I would never make out with. Just, no.

But honestly, he isn't unattractive to others just because he is unattractive to me. It is the emotional flatness, the unwillingness to connect - the inability to let people in that troubled me.* No one I knew had ever succeeded in getting Larry to talk about anything that really mattered to him except sports, cars, and travel. We loved Larry, but we would all readily admit that the very center of our social lives - the person that made all our plans and plotted all our victories - was a complete stranger. We were all with him all the time, but no one was close to him.

It made me sad, but it wasn't important and I couldn't envision a situation in which it would be. I was wrong.

Toothpaste For Dinner

Of course it has something to do with sex. Of course it does. How could it not? Who gets pissed off on this scale unless it has to do with sex, money, or love? In Larry's case, all three.

That text message, as I would later learn, was simultaneously sent to over twenty women, and he was either sleeping with, dating, or trying to date, every single one of them.

See you next Tuesday if you want to know the how and the why and the way of this. If you think this is so last week and another story about a womanizing shithead is not worth the eyestrain, you don't know the half of it yet.

*The psychiatric community calls this SHALLOW AFFECT - or flat affect. It is defined as emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness. In other words... Larry.

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