Mania is that friend your husband should have snubbed years ago, but won’t. You know the one- thirty-something, in between shitty jobs, currently between the endless meaningless one night stands, bar hopping jerk who laughs at anything resembling responsibility. He doesn’t laugh at it in a fearless, “I laugh in the face of danger” way. He laughs because he mocks it. Mania is that friend that tells your husband to go out with him, keeps him out for two days on a bender, gambling away your savings on the way.
Entire movies have been dedicated to this wad of adolescent ejaculant. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, and my favorite, She’s having a Baby. Alec Baldwin’s character is charming and repulsive all at once, and as a wife, I detest him, but I hate Kevin Bacon’s character more.
This character is always spouting the Peter Pan philosophy of wives being the death of a man. Not women, especially not single young women, but wives. The nagging, ever demanding perfectionist wife who cuts a man’s testicles off and wears them like jewelry. Yes, it is always the wife that emasculates.
This is mania. You know, like Manic depressive? Mania, like bi-polar. Mania, who I have come to know somewhat well, loves to lie to my husband. It tells him I’m suffocating him, that he needs to do things his own way. Mania is the invisible antagonist whispering my husband’s lines to him like Tyler Durden at the bottom of the stairs while the main character fights with Marla.
I remember watching that scene for the third or fourth time, thinking she doesn’t see what we see- she only sees this man, stonewalling her, obstinate and ungiving, while he recites these lines from somewhere. The argument ends when she says, “I never can win with you, can I?”
But mania is not Tyler Durden. Tyler, at least, had a plan to redeem humanity. An effed-up plan, sure, but he had the good of mankind as his aim. Chaos as a means to a simpler more wholesome future. Mania don’t give a rat’s ass about humanity. It hops on for the ride, eggs you on until you’re about to crash, and hops off to some other fool willing to buy the lies.
I see it riding on my husband piggy-back style, shiny eyes asparkle. It doesn’t care about consequences, negative outcomes do not apply- because it doesn’t have to suffer them- as soon as the car crashes, the collectors come calling, the wife leaves, the ambulance comes, the police click those handcuffs, mania flits off, unless there seems to be more fun to be had. Delusions of grandeur, great acts of charity, kindness, all in the purpose of self-aggrandizement.
It reminds me of the demon in the movie the Fallen, who enters a person and leaves by breath, and cannot survive outside of a human host longer than a breath. It jumps in, wreaks havoc, and jumps out, just when the fun might end. In it’s wake it leaves murders death destruction, and a very very broken human being.
The last time mania came calling I asked my husband to leave, and he stayed at a fleabag motel (called the Royal Inn oh rich and joyful irony that is) for a week. The shock of it knocked him on his ass, I think. He did start taking more meds, but I think the fear of losing everything kind of got him to change his habit. When the husband loses his family because of the idiot friend, he no longer listens to him rant about responsibility and wives- that all seems pretty empty once he realizes this man is a coward governed by ignorance and hatred.
Or at least, I like to hope so.
I hate mania. I hate that lousy punk, and I can’t really kick it out of the house, and when I try to talk to my husband, mania twists my words against me. It turns my love against me, and uses all my good intentions to show him just how controlling I am. And when mania leaves, there is depression, coddling and empty of hope. It takes forever to get my husband back.
It doesn’t seem to matter what meds he’s on, either, unless he’s heavily medicated with anti-psychotics and sedatives. But then he’s in the hospital, and obviously not working. And that usually takes a week at least.
I hate mania.