Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Astronaut Loses Mind Over a Guy...

For some people, it takes one thing to catalyze a certain kind of madness. People who have functioned at a high level all their lives -- and Lisa Nowak most certainly was one of those -- need only the wrong combination of nascent emotional problems and trigger events, and all may be lost. Something looks like love to them, and anything resembling sense simply vanishes.

Lots of women--and men--have done bizarre and criminal things in the name of love (or lust, really big lust).

I remember doing some of the usual, harmless, crazy stuff during my youthful infatuations: In Junior High, I walked around and around and around the halls just to get a series of glimpses of Jose Crespo, who made my heart throb and who liked to stand in the doorway of this particular classroom at that particular time. The only way I could get a look--and another look, and another look--at his cutiepie self was to just keep circling the hall until the last bell rang.

I must have seemed like a genuine dodohead. Ah, those teen crushes.

And I remember finding excuses to bike by X's house a dozen times or drop into Y's job several times a day, or spend all my cash at establishment ABC cause Z worked there. What else? Taking up a hobby in which I had no interest cause DEF dude with his shining eyes and curly hair liked that particular pasttime. Making believe I had done more interesting things than I really had cause John Doe was well-traveled and better read.

But all those were only minimally hurtful, almost innocent. And I don't mean to say that fibbing and lusting are not sins, but that in the context of wild infatuation, those really are lesser misdeeds.

Less innocent was my longing to ingest some elegant, historically or fictionally significant poison just cause that dreamboat wouldn't give me the time of day.

Teen despair is a self-absorbed and ugly thing, and it can lead to death. (Avoid poisons!)

I remember, too, a more far-reaching, less innocent outworking of a high school crush: A particular boy, let's call him T, and a particular freckled minx we'll call A, and the weird triangle that resulted when A decided she wanted T for her own. T had already begun pursuing me and I was mildly engaged by his blue, blue eyes. A wanted T with such fervor that she began a frantic campaign to get between he and me by working up his lust. Guys being guys... Well, off we went. Some ugly stuff resulted. Fortunately, no blood loss ensued, just lots of purple ink in gossipy slander campaigns that ended up making friends take sides--Mir's side, A's side--with laconic T in the middle. Lots of fury and marked up t-shirts, nasty looks and nastier words. (I did say no blood loss, right?)

In the end, I fought to hang on to a guy I didn't really love and wasn't even all that attracted to, though he was blond, slim, sky-eyed, and very sweet-natured. It became this hormone-fueled and anger-escalating thing. Mine, not yours. MINE! MINE!!!!!

He ended up choosing me, publicly proclaiming his love, and doggedly dropping into my classes when he wasn't sneaking by open classroom windows to steal kisses. I had won. And I immediately, shamefully, realized I didn't want him at all. I just didn't want HER to have him and thereby cause me to lose teen face.

Gosh, I'm so glad I'm not 16 anymore. (Though I'd trip back to 22 gladly because my husband's legs in their prime are worth time-travel.)

So, when I read in the news about Capt. Lisa Nowak--married, three kids, engineer, astronaut--and her wild ride in diapers to accost the woman (Capt. Colleen Shipman) she considered her rival for the attentions of an unmarried fellow astronaut, Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, my first thought was this: Lady, you're 43. You should have outgrown that sort of love-addled weirdness by 20 or 21, by 25 tops.

At some point, you gotta tell yourself that, no, you don't do anything for love, and you certainly don't commit a series of crimes for love, or, honestly, it's not love. It's lunacy.

Now, lunacy has a mild charm in those post-pubertal years. We expect teens to be overyly dramatic about things. A bad hair day is a reason to run off to the desert. An unflattering dress is cause for joining a cloister. A hurtful bit of gossip gives you a full-blown case of depression. The right boy not noticing you means you have no value and why bother breathing. Having ten extra pounds is worse than having tuberculosis, which, at least, might guarantee some slenderness.

Teen years. They are a cauldron of angst and desires and anxieties and terrors and every emotion comes bottled hot and full of fizz.

And, yes, it's a time you get to be unwise and, doubly yes, silly. Immaturity and silliness are forgivable only in the very young. Wisdom is supposed to, you know, catch up with you, along with some self-control.

Back to Nowak. This astronaut had a successful, role-model sort of career. She has three kids. She's married. What in heaven's name went through her mind that made these actions reasonable to act upon? And what's going through her hubby's and kid's minds? Or hers now, after the arrest fact.


Attraction is a very powerful thing. People do kill over lust and love. Which is why we must learn to tame it. That's what growing up entails. Yes, you get all silly over the Jose Crespos and the Guillermo Garcias (ah, I still remember that 18 year old face from 1978) and the T's that put you in confrontation with the A's, and you learn from the awful embarrassments and terrible agonies that assail you when you are in the dark of your room listening to some melancholic rocker or jazz artist that, okay, some things you get to feel and feel hard, and some desires you get to imagine and no more, because some desires you don't get to ACT OUT with impunity, without ruining some part or all of your life.

I still get giddy at the sight of my husband. I know that if some woman made a serious play for him, I'd want to carve out her eyes and make her eat them. But I wouldn't. I'm old enough to know the consequences are not to my liking. Grown-ups consider outcomes, not just desires.

You don't shed blood over a guy, Capt. Nowak. You don't pepper spray rivals. You don't plot whatever it is that takes a knife and rubber tubing. You sign up for Tai Chi or a dance class, or you get a therapist and talk it out, you go have a series of extended coffee klatsches with girlfriends and weep it out of your system, or you go join a drumming circle until you're too tired to drive in diapers, or you just move away from the temptation and take a loss. But you don't kidnap or kill over some guy (or gal).

It doesn't end well.

Capt. Lisa Nowak didn't get lost in space, but she got lost just the same.

I'm thinking we'll probably hear that Nowak has some mental issue: "Job stress affected her reason." We'll see psychiatrists trotted out to explain the whys and wherefores of this and that stressor or syndrome or disorder.

I figure, unless she's gone totally off the edge of the world psych-wise, that even she herself will come to see that diapering for the fast haul to do damage to an innocent party who had the right to gain the affections of a dishy astronaut, both of them being single and all--hey, that's nuts.

Even for a 16 year-old in hormonal flux, that's nuts.


Carmen Andres said...

ah, mir, this post is one of the reasons i try to hit your blog everyday. well ruminated, my friend!

Nissa Annakindt said...

Thank goodness I've always had the good sense to fall in love with fictional characters instead of unavailable real people. Much less messy that way, and you save money on the pepper spray and diapers.