Sunday, August 09, 2009

Blueball Psycho

Like most people, I was troubled by the recent mass-shooting in Pittsburgh, where George Soldini, 48, calmly walked into a Latin Dance class at an LA Fitness Centre, turned out the lights, and opened fire with a few handguns he had stashed in a gym bag, killing three women and wounding nine others before turning the gun on himself. His intentions to do so were outlined in a blog he kept over the course of a year that apparently no one read.

What’s come out since then has been Sodini’s obsession over not having sex in years, and how this made him feel freakish, and ultimately homi- and suicidal. The most disturbing is a site that had the actual contents of his blog, which isn’t a long read. (While I don't advocate granting this guy's last wish to have his sick words live in infamy, it's worth reading once.) I’d like to comb through this and isolate certain passages that really struck me. Because much like the Virginia Tech massacre from April 2007 that I wrote about, there are so many annoying stereotypes put forth that they need some clarification. In the Virginia case, it was the media. In Soldini’s case, it was as if he was writing his clich├ęd, embarrassingly over-wrought “life story” – you know, his monument to not getting laid – that would serve as explanation of all this (when it explains nothing … a similar conclusion I came to in the Virginia shooting).

“Why do this?? To young girls? Just read below.”

From the first sentence, his core issue is put forth: not just that he’s not having sex, but his burning ambition in life is to have sex with “young girls.” There’s also a creepy video of him online, ironically about controlling his emotions, and even in that brief missive, he’s fantasizing about changing how he handles his emotions to better serve a relationship with a much younger woman. Later in his demented blog, he notes the young daughter of a local religious figure and a college-aged woman exiting a neighbor’s house in creepy ways. Watching that video, all I could think was, good luck getting laid by anybody. He’s got that officious “it’s under control” manner of speaking that always makes my skin crawl when I come across it in an office -- when I hear that tone of voice outside an office, I simply think the person is crazy. Why? Because it’s unnecessary – it’s someone trying to convince me he’s in control, when I can clearly determine if someone is in control or not. This guy sounds like a teenager trying to convince the world he’s intelligent … which is not an issue of intelligence, but lack of self assurance.

“Besides, dem young white hoez dig da bruthrs! LOL. More so than they dig the white dudes! Every daddy know when he sends his little girl to college, she be bangin a bruthr real good.”

That’s part of his first entry, where he laments the election of Obama as president. A theme he commonly touches on is his belief that everyone but him is not just having sex, but the kind of wondrous, life-affirming sex you see only in movies where there’s a soundtrack and two people with perfect bodies screwing in slow motion to a great song on the soundtrack. Well, that, or a well-hung Mandingo doing his thing with a white super-model … in either event, it’s a troubled man not seeing reality. I’m willing to wager no one at work caught on that he was a racist.

“Many of the young girls here look so beautiful as to not be human, very edible. After joining this gym, started lifting weights and like it.”

He’s objectifying, again, “young girls” as unobtainable sex objects – they’re not even human. It’s important to note that, because once he makes that delineation in his mind, it’s OK for him to kill them, since they’re not human to him. Like millions of other Americans, I go to the gym routinely. Flirt with women there. Notice the incredible shape some of them are in, and try not to ogle, which is hard as they dress to show off their bodies. And it’s not good to have that sort of casual, harmless sense of enjoying eye candy tied in with the deeper issues a psycho like this had. Granted, I’ve met a lot of creeps in gyms, particularly weightlifters, but that’s an entirely different breed from psychotic killers. Still, wheels are turning in his mind, if he stays young and fit – and he looks fine in the video and pictures – he’s still somehow in the running with these mythical “young girls.” (Some of the women he shot were, like him, in their 40s. I’d bet somewhere in his mid-30s he started developing this “young girls” logic to focus on his physical attraction to women in their teens and 20s.)

“No girlfriend since 1984, last Christmas with Pam was in 1983. Who knows why. I am not ugly or too weird. No sex since July 1990 either (I was 29). No shit! Over eighteen years ago. And did it maybe only 50-75 times in my life.”

He’s keeping count. And marking the calendar. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pam was Pam Dawber of Mork and Mindy fame, and he never really had sex with anyone. As I’ve pointed out many times before, life works like this: whatever you want to be a problem, will be a problem. If you’re not getting laid, and you want this to be a problem, it will be a problem. If you don’t want it to be a problem, it won’t be a problem. You decide. This guy was obviously in some fantasy world where everyone but him was getting laid, and their lives were wonderful as a result. He needed to get laid a lot more, if only to realize all your problems are not magically solved by having routine sex. I’d like to hear comments from female coworkers and such, even the mythical Pam, to hear what they have to say about him. The guy was this deeply troubled, yet he never did anything notably awkward or strange to women? I find that hard to believe.

“Just got back from tanning, been doing this for a while. No gym today, my elbow is sore again. I actually look good. I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne - yet 30 million women rejected me - over an 18 or 25-year period … Thirty million is my rough guesstimate of how many desirable single women there are.”

He was a narcissist, and I’m guessing the sex he had wasn’t that good, because he wasn’t fucking himself. If I could have seen him in the gym, I’d bet he was one of those 40ish guys in very good shape, tight stretch pants and matching shirt, sticking solely to the weights, gazing at himself in the mirror after a set of reps, posing … I see this all the time in gyms, guys constantly gazing at themselves in the mirror. It’s disturbing, but not something I dwell on as I’m too busy working out myself, and don’t even want to think what that sort of blatant self absorption implies.

“30 million women” rejected him? I’m willing to bet about five did. He was keeping score again: 18-25 year period. He was 48, meaning in his mind the rejection started at the ages of 23 or 30. I think he meant to say 48-year period. He projected his sense of failure onto all women – every single woman on earth had rejected him. Strange. I knew guys in high school who were no great shakes physically, mentally or emotionally. But they had a theory that if you hit on enough women, sooner or later, you’d get lucky … and they were right. I think Neil Strauss has made a small fortune with his book The Game putting forth the same theory … and I’d be curious to know if Soldini owned a copy.

“A man needs a woman for confidence. He gets a boost on the job, career, with other men, and everywhere else when he knows inside he has someone to spend the night with and who is also a friend. This type of life I see is a closed world with me specifically and totally excluded. Every other guy does this successfully to a degree.”

This is his fantasy world of relationships again. Over half of all marriages end in divorce, but he doesn’t seem to recognize those sort of things. Or married guys at work belly-aching about being married. Or married coworkers having affairs. Or the boredom so many people express about long-term relationships. Or fellow bachelors going through life and not being overly concerned about all this. And if you’re gay, you don’t exist in his world.

What do I think would have happened if he got a girlfriend with all this darkness swirling around in his head? He’d have probably killed her once he realized she wasn’t the magic girl with all the answers. I’ve seen plenty of psycho boy- and girlfriends in my time – people who lost control and did nasty things when relationships ended. Stalking, abusive phone calls, physical threats, etc. I’ve seen articles on this guy try to interpret “the line” one crosses to do something like this … and there is no line. He was just psychotic. Not because of his issues with women. Because he was psychotic. His issues with women were a symptom, not the cause, of his psychosis. What caused that, I don’t know. Bad chemicals in his brain? How he was raised? I don’t know; there probably is no easy, set answer. But the whole “lonely man not getting laid snaps” routine is just that. If he was gay and shot-up a gay bar instead of a health club? Same difference, although the story would surely have a different spin in the media.

“My dad never (not once) talked to me or asked about my life's details and tell me what he knew. He was just a useless sperm doner … Brother was actually counter-productive and would try to embarase me or discourage my efferts when persuing things, esp girls early on (teen years).”

This says a lot. His real problem may have been his inability to bond with other men. You’ll notice in his missives that he hardly mentions having any male friends, and the gym is apparently wall-to-wall “young girls.” Has negative views of his father, hates his older brother. One of the joys men should have in their lives is the ability to bond with each other – to be “guys” – to revel in that sense of manhood. Sodini’s life must have been totally bereft of this sort of camaraderie – he would have mentioned it somewhere in his twisted online journal. The one thing I gather from a lot of married men is the regret they feel over losing these sort of relationships due to familial responsibilities; they simply don’t have time to hang out with other guys. The easy out in this scenario is to focus on his chosen words, but the unwritten message is that Soldini didn’t understand or fully grasp how to be a man and interact with other men. And he thought having sex with "young girls" would be the key to unlock that door.

“Mum - The Central Boss ... Don't piss her off or she will be mad and vindictive for years. She actually thinks she's normal. Very dominant. Her way and only her way with no flexibility toward everyone in the household.”

A good rule of thumb in life: anyone over the age of, say, 25, still bitching about his or her parents is someone who’s mentally ill or just a shithead. (This is, of course, barring people raised by genuinely abusive parents.) But I think you’ll find most adults complaining about their parents go through life with a victim mentality; they see the same hostility and lack of caring in the world that they project onto how their parents raised them. I don’t doubt he has valid points about his mother here, but even if it’s true, and the relationship is that troubling, after a certain point in life, you just let it go. You’re an adult. You choose how you want to live your life. Life is better if you can maintain those sort of important relationships, but if they’re that genuinely problematic, you can let them go. (It should also be noted that minutes before he went on his killing spree, he called his mother and told him he was about to do something awful that would result in his death. He didn’t get her directly, left a message, and she phoned back moments after it was all over. Why did he call her?)

“I knew children of parents who grew up in strict religious homes. Religion has a certain stink to it of guilt, shame, fear, and that moral standard that always contradicts the natural tendencies and desires of a person.”

So there’s the dichotomy – he wasn't religious, apparently hated religion, but had not lived a life where he directly refuted religious dogmatism and lived a totally hedonistic, sex-all-the-time, wild-and-free existence … thus he’s a failure. This is like crossing a Porky’s movie with the religious tracts of Jonathan Edwards. The self-loathing intensified when he realized his sex-less life is no different from those of uptight religious people he seemed to loathe, e.g., these people were losers in his mind, thus he was, too.

“I see twenty something couples everywhere. I see a twenty something guy with a nice twentyish young women. I think those years slipped right by for me. Why should I continue another 20+ years alone? I will just work, come home, eat, maybe do something, then go to bed (alone) for the next day of the same thing. This is the Auschwitz Syndrome, to be in serious pain so long one thinks it is normal.”

I see twenty something couples all the time, too. Whether they’re happy or sad is none of my concern. Ditto forty something couples, or fifty or sixty something. I don’t envy or despise them. I know their realities are going to have the same mix of good and bad issues as mine. If they’re in their 20s, chances are good they’re fumbling through bad relationships that will hopefully end and teach them how to be better people, whatever else happens afterwards. A few bad relationships, maybe a blown marriage, would have done this guy a world of good in terms of grasping the bigger picture about personal happiness and who’s responsible for it. But, again, rational thought wasn’t his problem – there was something radically wrong with him.

“Some people are happy, some are miserable. It is difficult to live almost continuously feeling an undercurrent of fear, worry, discontentment and helplessness. I can talk and joke around and sound happy but under it all is something different that seems unchangable and a permanent part of my being. I need to realize the details of what I never accomplished in life and to be convinced the future is merely a continuation of the past … I made many big changes in the past two years but everything is still the same. Life is over. Even though I look good, dress well, well groomed - nails, teeth, hair, etc.”

It’s hard to fathom the shallowness Soldini lived with when his wish-list of accomplishments would have amounted to having endless sex with dozens of Barbie Dolls. Not writing a great novel. Or working on a cure for cancer. Or simply helping others in some way. No. Getting laid. By “young girls.” That’s it. That’s the life. That’s what it’s all about. I joke with friends about this all the time, but my three main goals in life are to stay sane, healthy and solvent. If I get married along the way, have kids, etc. … fine. If not, that’s fine, too. I don’t feel a fire lit under my ass to live life in an outline format – never have, never will. Sanity is the one part of that equation most people never concern themselves with, but it's obviously well worth anyone's time to do things in his life that keep him sane in some sense.

Soldini wasn’t doing that bad for himself. He had a steady job, that paid well, well enough that he could buy his own home near a major city (Pittsburgh isn’t a bad place to live), but I guess walking around an empty house in the suburbs only intensified his feelings of loneliness, as opposed to having the ability to enjoy his solitude. (You better believe I enjoy mine, and the harder issue I’d have would be giving it up if I got back into something again.) I'd guess that living in a suburb could intensity feelings of loneliness or failure for someone who isn't secure and stays single, as he'll spend his time surrounded by people fully engaged in family life. (The good thing about city life is you get all kinds of people and recognize there are many ways to go through life.) Then again, if a trip to a crowded Costco on a Saturday afternoon doesn't enlighten you that this shit isn't all it's cracked up to be, you're just not paying attention.

“I haven't met anybody recently (past 30 years) who I want to be close friends with OR who want to be close friends with me.”

That happens to everyone in degrees over time, especially once people get married and have kids. The key in life is to never make assumptions about how other people are living, regardless of positive or negative appearances. If you don’t like someone, you can easily project negativity onto that person, hope bad things happen to him or her, but it’s ultimately a waste of time and energy. Whether they succeed or fail is no skin off your nose. You should be working on your own sense of happiness/satisfaction with life. And if things aren’t working, you change.

It’s important to note the 30-year-mark, making him 18 when he stopped making friends, i.e., after high school. In so many ways he seemed emotionally mired in a teenage male way of seeing the world: insecure over sexuality, constantly measuring himself against some mythical standard (that implied “successful” people having earth-shattering sex with “young girls” every night of their lives), feeling attracted only to women around that age … which is a losing formula for a guy in his 40s, and probably not a good idea in general. I’ll find myself physically attracted to women in their mid-20s, but, boy, when they start talking, and I recognize how far along they are in terms of maturity, reality sets in. (I'm a Woody Allen fan, but can't watch his movie Manhattan because it's too creepy in light of later events in his life, and the thought of a guy in his 40s having a serious relationship with a teenager in high school is preposterous.) At some point in your life, you learn to value wisdom and experience … or you go through life blind and subscribing to philosophies better suited to “Crib” shows on MTV. (And I’m convinced there are millions of people who fall into this category, not just this lone psycho.)

“I was invited to a picnic, and I went. An older woman there, out of the blue, asked if I liked high school. Then quickly asked if I was picked on very much. Intersting why she would ask that.”

I’m assuming “older woman” means someone his age.

If a total stranger meets this guy at a picnic and deduces in seconds that there’s something off about him, shouldn’t there be many other people in his life who recognized the same quality? (I should also note that anyone starting a conversation like that must be a creep herself.) It’s virtually impossible to recognize the difference between a person who’s “creepy” in some sense and someone who is genuinely psychotic, and has lived his entire adult life trying to hide this from others. I’d like to think I’m smart enough to spot this, but I know I’m not. Very few people are – I’m sure an FBI profiler would have a lot of insight and abilities to spot someone like this. But their jobs are to track down people like this after they've started acting out, and I don't think I've ever read an instance of a potential psychotic killer being stopped before he goes on a spree.

There are plenty of odd middle-aged people out there, male and female, married and single/divorced, etc. You can think they’re all potential George Soldini’s, but they’re not. Whatever they’ve done wrong in their lives, whatever opportunities they’ve missed, whatever mistakes they made … it’s just part of the baggage that everyone carries. How well they carry it will determine how they live. If your eyes are open as you go through life, you recognize this in everyone. Want to pretend that nebbish guy at work is going to go postal? Go ahead. But his life is probably no better or worse than yours, and he’s going to go on living, the same way you will. The circumstances of our lives are one thing: mental illness is another. If you think your life is bad, I assure you, it could be worse. We live in such a spoiled society that most people can’t recognize how relatively easy we have it in comparison to previous generations. Then again, maybe that’s a problem, creating “failure” out of nothing because we’re bored with life.

“I was reading several posts on different forums and it seems many teenage girls have sex frequently. One 16 year old does it usually three times a day with her boyfriend. So, err, after a month of that, this little hoe has had more sex than ME in my LIFE, and I am 48.”

The internet is cancer for people with mental problems. He was reading teen sex forums. Why? Obviously, I know why, but how pathetic was that. That passage is the one that disturbed me the most. What anyone would hope to gain reading senseless junk like that, I have no idea.

The rest is just endless repetition of his core issues, until the end. All I can think is three innocent people had to die, nine others were seriously injured, and dozens of lives scarred because of this man, who was in desperate need of mental help. He didn’t “need to get laid” – this would have solved nothing. He needed to get mental treatment, and if that wasn’t an option, he needed to kill himself, as opposed to taking other people with him. It wouldn't surprise me if the gym was empty this weekend.


Andy S. said...

"But their jobs are to track down people like this after they've started acting out, and I don't think I've ever read an instance of a potential psychotic killer being stopped before he goes on a spree."

Because before he goes on the spree, it's pretty much impossible to identify him as a psychotic killer. That's why all the ideas about prevention, such as gene identification, are inherently faulty. There's no real way to know in advance how serious someone is, how sick.

Besides, things that don't happen aren't nearly as interesting to read, or write, about as things that do. Not many ironies there, or lessons to be learned.

But even when there's ample evidence that someone intends to do something horrific, and that evidence has clearly been seen by a lot of people, it still usually doesn't get stopped. That's what happened in Littleton, Colorado, at Columbine High School.

Paul said...

I've been reading a bit on narcissism lately, mainly because I'm seeing it everywhere (and not just on reality TV). This shrink blogger I like,, sums it up as, more or less as: narcissists don't necessarily believe they are superior beings or without flaws, but that they are the "star" of the movie and the rest of us are bit players. This guy just slowly realized that he wasn't the star of a romantic comedy, so what's the ending? Ah, it's a slasher movie! Just need to follow the script to the logical conclusion.