Edgar Allen Poe termed it The Imp of the Perverse. Billy Joel sang about the Faces of the Stranger. Some call it conscience. Others say it's listening to your better angels. To me, the eternal internal dialogue I have is with my evil twin, skippy.
Make no mistake: We all have an evil twin--a creature who appears when the paper thin veneer of civility and courtesy is removed (for whatever reason) and who, with a genius for self-destruction that can be breath-taking, attempts single handedly to 'square away' everyone and everything on this planet that is confused or abused. At times, I have watched myself go off, as skippy, on some hapless fellow traveler on Spaceship Earth for all manner of sins, real and imagined, as if I were watching someone else on another planet. Because in a sense I am. Perhaps true for you too, skippy is a creation I cannot help but admire but also fear. I am he, as you are he; as you are me and we are all together.
Sometimes, skippy brings up good points-but not often enough to ever let me get comfortable with him. This morning skippy gave me a rough time for keeping the change on a drive thru breakfast run on the way to work-like it would've killed me to let the window person have the coins. Well, I countered, I didn't ask or make them take a job there and what they earn is between them and their boss. I'm not sure skippy accepted that argument but I silenced him for at least as long as it took to eat the sandwich and drink the coffee.
The older I've gotten (and sometimes I feel I've aged three times for every year) the harder keeping a handle on him has become. Last spring, as the dynamics in Norwich changed so much that the City Council and the Mayor jettisoned the City Manager, it was skippy (I was along for the ride and that was all) who created the screen personae of two of my childhood cartoon favorites, crusader rabbit and rags, on a readers' forum of a local newspaper and, in a moment of manic malevolence, chose as his avatar a character from South Park, the little guy whose demise always sparks a cry of 'Oh my god, they killed Kenny!'
Actually they didn't and from all of that, all of this has evolved. Not sure if it's what might be called a Pilgrim's Progress, though I'm as fond of John Wayne as the next person (maybe fonder, or is that Fonda? And Peter or Henry, or for that matter, Jane?) And speaking of Jane, would that be Tarzan's? Or Austen? Or the Velvets' Sweet? And in light of my earlier contention that each of us has an evil twin skippy, just how many of them can dance on the head of a pin and/or be considered a pinhead unto themselves. It can be a challenge being a walking punchline. Don't even ask about chewing gum.