When I was a mere young lad my German grandmother used to take me on a long journey to the corner store – which was across the street from her apartment building. Fittingly, it was located on the corner and was run by two German gentlemen, one of whom was named Hans.
Hans was a towering gentleman with hands the size of oxen and a quiet, almost painfully-stern, disposition. He wore a crisp white apron and was rarely seen without a broom in his hand. On rare occasions Hans would engage in what he would no doubt consider an act of madcap joy;he would reach into the cooler and give me a free ice cream sandwich which I would devour with childish glee until my face was covered in ice cream and soft cookie bits.
One day, while I was covering my young face in ice creamy goodness I heard my grandmother discussing current neighborhood events with her compatriots; it seems Hans had confronted a thief. The normally reserved shopkeeper became unhinged at the thought of someone stealing from a business he broke his back building… so he threw the would-be thief out the door.
To be clear, Hans threw the thief through the actual door of his shop. I asked my grandmother why Hans behaved in such a violent manner and her answer perplexed me.
“He is two people, Bobby. One man is nice and gentle with you, the other is still in the war and always will be.”
I was gobsmacked. Hans was two people? One was civilized and the other battled criminals? There was only one explanation that satisfied my still-developing brain.
Hans was Batman.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking:
- “Hans wasn’t Batman, Hook! The Dark Knight wasn’t German.”
- “Your grandmother called you Bobby?”
To both of these I say… shut up.
Hans was obviously dealing with PTSD long before we called it that, but I remain fascinated by the duality of our psyches. And now I will tell you why.
There are far too many moments these days where I feel as though The Hook and Robert Hookey are actually two separate individuals.
Does this mean I have to pay twice as many taxes, Justin Trudeau?
Kidding aside (since I suck at it anyway) a strange thing has been happening lately. One minute, I’m a happy-go-lucky-yet-balding, forty-year-old guy with a gorgeous wife, an exceptionally-bright teenage daughter and a beyond-nutty dog. The next minute, I’m a ridiculously-depressed, middle-aged guy with an ever-expanding gut, IBS and an ever-increasing feeling of dread and failure. At first there was a wide chasm between these mood swings.
But that gap is growing smaller ever day.
As Robert I’m a happy guy. I mean, I’m not doing cartwheels or anything – my knee injury has ensured that’ll never be a possibility – but overall, I’m good. Sure, my daughter is suffering terribly from Interstitial cystitis, the dog recently suffered the canine equivalent of a herniated disc and my wife spends all her time worrying about both of them, but things are tough all over, right?
Robert’s mortgage is paid, he has no debt weighing him down and he’s gainfully employed.
Hell, they just announced that minimum wage in Ontario is going up in January, so Robert’s doing better than ever in the cash department.
Of course, that cash comes from The Hook, who often has to do the hospitality equivalent of a trained monkey dance in order to convince travelers to drop a few coins or bills into his hands. This arrangement has existed for twenty years and up until recently, it’s worked out pretty well. The Hook and Robert have merely been two halves of the same coin; two sides of the same man-child’s personality.
But more and I feel like two separate people in one rapidly-decaying body.
The Hook rarely feels the full effects of IBS as he’s traversing the halls he walks daily but Robert is up for at least an hour straining to have a decent bowel movement. Every. Single. Night. (Sexy sentence, right, ladies?)
Robert’s life really hasn’t been too adversely impacted by the Great Sawhorse Debacle of 2014, as it’s referred to in the Hookey household, but The Hook feels it when the weather is damp enough. A throbbing knee is not exactly conducive to a successful career as a bellman, kids.
The Hook has almost two thousand followers on Twitter. As an adult, Robert’s friends are all too busy to socialize, so his colleagues/brothers-in-arms are his social circle.
Robert put his name a self-published book once. It was a total disaster.
The Hook’s adventures were chronicled in Robert’s book. It was still a total disaster.
Filming a trailer for a web series focusing on The Hook’s hotel misadventures is Robert’s greatest dream at the moment. But without resources or a location or any assistance beyond some good friends who have volunteered to be his actors, he’s completely out of luck. This has left both The Hook and Robert in a funk from which there is no apparent escape.
Robert’s daughter is up almost every night reeling from the effects of the aforementioned Interstitial cystitis and there is absolutely nothing he can do to ease her pain.
One of The Hook’s longtime colleagues is wrestling with serious health issues and this crisis weighs on him terribly; Robert feels that weight and more on him at night as sleep eludes him.
The Hook’s many posts centered on Murdoch Mysteries garnered Robert two invitations to the MM set. Neither invitation actually materialized. The same has held true for the dozens of unrealized 5x5s The Hook is waiting on. A “yes” doesn’t actually mean anything these days, friends. Of course, people, especially professional types, are busy wrestling with their own challenges theses days, so they can’t be expected to jump though hoops for an insignificant blogger most people assume is either a fisherman or a Canadian pirate.
Not that it really matters anyway; a busted creative engine means The Hook’s 5×5 offerings are going to be less than stellar.
Depression, if that’s what this is, is not the amusement park thrill ride the media promises, kids.
The weight of the world will break you if held for too long, friends. It will render your creative engine inert, incapable of producing posts, forcing you to blog about an identity crisis that may or may not even exist.
Still, it’s just another challenge to deal with, another mountain to scale.
Wish me luck won’t you?
See you in the lobby, kids…