Thursday, 2 May 2013

Only human

Isn't it fun when someone who seemed to be so angelic, so saintly, so pure, turns out to have some unsuspected Achilles Heel that makes them more like a human being - and more like you and me?

It's so galling when a person comes on as the perfect mother or Ms Generosity or Mr Infinitely-Patient-And-Understanding, and you're all too aware of your own boundless faults and failings.

You want to be admiring and complimentary, but there's a part of you that's also irritated and niggled by this apparent perfection, this inhuman flawlessness that just seems too good to be true.

You're constantly on the lookout for the cracks in the facade, the chinks in the armour, the carefully hidden reality behind the public persona. And you're constantly frustrated that it always seems to be the real McCoy.

Then one day you just happen to discover that the perfect mother has slapped her child, or Ms Generosity walked straight past a homeless person, or Mr Infinitely Patient showered a sales assistant with abuse, and you're so relieved because they've turned out to be mere mortals after all and not some impossible, unassailable paragon of virtue. They're just like me! They have feet of clay! Woo hoo!

Even better of course if over and above the contradictory behaviour they let slip that they have some truly debilitating weakness that's constantly about to overwhelm them - they're a slave to alcohol or drugs, they can't stop shopping, they like to be whipped, they're neat freaks. And you think, thank God for that, they're as human as the rest of us, they have their inner demons and their embarrassing habits. They've finally fallen off the pedestal. They've come clean.

23 comments:

Bijoux said...

Maybe I'm jaded, but I've never met anyone that seemed all that perfect. I've always found people to reveal their faults (knowingly and unknowingly) in about the second conversation.

John Gray said...

I had a boyfriend who said he only fancied me because my face was asymmetrical and imperfect

Secret Agent Woman said...

Well no, actually. Not that I've met anyone who I thought was "perfect," but I actually love being around people who are, as far as I can tell, genuinely loving or compassionate or whatever. They give me hope for the world.

Nick said...

Bijoux: Maybe you're especially alert to people's faults and you threw out the rose-tinted spectacles a long time ago!

John: There's hope for us all then!

Agent: I guess like Bijoux you see a person's flaws pretty quickly. Indeed, people who seem to be genuinely compassionate and loving are a joy to be with.

Wisewebwoman said...

"There's a crack, a crack, in everything, it's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen.

And in people too. I've never seen anyone as perfect.

Just as loving or wounded.

XO
WWW

Murr Brewster said...

Ohhh! EsPECially "likes to be whipped!"

Nick said...

www: Loving or wounded, that's an excellent distinction. Though even the most loving person can have their tetchy, disgruntled moments.

Murr: Goodness, is this a personal confession? Or just your most favourite flaw?

Rummuser said...

I never have any expectations to start with and so neither keep anyone on a pedestal nor celebrate when s/he falls off it. The obverse is also true I have noticed. The meanest man on the street can suddenly rescue a stray animal and care for it till the owner is found or the local tough could be found slipping a few rupees to the homeless old lady in the corner.

Roses said...

Are we really 5 that we need to see people in "good" and "bad" terms? That we need to put people on pedestals?

Why can't people be themselves, however they are in the moment? Good, bad and indifferent?

And who are we to judge?

This argument has been playing out in the media's portrayals of so-called celebrities and it's a simplified thinking that is really not very useful at all. People swing from saints to sinners to martyrs. It's not who they really are. People are complex and it's the grey in their behaviour which make them interesting.

Nick said...

Ramana: How very down-to-earth and clear-sighted my blogmates are! The reverse could also be true, as you say. Though that suggests you're seeing some people through er, whatever is the opposite of rose-tinted spectacles....

Nick said...

Roses: Well, I know in theory we all see everyone exactly as they are, in 50 shades of good and bad, but in practice....

I'm not judging anyone, I'm just saying that we can get a false impression of people until we know a bit more about them. Certainly the simplistic stereotyping of celebs is ludicrous.

Grannymar said...

I have a relation who is fond of using the phrase: We love (insert name) warts and all!

I just hope that people accept me as I am, whether I have warts or not.

Nick said...

Grannymar: That's the big test, isn't it? Do we still love someone once we've found out the worst about them?

Neil said...

Oh so true! My boss - no, ex-boss but she can't let go - is perfect. And always right. And the trouble is - she is. So totally frustrating.

Nick said...

Neil: There must be some imperfections lurking in the wings. They'll tumble out sooner or later. Nobody's perfect.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Well, I know what you mean, and on an everyday level it does annoy when someone seems holier-than-thou and actually seems to BE like that.

However, the person closest to perfection for me was Johnny Depp. And notice I say 'was'. An Achilles heel was indeed discovered in this clean-living, family-centred, loyal, generous, sweet, funny and incredibly handsome, talented and sexy man and it still makes me unutterably sad.

Here was someone who genuinely did seem to have shaken off his slightly shady past (the usual peccadilloes of too-much-too-young) and become a grounded and level-headed superstar. Or not. There came the day when the wonderful relationship he had with his 'girl' broke apart amid jealously and rumours - all over (*sigh*) another woman. The binge drinking began again and there you go. Feet of clay.

Just goes to prove that nobody is perfect, doesn't it? Nobody. Which is some small comfort to the rest of us!

kylie said...

so who fell from grace, then?

Nick said...

Jay: Good example. Celebs are especially prone to this idealising process. Which eventually collapses when a few ugly truths emerge. We don't always realise the elaborate PR that goes into maintaining the glossy image and keeping the flaws carefully hidden.

Nick said...

Kylie: I think in particular of a woman I was obsessed with many years ago. She always seemed so wise and compassionate and generally sophisticated. I never did stumble on any nasty side, probably because I was never a close friend, only an admiring workmate.

Murr Brewster said...

Not a personal confession. I don't even like being whipped at Scrabble.

Nick said...

Murr: Oh indeed, being whipped at Scrabble is a horrible experience. Any prospect of that and I *accidentally* upset the board.

Jenny Woolf said...

People who are perfect often seem to be trying a bit too hard to me.I can't bear the "Horrid Henry" books really - but I must say that Perfect Peter seems to fit that particular stereotype rather well.

Nick said...

Jenny: Trying too hard to hide all the yukky bits probably! I don't know Horrid Henry or Perfect Peter. Do they actually have the opposite traits as well, or are they single-mindedly horrid and perfect?