Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there lived a narcissist. We’ll call him Speedy. You’ve met Speedy before. He lived a fairly colorful life, full of conflict. He meddled with everything and everyone…co-workers, neighbors, family.
Now, Speedy had an acquaintance we’ll call Fred. And one day, Fred died. It was very, very sad.
But I’m getting ahead of myself in the story!
In order for this story to come out right, you need to know that Speedy was deeply religious. Let me rephrase that. He preached at other people a lot, but I’m not so sure that Speedy and God were all that close, even if his Bible was always near his elbow. Joy, peace, patience…all were conspicuous by their absence from Speedy’s life.
But after his big vision of Christ in the 1970’s, Speedy preached to everybody. And if they didn’t drop to their knees after he’d preached at them, Speedy didn’t say very nice things about them behind their backs afterwards. Basically, Speedy said they were going to Hell. Fred, unfortunately, was one of these people.
Where was I?
Oh yes! Fred was dead: to begin with. “There is no doubt that Fred was dead,” as Charles Dickens so brilliantly wrote in A Christmas Carol, “This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.”
And Fred’s family involved Speedy in their planning for Fred’s funeral and burial.
That was their first mistake.
Not even death can make narcissism take a holiday. You know it’s true because you’ve told me your stories. Stories of narcissists screaming at each over the corpse of the Dear Departed. Tales of narcissists accusing their grieving siblings of “stealing the show” because they shed a tear or two. Even suspicions that narcissists, as Eliza Dolittle said in My Fair Lady, “done the ol’ woman in” to get their inheritance now.
But Speedy was a more covert, a more cerebral, a more hush-hush narcissist. He did his dirty work in secret and in private.
And when Speedy heard that Fred’s family was going to have the preacher say at the funeral that Fred went to Heaven…well! Speedy wasn’t having any of it.
His rationalization was that he didn’t want the attendees of Fred’s funeral to think that if Fred went to Heaven they’d be going there too. That was what he told himself, Mrs. Speedy and their daughter, Honey. His conscience just wouldn’t allow him to stand idly by while a pastor gave Fred or anyone else “false assurance” of Eternal Bliss.
Yeah. I know. WTF!?
Finding some pretense for leaving the grieving family, Speedy jumped in his car and drove straight to the officiating pastor’s house with Honey in tow. That’s right. He went behind the family’s backs and spoke directly with the pastor.
And that is why, on the day Fred was buried, the pastor said this: “If Fred prayed…then he is in Heaven today.” Did you catch it!? “If” is the operative word. It introduced an element of doubt. It was so subtle that no one caught it. But Speedy was pleased.
So that is the tale of how, even in death, narcissists must meddle, must judge, must control.
I wish I could say that Speedy lived happily ever afterward, but it wouldn’t be true because, y’know, Speedy was a narcissist and narcissists are rarely happy. Wait. Correction: Narcissists love to be upset, angry and pissed off. So, I guess in a way. Speedy did live happily ever afterward because he was often upset, usually angry and frequently pissed off.
In an odd twist of fate, two years after Fred died, Speedy nearly died himself…and he was furious that God would allow a “good person” like himself to get sick!
But that’s another story for another day.