Sunday 06 June 1999
Tony's very handsome and, according to the mystique of people who do nothing, "very talented". Anne's very beautiful and likes beautiful things, particularly buying them. Tony's a huge drunk, and Anne's so addicted to this that she's followed him into the loony bin, while believing herself to be entirely "normal". Together, their relationship has all the compulsive- addictive qualities of two people utterly devoted to "loving" each other to death.
It is the shifting balance of power in their relationship which is so mesmerising. Alcoholism is a far more public addiction than, say, cake. It is the public nature of alcoholism that has enabled Anne to see all the problems in her life coming from Tony's drinking and none from elsewhere, let alone herself.
"Tony was pissed..." are the first three words of all her stories about their life, as if that explained why she burnt the dinner and her mother died from prostate cancer. She blames everything on Tony's drinking. Her friends, who have all seen Tony behaving like Hitler, feed these illusions of hers with their "understanding".
Tony, meanwhile, is a monster when he's drinking and, post-drink, a sobbing wretch looking for forgiveness. This is Anne's power over him. He despises her when he's drunk and she despises him when he's fallen to pieces. Both crave each other in this push-me pull-you nightmare they call "a fiery affair".
The balance of power after a few days sober is turning in Tony's favour. In a state of sobriety, he's beginning to see Anne as the madwoman who loved the repulsive specimen that was him. She's in a state of panic because Tony's not drinking and begging her forgiveness any more. She has no control any more. Her own drawbacks are also starting to loom, now that his aren't blotting out the sky.
"You are feeling the heavenly light beam," Paolo tells Handsome Tony. "You've got to look at yourself," mutters Mark the Style Guru to Beautiful Anne, the implications of which are, in his case, etched in the new pallor in his face.
Felipe the Gentle Giant sleeps on, taking it all in, or not. "Felipe, can you help Tony and Anne?" the Treatment Director asks. "By sharing an experience of your own?"
Felipe chews his gum and stays dumb. After a lengthy pause the TD asks, "How do you feel today, Felipe?" "Fine," Felipe replies half a minute later. And, you know, sometimes I wonder if Felipe actually is fine.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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