BY WOLE OGUNTOKUN
I FIRST saw the movie, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, several years ago starring Sean Connery and many others. In it, Connery played Alan Quartermain, who leads a company of unlikely superheroes, the like of which the world has never come across.
Along with Quartermain, there were Rodney Skinner, the invisible man (no one could see him); Captain Nemo who owned and captained a submarine called ‘The Nautilus’, a vessel that was a thousand years ahead of its time; Dr. Jekyll (also known as Mr Hyde); a female vampire known as Mina Harker; Sawyer, the American Secret Service agent and Dorian Grey.
For those who do not know, Oscar Wilde wrote a work of fiction titled “The Picture of Dorian Grey” (at least I hope it was fiction) where a good looking and wealthy young man (Grey) sold his soul to the devil.
The deal was he would preserve his good looks and youth forever while a picture painted of him would continue to age as the years rolled by. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But nothing ever is.
Along the way, he committed a murder or two, as such people are wont to do. The long and short of it is that you go look for the book. A man who does not read has little advantage over he that cannot read.
Dr Jekyll was a doctor who experimented with some portion and created a gruesome hulking alter ego that caused havoc every time he mutated into that creature (Hyde). Quartermain who led the group was a swash-buckling, gun-toting adventurer.
All characters in the comic book that became the movie known as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen were characters developed by other writers in their own works and it would do you good to read these books if you can.
WHAT struck The Whisperer a few days ago is how people that walk through our lives can be likened to the broad categories offered by this comic book and film.
How many of us have dated people we thought were the calmest, most easy-going people on the face of the earth and then found out in private moments or when they were irreversibly entrenched in our lives that our partners had separate and hidden sides to their characters that put the fear of God in us?
For some, it is the gentle, courteous man that becomes a vicious punch-thrower, with anger levels that border on foaming at the mouth and being rabid.
For others, it is the beautiful girl in whose mouth butter couldn’t melt who suddenly shows sloth could easily have been her middle name. In these cases, your amiable Dr. Jekyll has suddenly become a malformed Mr. Hyde and it is too late to run.
I know of a mentally ill person who married a girl that had no idea he was certified by doctors as very ill.
Now, anyone may marry anyone, the idea is to weigh the consequences and be sure you can handle whatever situation you find in. Major issues like mental illness should be shared with those we are serious with, however.
The girl in question only found out when he suffered a severe relapse, was rushed to a mental hospital and she was informed he had a long history of illness. When she confronted her mother-in-law, she was told to get a grip; she was married to him after all. Jekyll and Hyde.
SOME become involved with the avaricious invisible man-type. A man who seeks to take advantage of every one he comes in contact with.
For you to get this context right, a man who is invisible cannot be held by any borders or walls.
He comes and goes as he pleases and there are no laws that bind him. A true test of who you really are might be what you would get up to, if you had the chance to be truly invisible.
Think about it, the ability to escape punishment for any crime, any “sin”. I tell people that you can’t really tell what kind of person you are until you have enough money to afford all the vices. All of them.
It is when you can afford them and you choose not to that you may call yourself Mr. Fantastic.
How do you say you are not a drinker if you cannot afford to buy a beer? How do you say you do not chase skirts until you can afford to chase any “skirt” you set your heart on? Yes, for some “skirts”, even if they do not need your money, your bank balance is important. It shows you as a person they can relate with.
SOME of us have met Dorian Grey, good-looking on the outside but with secrets so dark no human heart should be forced to share their lives with this sort. When you sell your soul for immediate advantage, you are Dorian Grey.
The vampire-type is the one that sucks your essence, leaving you drained and without strength. It is strictly a one-way relationship, with your life force taken away from you and nothing given in return.
Alan Quartermain rates his or her work higher than you do. True, these are lofty ideals and worthy of emulation if done in moderation but often it is the relationship you have with this sort, which suffers.
The Secret Service agent follows closely on the heels of Quartermain, idealistic and believing that nothing should come before the work.
Sometimes, you may get it right with this one, if you are fortunate and both of you are certain of what you want from each other.
Why haven’t I tried to explain the Captain Nemo-type? I thought I shouldn’t take all the fun away. You work out the kind of man who climbs into a submarine a millennium ahead of its time and moves back and forth across the world in search of treasure and such things.
For some, they have met people who have had more than one of these characters rolled into their personalities. All I can advise is you study your partner before committing. An African proverb says only a fool tests the depths of water with both feet. I believe that.