Discover more from All My Eggs
Foiling My Fatal Flaws
More outward introspection
For the final line of his Year 10 analytical Shakespeare essay, a kid in my brother’s year at school wrote, ‘It was the fatal flaw of ambition that led Macbeth to his Macdeath.’ He posted a picture of it on Facebook. The teacher had circled ‘Macdeath’ twice in red pen and written ‘No!! Liam, no! Never do this again!’ in the margin.
Though the rhyming couplet might have cost him some marks, Liam was bang on. The tyrannical Thane of Cawdor, the regiciding, witch-abiding, Duncan-slaying Macbeth, really had been spurred on and ultimately destroyed by his ambition. A textbook fatal flaw! An inbuilt character trait that was a strength, turned to a weakness, turned to—please excuse me—a beheading.
I saw a lot of similarities between myself and Macbeth when I was in Year 10. The Scottishness. The red-gold hair. The susceptibility to the prophecy of witches. I became obsessed by the idea that there must also be a fatal flaw lurking somewhere inside of me, some terrible timebomb ticking away. Did I brush my teeth too thoroughly, leading to early onset gum recession? Was my ability to juggle dooming me to some sort of gruesome circus death, to biting off one more flaming sword than I could really chew?
Decapitation notwithstanding, Macbeth was pretty lucky; his fatal flaw was obvious, conventional, and regularly made clear to him. What I would give to have three sorcerer hags leer out from the shadows and hiss specific personality insights at me—in the real world, we must work out for ourselves what our flaws are, how they might destroy us, and what to do to fix them.
And what better arena for this deeply personal exercise than a public blog that’s apparently widely read by my girlfriend’s extended family? Hi Val!
Helping to the point of being unhelpful
The Flaw: Though this might seem like the kind of “weakness” you’d volunteer in a job interview, in the same league as ‘Perfectionism’ and ‘I just can’t seem to stop delivering high quality work way ahead of schedule,’ I promise you it is sinister and very possibly fatal. Helpfulness is only helpful to a point. Then it becomes insufferable and annoying. My ‘helpful’ mode is this sort of high-gusto, low intelligence, near-rabid flow state, including, but not limited to, maniacally mopping spills that could be paper-towelled or even ignored. Over-soothing people who are only in medium to low distress. Putting Maddie’s knife in the dishwasher the exact instant she stops looking at it, then rushing off to fold some towels or something, so she has to get a new knife out for the peanut butter—this could happen three or four times in the space of a single breakfast.
How it might destroy me: Any number of ways. I could unwittingly launch myself into a malfunctioning fuse box. I might mindlessly pursue a stranger’s windswept napkin into traffic.
How to fix it: The problem will solve itself if I just never help another person for any reason. As my grandfather famously used to say, ‘Lend a hand, borrow trouble.’
My footwear is too arch supportive
The Flaw: A podiatrist once told me that I have one of the highest foot arches that he has ever seen in a 20 year career. I am looking into a custom bumper sticker, yes. For some reason—that reason being gravity—the balls of my feet, my dear sweet sesamoids, hurt all the time. At great personal expense I now own and exclusively wear one of the following shoes (unless swimming or asleep):
Customised arch supportive thongs
Customised arch supportive slippers
Ecco’s arch supportive business loafers with extra padding
Crocs (with socks for extra grip)
The very best shoe known to man, Asics’ highly cushioned all black Gel Kayanos, which are appropriate for weddings, exercise, and semi-casual dress.
Though I don’t personally think that this one is a “problem” per se, people from all walks of life often tell me that I look like a dork.
How it might destroy me: My sesamoids now live a sheltered, permanently cushioned existence. They’ve gone soft. I don’t think I’m being overdramatic when I say that, if someone pushed on them hard enough, the pain might be so shocking that I die.
How to fix it: Sleep in my Asics.
A dire case of the Morning Sleepies
The Flaw: Whenever Maddie has to get up before me and I have my own alarm set for later on, I often enter a bizarro, panic-stricken but also sumptuously warm and gooey fugue state, where I will magically drift off to sleep and then a minute or so later suddenly jolt awake and hiss at Maddie that she fell back asleep and is running really late and needs to get up with a great sense of urgency. Sometimes this will happen multiple times in a single morning, with an increasingly hazy sense of deja vu, where I convince myself that previous incidents must have been a dream.
How it might destroy me: Maddie, understandably, tends to not love it when she’s fully dressed for work and I mumble-scream-slur at her vacant pillow, ‘Maddie, Jesus Christ, you’ve fallen back asleep again, you’re so, so, so late!’ It’s very possible, and perfectly reasonable, that she destroys me.
How to fix it: Christopher Nolan’s Inception, though not really grounded in, like, science, has some interesting ideas. Maybe I can make my alarm a pre-recorded voice message, where I whisper to my semi-dreaming self that Maddie has made it to work on time without incident?
I say goodbye too many times on work phone calls
The Problem: I’m perfectly capable of negotiating the end of a meeting in person: just stand up and leave the room. Simple. For some reason, the act of saying goodbye becomes overwhelmingly complicated for me when it’s online. In that little post-meeting, no-one-has-anything-else-to-say lull I get an inexplicable compulsion to say goodbye ten times in ten slightly different ways. Listening back to a recorded meeting recently, through a chorus of farewells I heard myself say, ‘Goodbye, thanks. Bye. Bye everyone. Okay, talk to you later. Bye. Goodbye.’ That’s simply too many.
How it might destroy me: If some sort of life-threatening crisis were to befall me mid-Zoom, it might take whole entire minutes to interrupt the speaker, say my goodbyes, and seek medical attention ‘Sorry everyone, sorry. I’ve just spontaneously caught fire, I just have to duck out. So, goodbye for now. Thanks everyone, sorry. Bye. Just a bit hot, yeah. Bye then. Speak soon, goodbye.’
How to fix it: Perfect the ‘Irish goodbye’ or ‘smoke bomb,’ which is a tool socially anxious people use to leave parties without saying goodbye to anyone at all.
Delusional belief in own pre-brawl charm
The Flaw: I’ve always thought that if I somehow ended up in a ‘Meet me in the car park’ kind of movie fight scene, and I found myself surrounded by a handful of thuggish toxically masculine men whose character arcs and motivations beyond the desire to beat me up is never really touched on, I just reckon I’d be able to talk my way out of it. This is how. I’d walk slowly into said car park, I’d look the biggest assailant square in the eye, and I’d say, dead calm, with an air of apology, even, ‘I am legally required to inform you that I have attained the highest possible rank of skill and knowledge in the marital art of jiu jitsu. I am not allowed to throw the first punch, because if I use my training outside of self-defence, I could be imprisoned for manslaughter.’ And, leaning in, I’d whisper, ‘Again.’
How it might destroy me: Self-explanatory.
How to fix it: Try to avoid ‘Meet me in the car park’ fight scenes at all costs. This has seemed pretty doable in my life so far.
Anyway that’s all for this egg, goodbye for now. Bye then. Alright, see you later. Bye. Goodbye.