This is a much shorter one than it should be- I owe the guy that much at least- but I met a guy many years ago when he was something of a teen prodigy at a book discussion group I went to. This guy definitely demanded your attention: for one thing he dyed his hair blue and for another he was exceptionally brilliant- every bit as much as he thought he was. Had major elements of Ignatius J. Reilly rolled into it though, and in addition to being brilliant and funny (even charming when he wanted to be) he was also a thoroughly obnoxious intellectual bully and, simply put, an asshole- especially when he drank. I went years without speaking to him, later became his friend on Facebook, hoping he’d matured in the time I hadn’t known him, but nope- he became one of the first people I ever “defriended” from Facebook just as I did in real life. Life’s too short to have negative belligerent people in it, and to people who would point out “he’s a good person down deep” I’d point out that there are plenty of people who are “good people” ON the surface AS WELL AS down deep. Sorry, I don’t like assholes, even when they’re brilliant and can be funny; I don’t do mean.
Well anyway, not much of a spoiler when you read the title to say he’s dead. He died very unexpectedly today at the age of 30 (a massive stroke I think- details aren’t clear other than totally unexpected). That’s way too young and especially so for somebody who was- warts and all- so intelligent and with a great education (Ivy League law school grad- not that he ever practiced). He was an only child so I really feel for his mother. Mutual friends are devastated by this; I have been a bit standoffish beyond a very sincere “Oh my God WTF?” shocked reaction because I fear to say more. (Our falling out- we had two or three actually- was known to all, and they even agreed confidentially that “he’s an acquired taste” [to which I responded “so I’m sure is bat piss, but not one I care to acquire”] and that “that’s just his way” to which I responded with my grandfather’s retort for that exact same line- “Well goddam his way”.)
So, I started to do an R.I.P. [his name here] as my Facebook status but decided that was hypocritical seeing as how if he were still alive he wouldn’t be able to read it since I defriended him. Not sure what to do really. I won’t go to the funeral or the funeral home since that would be super-duper hypocritical, though if I can think of a way to do it anonymously I might send his mother the money I’d send on flowers. It’s a very poor family- which, incidentally, is one reason I didn’t like him in fact: he could have done so much to help his family’s finances but wouldn’t work at a lucrative job in his field because it didn’t leave him enough “leisure time” so his poor mom was forever behind on house payments and the like. (Again, very Ignatius.)
So, it’s very unusual when somebody you flat out don’t like- and I flat out didn’t like this guy- dies. You don’t quite know what to say other than the obvious “oh fuck” when it’s unexpected like this, but you have to guard against saying more. I refuse to be a hypocrite, yet strangely- I guess because I respected this guy a lot even if I didn’t like him- it’s almost a loss.
It’s not the first person I didn’t like who died- one of my mentors in academia, a woman I learned a LOT from about being a librarian, about making web pages, about academic politics, etc., and one of the best librarians I’ve ever known when it came to being able to find anything anywhere, was also a complete two faced crazy bitch who was frigging IMPOSSIBLE to trust or get along with. I’m far from the only person who felt this way. When she died- not totally unexpected, she was diagnosed with cancer and lived a few weeks afterwards- I was actually asked by a former co-worker (I’d moved on since then- in part [certainly not exclusively] due to this woman] to speak at the memorial service. I told her person who asked me that I would feel very hypocritical about that since while I could say some good things legitimately- I learned a lot from her and all- it was all professional accolades, as a person I thought she was dreadful. The person who had asked me said “Yes, I know… everybody knows… but I think you’ll be the most sincere on the good stuff and the most diplomatic on the fact she was a bitch”. (I didn’t speak- seemed to two faced for somebody I’d trashed and usually deservedly several times.)
So anyway, I’m not giving this what it deserves but I’ll post this anyway:
Has anybody else ever experienced the death of somebody you respect, maybe even like on some level, but also can’t stand? Somebody who basically- well, they had their moments and they had their good points but just simply were not a good person? It’s a very odd experience isn’t it? You want to say something moving or profound, you certainly don’t feel any joy in their death, you have compassion for those who loved them, but at the same point you don’t want to be a hypocrite by not bringing up the fact that not only did you not like them but the reason you didn’t like them is because they weren’t nice people.
Or at least that’s my take: I’d be very interested in reading those of others who’ve had the experience.