Karen Rivers

let's agree to this.

Karen Rivers

I don't want to write about him, but it's everywhere, isn't it?  People are saying things eloquently and people are saying things ineloquently and people keep writing more and more things until it feels like the internet is overflowing with all the things we now know, that we can't unknow.  People say, "Oh, I'd heard that about him."  I had also heard, but only that he was handsy.  That was the word.  Handsy.  There are two things that are inextricably now linked to the debacle:  the word "handsy" and that teddy bear.  The bear bothers me so much.  It forces me to see him as a person who was perhaps broken as a child.  All the children get broken when they are dropped from high heights. Not literally, you understand that's a metaphor.  Someone broke him.  Something.   He is not a well-person.  But who is?  And aren't we all repsonsible for our own brokeness, eventually?  Or else no one is responsible for anything.  We can say, "It was because of something terrible when I was a kid."  Childhood can be hard.  We persevere.  We become better people.   Some of us.   But maybe nothing happened to him, no heights that he fell from, except for now, of course.  He's in freefall, like Baumgartner when he stepped out of that capsule for RedBull, only he has no sponsors.  No one's going to touch him now.   Certainly, no one is going to pay him.  


The bear got to me.  And the women, obviously.   They were so young.  Not that it matters, but really.  He has formed part of who they are now.   It's untenable, yet it is necessarily true.   And there have to be more.  Has anyone come forward and said, "Well, I got with him and it was awesome, I loved it?"  No.  No one has.  No one did.  No one will, I'm going to bet.   Men who are single for long long long periods of time  yet always playing, always flirting, always "on" -- are these just "bachelors" or men to whom no one will go back, murmuring to their girlfriends, stay away?  I appreciate the code.  I do.  But what if no one murmured it to you?  Now people say, "Well, of course, you know about the others, in the Canadian literati" (Oh, I hate that word, sorry, but I used it anyway, it's so elitist and awful, somehow.)  And I say, "No?  Who is it?  Who are they?  Which ones?"  And no one says.  No one really wants to tell.  Please, tell. There ARE others.  Who?  Maybe it's all of them.  Everyone.  I don't want to think like that.  I have a daughter.   I don't want to see evil lurking, but there it is:  lurking.  Under there.  Over there.  In that classroom.   Behind that microphone.  Now, who knows where?  Someone knows.  People are murmuring.


Anyway, about him.  Was he really ALL THAT?  I heard him interview a few people.  He was fine.  I'm not downplaying him because of what he did, but I'm wondering, was he really the demi-god of radio he is now being touted to be?  I remember thinking he was cute, but not much beyond that, then an article posted somewhere, I concluded he was a sleazeball, but not much more.    It's all mixed up like this, consuming the famous like we do, unable to juxtapose "famous guy" and "good looking guy" with "sexual assaulter". Worse, we are incapable of not making someone MORE famous when something terrible occurs.  I hadn't heard of OJ Simpson before the chase, that's the truth.   We are elevating all of them into infamy by talking and talking and talking but we can't stop.  I can't stop.  I keep reading. I seriously never spent more than five minutes before now thinking about this person, but now I'm writing this.   Why?   I don't want to, but I am.   Famous people are just people.  Sometimes terrible people.  Maybe that's the secret we want to reveal.  It reveals itself.   Without our help. But we want to hurry it along, LOOK AT THE FAMOUS, THEY ARE JUST LIKE US.   


It's the bear that tips the balance, makes it all something extra disturbing, extra sad, extra scary.  I want to fast forward.  I want to see how it ends.  The women, vindicated, helped, better.   The man, in jail, removed, erased.   Oh, get him the "help" he needs.  Does he need "help"?  We help everyone.  We didn't help those women.  As a society, we should hang our heads.  I feel ashamed and I'm not even sure why.  I feel mostly terrible that they are where they are, waiting for names to leak out, to be put on trial themselves.  And for what?  Thinking he was cute?  Going to his house?  Kissing him?  No.  Let's not do that.   Come on.  "Handsy" wasn't nearly the right word, but we had already tattooed it on his persona.  We knew.  We thought we had him pegged.  But we didn't know THAT.  We didn't!  Did we?   I didn't.  Who DID?  "Handsy" was a fatal mistake.  What we thought we knew was so much different from what we now know.


And it's a widening gulf.   

Maybe instead of being a giant public amoeba enveloping this thing, swarming the story and forming a vacuole over and over again, we can work in reverse.  We can be an amoeba vomiting out a parasite.  Do they do that?  I don't know, but I imagine they should be able to.  Let's just eject him.  Let's decide.


I hope the women talk.  Safely.  Freely.  And then he pays.  Let's say that happens.  Then, as a whole, let's just decide he was never that great, and while he's in jail, enjoying three square meals a day and what I always imagine is a lot of basketball out in the yard, we'll get on with it.  We'll listen to different things on the radio.  Who really listens to radio now?  There are so many great podcasts.  Let's listen to those. But I do like the CBC, when I'm driving.  I like how the miles peel away outside the window, all of that Canada-ness exposing itself like a dog rolling over and showing its belly, the radio playing in that specific CBC low pitch in the background.  It's almost like an anthem of sorts.  Well, now without him.   No loss, I'll say.  The CBC will still be just what it is, a comforting sound that you hear while you drive through the mountains, the weather changing from snow to sun to rain and back again, your tires slowly wearing down on all those endless highways, the radio still playing, things still going on, bad things, good things, all things, time passing, the world forgetting who he was, forgetting that bear, moving on.


But let's make a pact.  Let's not murmur, "He's handsy, careful."  Let's shout it.  Let's scream it at the top of our lungs.  The other women will listen, even if no one else does.  Our friends will listen.  Our families.  Our sisters.  Our daughters.  We're all listening.  Tell us all.  We'll pass it on.  We will become one giant woman, our voice so loud, it will drown out all the radios, it will blare from the mountain tops, it will become what we all know, who we all are.  NO, we will say.  NO.  And he'll hear us.  They'll all hear us.  I promise.  If we're loud enough, they will.