Playing the Part

Notes: This is somewhat of a vignette from one of the characters of my larger story. I have altered names and some descriptions to make it sound more realistic since I am planning to use it in my Creative Writing class. Other than that, the mannerisms and thoughts presented are those shared by the character whom this piece is based on. The challenge isn't really to guess who is speaking, but to guess what they are trying to say. Okay that was so not deep. Anyway, enjoy.


The strange figures and symbols dance across the end credits upon the television set. This odd display continues for about five minutes before finally cutting off with a couple of meaningful words. 'This story is about truth, freedom, beauty, and above all' Most would think 'how romantic.' Those who have viewed this piece of cinematography know better.

Moulin Rouge. One of my favorite movies. Enthralling story and a piercing ending that lets the world know that things don't always have to end up with stereotypical rainbows and rides off into the sunset. That's what I have always enjoyed about the film. It doesn't piddle out to the same sappy fairy-tale ending. Instead it shows us the harsh and sometimes brutal reality of love and of life. Being part of the strange and rare group known as romantic realists, I can fully concur with its message.

"It is better to have loved and have lost than to have never loved at all."

There Tanya goes again with that insipid romantic tripe. I've been listening to her condolences for over an hour. They've almost ruined the movie. Now, I've had enough. Giving my sister my most withering glare, I hit the switch on the remote and trudge over to her side. She flips her hair over her shoulder, trying to show off her newest dye job. Ugh. By now, she should know how I hate black. Not to mention, how atrocious cool black looks with light gray eyes. It doesn't even match her clothes. Her belly shirt and hip-huggers seem more downplayed then accentuated, as the wavy river of darkness sweeps down her back and touches her waist. I almost feel a pang of disgust. I really can't stand black. Tanya should have more style than this.

I roll my eyes at her as I shove her from my path and make my way up the stairs. I have almost no idea what I plan to do in the room that awaits my arrival. Somehow books and television don't seem to entice me anymore. Neither can be a proper replacement for real life. They just show the extremes, worlds of oblivious bliss or worlds of consuming despair. Why would I turn to outlets like them when I already have both of those aspects in my present life?

"Maybe you should write something. I hear that it's good for releasing stress and venting emotions."

She is trying suggestions now. It's just like her never to know when to quit. Big sisters are like that. I assume that the urge to help their siblings through crisises runs through their blood. It should make me feel lucky. I should probably smile. It's easier than accepting things. Smiling creates an illusion of contentment. It would suit this situation.

I turn to her and try it. It works like a charm. The concern has fallen from her face and now Tanya looks relaxed. I might as well take charge of this moment.

Stopping at the top of the staircase, I look down at her, still smiling, and shake my head. "I'm not a very good writer, Tanya. Besides, writing is boring."

Tanya giggles and covers her mouth with the back of her hand. As if she could hide her mirth from me. She lowers her hand and places it on her hip, staring up at me knowingly. "You never change. Always out for the adventure. Why don't you take time to enjoy life? You seem to take more delight in finding ways to jeopardize your existence than to bask in its presence."

"I do enjoy life," I tell her sternly, storming off into my room at the start of the hall.

I do enjoy it. That's the problem. I enjoy it too much. It's common knowledge that too much of a good thing can be bad. I think it's my voracious appetite for life that makes me unable to take any real pleasure out of it.

But that's life living in America at these times. Big city life can leave a person spoiled to the exotic sites and cause them to be always pining for something better, something faster, something stronger, something new. Maybe New Yorkers have the same affliction. Me, my entire world revolves around the happenings of Baltimore. I don't know why it gets such a bad rap. It can be a good town if you make it that way. It's all in interpretation.

People sure like to interpret things, even when it's not their business to do so. I think people just like to tell each other what to do and how to live life properly. It makes them feel as if the way they've been living is unflawed and decent. That's a laugh. Nobody's life, no matter how perfect it may seem, is unflawed. Appearances are always deceiving.

Sometimes, it seems that life is just a series of disjointed acts. The rest of the habitants of this world are really just players on a complex strange. It's true. People should know the truth.

I reach into my desk and yank out a letter. I was supposed to send it a week ago. Then, my courage left me. I find myself staring at the runny letters detailing my explanation for some thoughtless action. Roving over the words, I feel the urge to rip the page into pieces. I meant what I said to Tanya. I can't write! I'm not talented at expressing things through words. It's all too personal. Too real. I have never been good with reality.

Yet something insides me impels me to try again. Maybe I hate my words because they weren't clear enough or don't move me in the way that I had believed they would when I first wrote them. I think I'll try again. People have the right to know the difference between reality and a very elaborate act. My life has been both.

With a sigh, I grasp the paper and move to my far window. I lean against its edge, tasting the moisture in the air, foretelling the prospect of rain later on today. Now, there are no distant rumbles of thunder in the sky, no gusty winds, just peaceful dark clouds moving sluggishly through the murky sky. It creates an illusion of calm of normalcy. I guess this means that people aren't the only ones who resort to ruses to hide their true natures.

Flipping the letter on it's other side, I retrieve a ballpoint pen from the inside of the desk and I press it on the paper. Damn, it's hard to organize your thoughts when you actually want to put them down in print. I wonder if that's some sort of cosmic joke as I try to formulate something rich and poignant. It's always nice to write something that one can be proud of.

I love it when people tell me how to live my life. I truly do. They tell me what is bad for me and what is good for me. Who I should talk to and whom I should avoid like the plague. They tell me what is morally right and what is completely wrong. They're just looking out for me. For my best interests and well being, right? Of course. So why do I constantly ignore them?

For one, they aren't like me. Anyone who has a non-skewed outlook on life and a loving relationship can never imagine what my life must be like. Who could? Who would want to? Me. The ever-cheerful psychopath.

Oxymoron, you say? One can't be both happy and a nutcase. Well, my friend, that's where you're very wrong. It is possible. All you have to do is hide one personality within the other.

Take for example this, my love life. Most would consider me attractive. Hell, I would consider me attractive. To start off with, I'm eighteen going on thirty. I have gorgeous dark red hair, a perfect body, and dazzling jade eyes that are, as many have said, 'to die for.' With all this, one would imagine that finding dates is a cinch, right? Not quite. You see, I have this odd desire to hate what I can actually have and to yearn for what is clearly beyond my reach. Following me? Basically, if the ideal classic romance-novel lover drops into my lap, I might be amused, but I won't be interested. Whereas, if a somewhat violent, antisocial misfit wanders into my path, I am immediately on hunter mode. In other words, I prefer the challenge, the excitement. Pure love is fun, but it's only for movies and books. It's near impossible to encounter in real life.

Still don't believe I'm crazy? Well, I'll tell you this much. I'm not the masochistic or suicidal type of crazy. I just have this bizarre craving to try the most dangerous things. Sure, I care about the consequences, but they hold no sway over my fascination with testing fate. You name it; I've probably tried it. Drugs, promiscuous sex, x-games, cults, gangs, and of course, love.

Some consider love the most dangerous game of all. It involves constant struggle, endless compromises, heart-wrenching pain, festering passion, and sometimes it doesn't work out. Then, you're left feeling broken, useless, and alone. Love cuts you to the quick. It makes you bleed. Rips out your very heart, sometimes with a figurative spoon. So why do people still pursue it? My answer: they're crazy. Anyone who goes through that sort of torture time and time again can't be all right in the head. But the people who do continue to seek out the fleeting fantasy of the perfect love and eternal bliss don't consider themselves crazy. They see themselves as normal. I guess that's what makes me the messed-up one. I can see the truth and accept it. Love, in general, is a psychotic emotion.

'People will always deny you what you truly love.' 'You always hurt the one you love.' 'There is no love without sacrifice.' 'Love is a battlefield.' Sound familiar? Common mantras on the lips of those who have 'loved and lost.' Cliched, I know. But some of these disconsolate sayings are true. Very true. I know.

I should explain.

Say, one person loves another but everyone one else sees one of them as bad for the other. They may even refer to the bad one as a "selfish bastard." It doesn't matter that he has set of perfect blue-violet eyes that glisten like the polished surfaces of priceless gems. Nor does it matter that those same eyes work nicely with his ebony hair to create quite an aesthetic appeal. Even his unique personality and sardonic sense of humor fail to win their trust.

In their eyes, it's just not a good idea to talk to this person since he could obviously care less about the other's feelings. As far as they're concerned, loving this person is wrong. It's a hideous mistake. They all try to push the good person toward more friendly types and initiate god-awful blind dates to get the good one's mind off an unhealthy lover. It's always black or white for them. This person is good and this person is bad. They have nothing in common. They shouldn't be together. Simple. For them at least.

There comes a problem when they fail to realize that the bad boy may not be as bad as he seems and the good person may not be as good as so many think. Maybe because of these odd parallels, both beings feel drawn to one another. They can learn from each other's mistakes and find ways at bettering themselves through working with the other. In time, their relationship may actually be a good thing. That's one defense anyway.

Or perhaps, our good character revels in being bad. Maybe even finds pleasure in defying the norm and laughing in the face of society's constrictive dogma. The thrill of a secret affair and of an unorthodox relationship appeals to this person. It is a way of escaping from a monotonous lifestyle. Always being happy. Always comforting others. Always hiding one's true identity behind a mask because the truth is something that the rest of the world is unwilling to accept. Our good character finds joyful release in submitting to the darker and sometimes even carnal desires.

Hoping to avoid delving further into this unpleasant topic, those who 'care' about the person try a new approach. They say that Mr. Bad is just using the other. He doesn't care and could never care. He just wants a quick fix and then will be gone by morning. Everything he says is just an act to win the other over. It's just a clever game he plays to deceive the mind and entrap the heart. He's a liar and a con artist.

Good arguments. But what if none of them are true? What would the others think if they knew that our good and innocent character is the real one in charge and is, in a sense, using Mr. Bad?



Surprisingly enough, both nouns can be interchanged without much difficulty. It just takes a shift in roles. For the case of this scenario, I'll just keep that focused to personality roles. All one has to do is bring up the right topic and the so-called good character is in total control of the inherently evil one. Discovering what that crucial topic is doesn't even take much time, just a little investigating and 'soul-searching.' Result: a method of bringing one to the other's level and creating a sort of equilibrium between them.

All right, the noble circle of friends and acquaintances have managed to choke down that pill, but they are quickly amassing another round of ammunition. They don't give up easily. If they did, they wouldn't be such good friends. They would be enablers. That relates them to the codependent relatives of a drug user. Such a thing must be avoided at all costs. A new argument must be made.

It soon is and appears to be a real winner, involving long thought and careful planning. What is this astounding argument? They want to know if their good friend really believes that the relationship will work out and if that friend will be happy afterwards. Sadly, they are making one critical mistake here. They don't realize that it is a game. A game which is not intended to have an ending. It's supposed to go on forever and ever, until one grows tired or wishes to seek out another player. In a way, it's not even real. Well, it wouldn't be if the heartache, despair, and longing weren't real.

But these feelings are what we affectionately call losses. All games do have to have their rules. Too bad, the rules of this particular game are never meant to stay the same. They must always change or the participants will lose interest.

After a while, the concerned individuals eventually come to the realization that our good character will not listen to them and will act as that person wishes to. None of their intervention or debating will deter this individual from a chosen course of action. No doubt, this should predict future tranquillity for the good character and the bad boy. It should, but that doesn't mean it will.

Things go wrong. Nasty things get said. Some things even get broken. Most can be replaced or repaired. Others can only mend in time. Still, others may not heal at all. Such is life in the realm of love. Same old story, written down from generation to generation. Why still try?

'The greatest thrill in life is the hunt.'

Good saying. It really works in this case. It does for me anyway. The ongoing search for true contentment drives me deeper into this mess. One ruined relationship doesn't deter me, nor do two or three or even ten. It just increases the belief that somewhere out there has to be the person made exclusively to bond with the other. For there can't be interminable misery, can there? I don't want to believe so, so I continue the quest.

Tanya believes I search in vain and will only come back more depressed than when I left. I don't know why she says things like that. With her build, she could have any guy she wanted. It's possible that she has just set her standards too high. In a way, I suppose that must be better than having no standards at all.

A friend of mine told me that one must never give up and if you go for something with everything you have and strive with all your might, you can achieve anything. I'm not saying I exactly believe him, but it's a nice thing to think about during a particularly dreary day such as this one. When the sky is mottled with graying thunder clouds and the quickening blasts of wind have your hair whipping you in face like a disobedient cur; you could always go for some encouragement. This is probably the only time I would ever support such stupid sayings.

One of my many lovers, the one who just left me a month ago, says that happiness in love seems almost impossible to find. Even if you do all the right things, you may still lose in the end. It's just a quirk of life. The only way to get any real satisfaction out of existence is to embrace what you do own and learn to cherish it as if it were the best gift you could possibly receive. Once again, sweet advice. Even sweeter coming from one whom dumped me because I refused to show any genuine respect. I guess I don't feel like I really deserve such a thing after the way I acted.

Remorse in a person like me? Yeah, I feel it often enough and occasionally it can really get to me and tear me up inside. I just never let it show. Always smiling, remember? People like it when you smile.

As for Nicky, the lover, whom I ran from, despite everything I did to make our relationship last, he believes that happiness can only come after a long time of suffering.

It's always suffering for him. His childhood. His school life. His detachment from society. Always suffering. Normally, I don't go for people like that because it mirrors my life too much. But with him, I saw something different. Hope. I guess I thought if I could fix him, then I would know how to fix me. I should have known better than to hope.

Still, everything around me still insists that I be happy and glad. I do have a loving sister and a cavalcade of inspiring buddies and associates. I have a nice house. Some have even mistaken it for a mansion. It is rather impressive. I'm not one to say that my house is spectacular, only that it seems a little better than some other hovels I've seen around here. It even has an indoor pool and a garden.

I have always adored that garden. You can love flowers and you don't have to fight to keep them in your grasp. They can't love you back, but if you imagine it, it's almost like the ideal love. Strange, huh? The ideal love consisting of a partner who won't challenge you and simply takes all of your affection in quiet grace. Now, that I think of it, that's not very intriguing. I prefer a little personality to my partners.

But I digress. I also have a fairly decent GPA to add to my endowments. I'm a regular expert with computers and can hack systems with relative ease. Funny, I should mention that when I first started dating, I analyzed everything as if it were a system. Punch the right buttons, learn the right passwords, work around the firewalls, and you're in. I soon learned that things weren't as easy as all that. Not only that, all that computer imagery used to give me a whopping migraine.

Of course, I have my shortcomings. I have been known to talk too much and to ramble on about things that are meant to be kept private. Though there are certain things that I know better than to share in such a casual fashion. I'm also not that smart when it comes to problem-solving and I get frustrated pretty fast when things don't go my way. I know how to compromise and am willing to seek out help with something that's giving me too much trouble, but I will still throw a fit while I'm doing it. Still, it would be lying to say that I have a short fuse. I can usually take a lot before I get angry with others. One has to learn how to do this when one's expected to be the constant joker. Oddly enough, joking about my life is never taken too lightly. Maybe my audience is just too tense.

I also have this odd obsession with talking to myself. Don't make fun. I'm sure some of you have done this from time to time. I just find that some of my best conversations are between my conscience and me. Now, if only I would listen to it once in a while. Anyway, my conscience tells me that the love I'm seeking is all around me and all I have to do is open my eyes. What the hell is that supposed to mean? I always have my eyes wide open. I'm a big fan of observing everything around me. Shouldn't I have run into it by now if that was the case? I haven't yet. Maybe my conscience is as wrong as everybody else. Why does it seem like even I have turned against myself?

A long time ago, I had another good friend. I wasn't in love with this one. I just liked to talk with him. He had a lot of interesting things to say about life and sometimes about love. Love was usually a big thing with him. Apparently, he was one of those 'loved and lost' types. I don't know if the person he cared for died or simply left him. I guess I'll never know for sure. He's gone now. One of the many human casualties of my life. And I wonder why it's so hard to find someone who can love me.

This friend used to tell me that love was a fragile thing. He also said that it was often hard to recognize until the last moment. One could be holding love in his grasp and not know what it was until it had abandoned him. Perfect. That sure gave me hope for the future. But he gained my attention by saying that love doesn't just come to one, one has to create it. Shape it in a way as a sculptor creates a marvelous centerpiece to express his feelings. Or edit and rewrite the script as authors and playwrights often do to fashion their prize-winning masterpieces. Maybe even alter notes to fit a personal pitch as shown by several singers when they go looking for their signature song. So that was it. Love has to be made. It's not just there. So why can't I create this rare emotion?

Then again, I have seen those who have dared to design their own type of love. They have forced their beau to change just to suit their desires or have bowed down themselves in order to convince their lover to stay with them. Pathetic. Some have even gone after one who could not or would not love them back just because they believed they were meant to be together. They too thought they could create their own love. As with so many others, they were wrong.

Now, I'm left thinking. Maybe it's me who's been doing something wrong this whole time. Maybe I have messed everything up because I was only worried about my needs. Perhaps, this tantalizing emotion has been close to me for some time and I have failed to notice it because I thought that I was seeking out something higher and more desirable.

Another thought that pesters me is what if I don't want true love. What if I just want the excursion? A few quick experiences and then a noble exit. That's what I like. It strikes me that most of my relationships have fallen under those criteria. Disheartening when you think about it. I suppose I have only fooled myself into believing that I have put any heart into my relationships. I have shown my lovers a good time. I have laughed at their jokes, quieted their fears, and sated their desires. But in the end, I see that it was all for nothing. I never intended to stay. I just wanted the experience so I could savor it and then move on to something else, something new.

I guess now most would see me as a bad sort of person. I'm used to the role by now and have heard quite colorful words used in my description. I take no pride in them, but I also choose not to deny them. Denying the truth about one's self is truly the worst thing a person can do. If you deny the truth, then you just set yourself up for a fall when you're forced to realize who you really are. It is even worse if it is someone else who must show you the error of your ways.

That said, I have never forgotten who I am. I know what I like, what I despise, and what I have no particular interest in either way. That has kept me in line to this day. It has also tended to outcast me from those who have discovered my actual identity. People fear what they don't understand. It's a basic fact. I have always found that I am remarkably difficult to understand. Whether it's my view on life or my strange lifestyle, I have not yet figured out. All I know is that people either see me as a social deviant or as an engaging and spirited companion. To tell the truth, I only care about the opinion of the latter.

I bet you're all wondering how I can say all this and still claim to be compelled to smile at all times. Though I personally am fully aware of the person I am, I do not always wish to have others know. I was told as a child, the best way to make friends is to have a welcoming smile. That way most first impressions you make will be good. People won't see you as odd and weird if you show them a jovial personality. Also, smiling can actual make people feel good. It's like it convinces one's whole body to adopt a more genial mood. Fake smiles don't always carry this same affect, but they're always handy in bad situations. Nothing can hide feelings better than an inspiring smile.

Sometimes it takes a few years to perfect. Well, when all one does is hang out alone at parks with some dark sunglasses and a pack of cigarettes, the knack seems to spring up sooner than later.

It's kind of ironic that I contemplate this while the rest of my friends and well wishers are gathering beneath me on the awning. We are having a sort of dinner party and I'm late as usual. They all account it to my ability to always forget about the time or my need to be appropriately dressed for all occasions. Needless to say, they aren't surprised that I haven't joined them yet. I can see them all from up here. Yet, they can't see me.

I guess you could say that things have always been that way. Nobody has ever been able to really see me. I used to think my last lover could. Maybe that's why I ran. I was afraid of being unmasked. It's extremely hard to play a part when your audience already knows who you are. Typecasting. Heard of it? Sure, you have.

As I lean further over the windowsill, I can make out a spray of black amongst the characters at the table. I blink my eyes. The black is still there. God, I really hate that color. How can it be so beautiful and so repugnant at the same time?

It seems that Tanya even invited him over for the meal. I guess she doesn't find Nicky so offensive anymore. That's good. Still, it's a little late. I could have used the support back when we still had a chance. Maybe I wouldn't have been so scared. Wouldn't have ran. Now, that chance has been stolen away by fate and time....

How late is it? I glance down at my paper to see what stirring phrases I have rendered during my solitude.

'Love is a fickle thing and though fragile, it can be reassembled if one cares enough to try.'

I don't know where I heard that one before. It sounds like something my conscience would say. All of this time and that's all I could come up with? How mundane. God, I truly am a wretched writer!

Disappointed, I toss my letter and pen to the floor and kick the objects under the bed as I rise to attend to my guests. I can't let this cloud of self-doubt hang over my head at the moment. Right now, I have a party to grace with my ostentatious appearance like the chuckle-inducing character than I am. They are expecting the lively comedian. It's best to deliver the role that they wish to see. One must always keep one's audience happy.

I bounce down the stairs and exuberantly greet my guests. They grin at my reckless display and each one tries to convince me to sit next to him or her. I let my eyes scan the table until they happen across the empty chair next to my ex-lover. He's the only one who hasn't invited me to join him. Well, I guess Nicky was always bad at social things like this.

Waving off the rest of my companions, I wander over to the empty chair and plant myself down in the seat beside him. I can see relief and frustration flash through his indigo eyes. Even though he knows I can see this, he pretends like nothing's wrong and returns his gaze to the center of the table. Tanya has just brought out the main entree, a steaming plate of pepperoni pizza. Hey, who said that this was an average dinner party? These are my friends, remember?

"Glad to see that you have joined us," Tanya says in a cheerful voice.

"I would never disappoint my fans," I joke as the rest of the group laughs. My acting is flawless as usual. Nobody would ever suspect my internal misgivings. They think that everything is fine and good. Let them think what they want.

"Feeling better?"

The voice comes from my side and I realize that it is my jilted lover who is addressing me. His steady eyes seem to peer right into my soul. They are filled with suspicious but also quiet concern. He still cares for me despite the cruel way I treated him; the way I've always treated others who got too close to me. I feel my spirit try to rise at the notion. Such a good person.

I guess I could give this love thing another try. I have never been one to quit things without some sort of fight. Call it nature or just plain stubbornness. It's my favorite part about my warped personality. Those who have befriended me have dubbed this trait as the one that makes me who I am.

The members of the table seem to be waiting for my answer. I shrug as I feel a sincere smile cross my lips. Why don't I put on another act for them? Except this time, I think I'll try harder to fit the role. And this time, I might even be doing it for me as well.

"Yeah, for once, I feel all right. Not good. Not bad. Just right."

Nicky smoothes down his vibrant black hair and smirks at my words. "That's good."