On the Grinch

Many years later, while drinking coffee with me in Starbucks, Max sleeping quietly at our feet, the Grinch told me of the day that his heart grew bigger by five sizes. He liked having a name like Cher or Madonna, but it was hard as a youngster because he scared everyone. Though he smiles a lot now, back in the day when he stilled lived in his cave, he suffered from depression and was a prisoner to much darker thoughts than he cared to discuss. Living alone, he said, was a terrible thing and no one should live in complete isolation, especially during the holidays when his solitary ways seemed so much more bitter and lonely than they did the rest of the year. He and Max moved into Whoville that year, after the “incident,” and he took a job fixing musical instruments. After his story broke, though, and the television show came out, he only did the job so he could interact with others. Secretly, he was thrilled that Boris Karloff did his voice. What the cartoon did not really go into was the depth of his depression, the breadth of his isolation, or the blackness of his despair. Up to that point Christmas and its joy had been torture. In those bad old days, he had wept openly in bitter despair upon hearing the music come up the valley to his cave. He was supposed to be happy, but he wasn’t, and he couldn’t figure out why. He sipped his triple-caramel large macchiato (with a triple shot of espresso) and got whipped cream on his lip. He laughed and smiled. Max stirred under the table. He told me about his therapy, his anti-social behavior, and his eventual road to recovery–Dr. Geisel is a genius, he said. His book about depression, and the black hole of despair to which it drove him, will be out in the spring. He is the current mayor of Whoville and hasn’t been back to the cave in years.