Billy called me that when I’d say something so cruel that it would make that handsome, round face pucker up into a tearful scrunch. “You’re a meanie!” he’d say, the hurt dripping down his cheeks. I’d fight harder, defend myself, and just get more rabid. Billy would end up seething, unable to play my word games, and he’d retreat. After I cooled down, I would hang my head and beg his forgiveness. It was too late, though, because his anger festered far beyond a simple open sore and grew into a full-on large boil.
I think about being a meanie. I remember almost every time he called me that name and I’ll circle that memory in my head until I’ve worn a path around it, and then I cry. It’s laughable to blame my quicksilver belligerence on my career although the business certainly engenders it, and it’s paltry to blame my parents.
An easy analysis would tell of a man who can’t accept love because he’s been raised to believe he’s not worthy of it. I don’t buy it, at least not in my case. I did accept love from Billy. He was the one who broke through more than anyone ever had. He taught me, by example, that it was ok, and I could let go and accept his hand in mine. When Billy left, well, I thought I had put my bad behavior behind me; I thought it an ugly by-product of the past. I wanted to believe that I had been taught something from what happened. But the ball keeps on rolling and the big wheel keeps on turning.
While my meanie-ness may have gone underground, for a minute, it takes about fifteen clicks on the second hand of Billy’s watch that’s on my wrist for it to rise to the surface, take my opponent by the throat, and beat him down without me breaking a sweat. It’s crept into this journal and it certainly has found its way into my new relationships in DC. When it happens, I only hear Billy’s plaintive and frustrated voice saying, “You’re a meanie!”
And it seems I haven’t learned a damned thing.