People never change – at least that’s my unchanging opinion.
The question came up recently in a community of people I regularly speak with, and try as we might, we none of us could come up with a single instance of anyone we know who has actually made fundamental, character-core, personality-altering changes.
Sure, there’s a maturing process – people who buckle down after college… cut their hair… take on responsibility… don’t have to be told to take out the garbage or cut the lawn, or go to the dentist.
But the kid who would betray you in high school, pull the wings off flies, and bitterly blame others or cruel fate for every slight or disappointment, or in the alternative, always see the positive side of things (or at least be open to the hope that things might change) will likely continue to do so in a variety of more sophisticated ways, no matter the patina of respectability or grown-upedness they cloak themselves in as the years roll down that great cosmic bowling alley.
(My example was Doubleya; there he is I said, a former alcoholic, drug addicted, careless, spoilt frat boy, whose entire experience of the working world was both provided through - and subsequently bailed out by – his family; who quit cocaine and drinking, found religion, became President of the United States, yet hasn’t changed a whit or a bit. He’s still the same careless, self-absorbed, oblivious frat boy he always was. He’s just sober now.
(It wasn’t a lack of Jesus or a surfeit of alcohol that made him such an asshole back in the day – he was (and is) who he was. And is.)
Coincidentally, further proof of the axiomatic nature of character maintenance was revealed in a couple of stories published today in Canadian newspapers.
In one, a guy who was unjustly accused, tried, found guilty and imprisoned for the alleged crime of sodomizing and murdering his four year old niece twelve years ago, appears to remain the same confused and mystified young man at the age of thirty-four that he was back then; still trusting and believing in his mom, still missing the “.. smart, mischievous, funny” little niece who was “very special to me.”
That his life will never be the same goes without saying; that any potential the massively tall and goofy looking kid who didn’t fit in then (and surely won’t fit in now) has long been destroyed is an undeniable truth, and that his guilt was established by the consistently criminally mismanaged working practices of the doctor (Charles Smith, formerly Chief Pathologist at Sick Kids) who is responsible for rather more than a handful of similar horrors – and was solved by the same practice as were many of the others: by looking through his desk drawers for the exonerating evidence – is just par for this poor man’s particularly unlucky course.
One can only hope that his innocence, his exoneration, whatever cash settlement he receives for his wrongful incarceration and any subsequent civil cases his lawyers launch on his behalf against the deleterious doctor somehow allow him the peace and retro-kindness he deserves.
He probably won’t change, but maybe a little of his luck finally will.
And then there’s the other story; the story of a man himself known for the charming observation that “there’s no whore like an old whore” (and what does that little aphorism reveal about the aphorizer?) who is quoted today through his spokesthingy as being horrified, hurt, regretful, disbelieving, surprised, flabbergasted and shocked to the core that some of his choicest and juiciest (not to mention cruel and patronizing) opinions were published by the journalist with whom he shared them.
It’s just so bizarre to hear the moanings and wailings of a man forced to apologize to those whom he slandered – though whether he knew it or not, we pretty much knew what he thought; he’s not so subtle as he thinks – his excuse being that he thought none of it was for the record, that it was just harmless late night chitchat between two dear old friends.
The fact that this dear old friend was also the renowned author of a significant number of tomes that blew the lid off a significant number of pretty high profile people and institutions over the past couple of decades, and that at least some of the conversations they held were for the express purpose of laying the groundwork for a Mulroney biography, appeared to be beside the point.
Brian Mulroney, as he lies in his bed of pain, recovering from a serious pancreatic episode, now reportedly pauses only between bouts of clutching his belly and cursing the name of Peter C. Newman to pick up the phone and apologize to, amongst others, former Prime Minister Kim Campbell (she lost the subsequent election by being too busy “screwing her boyfriend”) Clyde Wells (a “son of a bitch” lacking in principle – pot! kettle!) and Pat Carney (irrational). He’d have to telephone the sons of the former Prime Minister, the late Pierre Trudeau to apologize for accusing their father of destroying Canada through his personal vanity, so that he, Mulroney would have to “come along and save it.” He might just as well save himself that unreturned voicemail – anything Justin or Alexandre might have to say was mercifully covered by the man who knew how to shuffle off his mortal coil unemcumbered by a series of late night unbosomings to a journalist well versed in the popularity of well-researched literary scandal.
‘The Secret Mulroney Tapes’, subtitled Unguarded Confessions of a Prime Minister by Peter C. Newman will soon be available for all to peruse; to measure the claim by the author that the bad is tempered by a number of anecdotes through which Newman believes people will interpret the lantern-jawed libeler as charming and likeable and good.
Personally, I think that particular ‘good’ ship has sailed.
You see nothing changes. Mulroney has been bitching for decades that no one appreciated him (if he had a brother, you know who mom would have liked best) but was certain that history would tell a different tale – that his accomplishments and character would be judged more fairly and squarely in the future than in the blistering heat of the unforgiving moment. That he would be loved and appreciated and recognized for all the great and good he did.
Just goes to show - there’s no fool like an old fool.