I must have started this letter a hundred different ways in my mind. I’ve read it a hundred times, in vain attempts to shorten it’s length. How do you tell someone they have changed your life? Well, not changed actually; given you your life back. My story is quite long and at times, I'm certain, boring, but this is the only way I can be sure that the folks associated with House MD will ever know what they've done for me. Namely I speak of the creators of the show and Mr. Hugh Laurie. Put your feet up folks, grab something to drink, light 'em up if you smoke, and I'll begin........
It was several years ago, while I was watching a movie starring Leonardo Dicaprio, that my story begins. I was curious, and I enjoyed the movie's plot. But it was one scene that actually started the pendulum swinging for myself, where Leonardo, as King, sentenced his Chief Advisor to be executed for distributing rotten fruits and vegetables to the starving French people. It was the King himself who had given the order for the food to be distributed, so this poor Advisor, standing there, got this look on his face. I'll never forget it. This actor, in the space of a couple of seconds, conveyed such a feeling of "Why me? What did I do?" that I nicknamed it the Hound Dog expression. That forlorn look; those eyes filled with fear and horror tore at my gut. That face was etched into my brain. "That poor bastard” I thought. I watched that movie so many times, and that scene is the one I always look for.
Maybe half a year later, on a Monday night, having the night off from work, I'd settled down to watch some TV. While channel surfing, I came across House MD. "What the hell", I thought, "I've seen the commercials, might as well give it a watch." The episode was 'Here Kitty'. (Thank God for reruns!) The opening scene shows House in the clinic. A close up of his face. I feel my brow furrow. "I know that guy..." but can't remember from where. I watch the episode, thoroughly entranced by this character, (more on that coming up). I'd started recording this episode on my VCR, (yes they're still being used), so that I can go through the credits at the end.
The show finishes, I queue up the tape, and with quite a bit of squinting, due to the very small print, I find out that House is played by Mr. Hugh Laurie. "Who in hell is this guy? Why is he stuck in my head?" I rush to my computer, boot it up, go online and type his name into the Yahoo! Search Engine. Wikipedia is first, so I head into their site, and pull up his filmography. "HOLY **** IT'S THE GUY WITH THE HOUND DOG EXPRESSION!" I run to my dvd collection, grab 'The Man in the Iron Mask', which I've bought since I became enthralled with that face, queue up those credits and confirm it. “Mr. Hugh Laurie,” I thought, "hello. Now, why are you standing out to me?" That moment, something happened. I don't know what, I only know that I HAD to learn more; so I moved on.
An internet search of more background info on Hugh, House MD, cast and characters, writers, producers, etc., and I knew I would be watching every Monday, but that wasn't it. It was something about House, but moreover, something about Hugh. House's sarcastic attitude; that was me. Give the truth brutally, no matter what, that's me most of the time, (even lost jobs because of it). Use of games, pranks, humor, yup, I do so love using "shock" therapy on people to wake them up to reality. Many, not all, but a hell of a lot of his beliefs about people in general are my own. Every time I watched an episode, I saw something of myself in House. It was damned scary, but quite nice too. "If there's someone out there, who can create this character from their imagination, then that means it's actually possible they exist, and if they exist then there are others like myself. I am not the only one. Maybe I'm not as alone as I thought. Maybe I'm not all that different." God, the relief was overwhelming.
Then there came Hugh. As I researched the information available on the web, I became interested in how a person could be such a marvelous actor and I had never heard of him! MY GOD, I thought, WHERE HAVE I BEEN FOR THE LAST TWENTY YEARS! This guy was literally right under my nose and I ... NEVER.... NOTICED!
That's when it hit me; I was right here, living my life the way that everyone believed it should be lived...everyone but myself that is. I was in my forties, working, paying my bills, being sociable whenever it was necessary, but no more than absolutely necessary, denying myself many things that I had wanted since my early childhood. I honestly believed I had what I deserved, and no more. I had cared for my mother during her last 7 years. But hey, who cares, right? I'm doing as society believes I should. I'm following what my parents had raised me to believe. When someone tells me an idea or dream I have is crazy, foolish, just "not right", then it got shoved aside to let the "good little girl" through; the one who does as she's expected. It was like someone sucker punched me in the gut. I was literally gasping for breath. What in God's name had I been doing for my entire life? I had thrown it away because I didn't want to go against what others thought was "acceptable"? Because somehow, sometime, I had not done anything to deserve any more than what I already had.
Changes would be necessary, but first, with my interest piqued in Hugh and House, I wanted to complete my “research”. (Calling it “research” justified my journey to Ebay, purchasing all available seasons on dvd, Hugh’s book “The Gun Seller”, Anthony Bunko’s “Hugh Laurie: The Biography” – unauthorized, (damn), one red mug with the House logo and, of course as I like to keep my hands busy, one oversized red and grey ball with the House logo. You know, someone should really explain to Fox that there are other, much cheaper, shipping methods to Canada besides Expedited Air. $20? For a mug and ball?)
I watched every single episode of House, made certain to watch any new episodes as they were aired, preordered the season 7 dvd set, and when I reached the last episode, I started the process all over again. (I’m currently about to start my 7th viewing.) As time passed, I watched the dvd’s, which led me to the net, to find out anything I could about Hugh Laurie. His passion for music and motorcycles is something I share deeply. And that leads into the next part of this long-winded story.
Music has always been a part of my life. Catholic school choirs, church choirs, a simple instrument, basic theory, and by the age of 8, I was convinced music HAD to be a part of my life. I wanted to learn the piano. A kind teacher taught me what notes were assigned to each key, and that was it. When I approached my parents about learning the piano, (I think I was about 11 or 12.) I was told there was no money. No money for the piano, for the lessons, and with 4 kids in the family, only one income, well it wasn’t a dream that would be realized anytime soon. Instead I settled for the guitar and lessons. At least until my teacher started to behave in a manner that I considered inappropriate. I quit that day. When my parents asked why my sudden change of heart, I lied. (My parents would have told me I imagined it. That my “gut” feeling was foolishness. I would have been reminded of all the money, gas for travelling, and time they had spent, all for nothing. I knew I would have been called a quitter, and I was right. I was. My parents were good people, just not all that knowledgeable with how to talk to kids. My father died when I was 13, and I had high hopes things would be different as mom was our sole parent now. I couldn’t have been more wrong.)
I continued with any type of vocal music I could. It was free and I could hold a tune. In high school, when I found out I could learn an instrument for free, I was thrilled! My school had a piano! But that too was dismissed, by my music teacher that time. He chose what instrument we would be taught to play, based on the formation of our mouths; our embouchure. I now know he was priming his students to form a band to use in competitions and performances. All I wanted was to learn music, and to learn the piano. He placed me as 3rd clarinet. Ok, I learned how to play the clarinet. It carried me through high school, and the piano once again was put on hold. At least I was learning the basics in music theory. In my twenties, I learned how difficult it could be for someone to learn the piano once they become a teenager. To become a pianist who performs, starting at a very early age is a must, or so I was told, and yes I believed. That dream was crushed, never to be thought of again. I was devastated, but hey, still had to go on. So I did.
Motorcycles thrilled me. I started riding a bicycle when I was four and I’ve never been without one. The feel of the air pushing past you, that feeling of being….free…it’s hard to describe. It’s not quite like being “free”, or of “flying”, but more of “free to fly if you choose”. When I discovered what a motorcycle was, somewhere around age 8-10, I was enraptured. WOW! A bicycle with power! And I mean real power. I could be flying. Or maybe not. You see, I was told while growing up that women associated with motorcycles were “skanks” and “sluts”. They were “dirty” and never “nice” girls, like the kind that come from French Catholic homes in Southeast Ontario. This was back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. (Thanks to the societal mores where I live and my mother and father.) Dream…crushed. Once again. At least this time I was young enough to actually transfer my feelings of loss to anger. I reacted by parroting what my parents told me about women who rode motorcycles. If someone would listen, I would tell them how nasty and dangerous motorcycles were. Every accident was proof. As I grew into a young woman, my fascination dimmed. I forgot about my interest, or so I thought. When someone on a motorcycle drove past me, I’d turn around and watch the cyclist drive away. I couldn’t understand why I wanted to watch. After all, cycles are bad. They’re wrong. They’re for people who are not nice. But I still had to watch.
Then came Hugh. The episode “Autopsy” hit me hard. The ending where House chooses to listen, and take, the girl’s advice. “You should go outside for a walk.” It got me thinking, but when I saw “Daddy’s Boy”, that bike, that That 2009 Honda CBR1000rr just stuck in my mind. Curious about the bike, I went back online, and discovered just how passionate about motorcycles Hugh really is. It bothered me. I didn’t understand why someone who loves motorcycles would catch my attention. It’s their choice, right? Ok so motorcycles are bad, or are they? People who drive them are horrible and nasty. But I’ve known people who indulge in this form of transportation and they’re nowhere close to nasty or horrible. Hugh Laurie definitely is not nasty or horrible. This wasn’t making any sense to me. His interest manifested at an early age, and was developed. But why do I care? What meaning does it have for me? (I was using other people’s beliefs as my own.) It would bother me continuously until the summer of 2011.
Now the two dreams combine…….remember all during this time, I’m working two jobs, watching House on dvd’s, checking for any information, current and past, about the show and Hugh.
(Told ya some parts were boring. Don’t say you weren’t warned.)
I was watching the episode “Half Wit”. I watched, mesmerized as Hugh played the piano. The expression on his face. The only way I can describe it is that he was letting his soul escape through his fingers. The music is his soul’s voice. Now why in hell does this one guy’s playing have more meaning to me than anyone else’s? Easy. I just said it. He allowed his soul to speak. That’s how I’ve felt about music my entire life. *snicker* It took about 4 months for me to finally win the argument with myself, but now I have a digital piano, and have been taking lessons since September 2011. (My teacher says I’ve achieved Conservatory Level III already.)
Ah to feel the power, to control the power, to simply go where ever I want and not be closed in. For this one I argued with myself constantly. It’s too much money, too dangerous, impractical. And damn it, I want it, I deserve it. I want to go out into the sunshine, so to speak. I started researching online, found a dealer in my town, and finally purchased a used Honda CBR125cc in November 2011. I call it my Putt-Putt. It’s for learning. (Hey, I’m not an idiot! I’m not going to learn on something that has more power than I can handle!) I have achieved my written M1. The motorcycle knowledge course is coming up on the 18th of April, and my riding lessons are on the 22nd and 29th. I’ll have my full M2 on May 25th. By November, I hope to have a Harley. Me! A Harley owner! HOLY CRAP!
So what else has changed in my life? I’m not Catholic, that’s for sure. I’m not too sure what my beliefs are where God is concerned. I believe, I just don’t “belong” to any religious group. I’m still trying to convince myself that I am deserving of things, but that’s a daily fight. There are still times I still question my existence. There are still times I wonder what I’m doing here; what my beliefs really are. There are still times I think I should take my bike back, that maybe I don’t deserve it, but I won’t. I now feel like I matter; like I’m not the only one with these personality characteristics. There are others, and I will find them. But most of all, I feel as though someone out there has given me permission to live my life as I wish, that fear is nothing more than what others want us to believe.
So to Mr. David Shore I say thank you for creating House; thank you.
To all cast and crew, writers, producers, everyone, thank you for keeping House alive.
And to Mr. Hugh Laurie, thank you for giving me my life back. I will always be grateful.
Miss Barbra Cecile Tessier
Cornwall, Ontario, Canada