Beyoncé works hers to death. Dr. Jekyll hid his for good reasons and I’ve finally decided to embrace mine and show her some love. I’m talking about the alter ego, better known as “the other I” or the “second self.” Whatever you want to call it, the alter ego is capable of taking you to the highest of heights or the lowest of lows. Beyoncé’ alter, Sasha Fierce, is just that a fierce, confident, sexy powder keg of energy that explodes in every performance. On the other hand Dr. Jekyll’s alter Mr. Hyde was a cruel violent fool who stalked the streets of London at night. Well if I am to be completely honest I must say, my ‘second self’ falls somewhere between Sasha Fierce and Mr. Hyde (though I have not stalked the streets of London–yet.) Her name is “Wee Ree” and apparently she has pranced around my psyche for some time causing me to do and say things that, when retold to me by others, have left me utterly stunned.
I’m not sure if it’s my small stature or something I inherited from generations of determined and industrious ancestors who had to overcome adversity to survive but I do have a bit of an aggressive nature. Okay maybe it’s more than a bit, at times it can be a ‘lotta bit,’ and after giving it much thought I now realize that 99% of that aggression actually belongs to “Wee Ree.” As you can tell by her name she is small but feisty. I have to give my husband credit for finally naming her. After listening to one of my many rants about some social injustice or another he stared at me for a few moments and said, “I will call you Wee Ree.” I shot him a questioning look and he went on to explain that in another life “Wee Ree” was on the way to the top of her game in Vaudeville. She was a tap dancing queen. But her rising star came crashing down after someone criticized her performance. Wee Ree lost her ever loving mind and spewed a wicked string of insults and expletives that left many scarred for life. She not only lost her job, but her temper kept her from ever being a serious contender in show business again. Yes, I know, Wee Ree has serious anger management issues. So of course I failed to see the connection between the two of us. I mean I can’t even tap dance!
But when I looked back I realized there had been times when Wee Ree had taken over and ran “my” mouth leaving a wake of destruction. Like the time when I worked as a reporter at WHBQ TV in Memphis. The General Manager called a staff meeting and asked us to share our opinions and concerns about how the news department was being run. Well at that time in my life (mid 20’s) I definitely had not mastered the art of tact and diplomacy and doing so had certainly never been on Wee Ree’s “to do list.” So when it was my turn to speak I was stunned to hear myself unloading with both barrels about all of the problems in our department and how the GM himself was not living up to the promises he’d made. Now I know Wee Ree was doing all of the talking. But at that time I wasn’t sure what had gotten into me or how to stop it. Once she started I just couldn’t shut her up. I noticed the GM getting hot under the collar but Wee Ree didn’t. She kept right on tossing one critical bomb after another. When it was over Wee Ree was satisfied. I, on the other hand, was mortified and with good reason. A few weeks later there was a huge round of layoffs and yours truly was one of the first to get a pink slip. Wee Ree just rolled her eyes, turned up her lips and acted like nothing had ever happened. She was ready to move on to her next adventure while I was worried about finding a new job.
Wee Ree is also extremely competitive. My husband and I love to play racquetball and the games get very intense with a lot of trash talking flying back and forth. During one particular match we had a volley that went on for at least two minutes or so. It was a heated battle. The match was on the line. I was determined not to lose. We battled back and forth each hitting one incredible shot after another. Then my husband fired a sweet, low shot. The ball was barely an inch off the floor. I dove but missed it! I had lost! Instantly I could feel the anger swell inside of me. Wee Ree was putting Vaseline on her face and taking off her earrings. My husband immediately began trash talking and taunting me mercilessly. Then he did it. He made the mistake of turning his back to me and walking away. Wee Ree pounced! Before I knew what was happening she ran up and slammed the racquet into his back and then, just like that, the heifer vanished. My husband winced and froze in pain and disbelief. I dropped the racquet and covered my mouth. I was wide eyed with shock and shame. “You hit me!” He slowly turned and shook his head. “I can’t believe you just hit me in anger.” All I could do was apologize over and over begging for his forgiveness. Wee Ree didn’t give it a second thought.
On the other hand having a second self isn’t all bad. While Wee Ree has put me in more than a few dicey situations, she has also gotten me out of a few. When I began my very first reporting job at WLNS TV in Lansing, Michigan my very first assignment was a live shot. I’d worked in radio but had never actually done a live shot on television. Though I did my best to remain calm I was terrified that I’d make a fool of myself and the news director would decide he’d made a mistake and fire me. But as my photographer counted me down to the live shot my “gurl” Wee Ree showed up and reminded me that I was more than equipped to do my job and do it well. She calmed my nerves, took the quiver out of my voice and kept me completely focused. My first television live shot was smooth, polished and informative which gave me creditability among my new colleagues and brought much praise from my boss.
More like Sasha Fierce and less like Mr. Hyde, Wee Ree is definitely a plus in my life. She’s given me the strength to get out of toxic relationships—in fact she’s up and ended them herself and demanded my compliance. When I’m down she gives me the strength to take another step and reminds me that having faith and working hard, not whining and complaining, is the only way to achieve my goals. More importantly Wee Ree has made me ‘okay’ with being me—loud, off-beat, opinionated but lots of fun (if I don’t say so myself.) Through the years she and I have gotten better in the “tact and diplomacy” department. But Wee Ree is always on deck ready to “keep it raw and real” whenever necessary. Luv ya gurl! So I encourage you to go on and embrace your ‘second self’ and enjoy the ride!