The Bar Belle

United States of Sara(h)

Apr 22, 2009 at 5:00 am

When I first sat down to watch Showtime’s newest series “United States of Tara,” I was expecting a bizarre, realistic, humorous take on someone living with multiple personality disorder. Starring Toni Collette (“Muriel’s Wedding”) and created by Diablo Cody (“Juno”), I knew it would be a great show. I just didn’t realize I would find a few things in common with Tara. Once again I have diagnosed myself via television: I have multiple personality disorder, and it all makes sense now.

Lucky for me, I don’t have it as bad or as often as Tara — she has three to four revolving personalities who come in and out of her consciousness. I just have one. And while hers surface when she’s stressed, mine comes out when I’ve had too much to drink. Thinking back on it, I believe my “alter” first emerged in college. I would wake to pockets and purses full of bar glassware, soap dispensers, playing cards, salt and pepper shakers, tambourines … and a stuffed beaver wearing ice skates. I never felt good about my new acquisitions and never understood what compelled me to pirate them from frat houses.

Soon after college, I moved to Louisville and met people who actually paid attention to my whereabouts and behavior while we were out. That’s when I was formally introduced to “Sara With An H.” Apparently she’s not the friendliest person around — only days after meeting my friend and co-worker Buddy, she left a five-minute-long string of curse words on his voicemail. He came in the following Monday slightly upset and confused. “Are you mad at me?” he asked. “Um, no, why would you think that?” I asked. And then I heard the message. It sure sounded like my voice, albeit slurred, but I didn’t remember when or why I said it. Which, it turns out, is another symptom of MPD (or dissociative identity disorder, as they’re calling it these days).

When Tara transitions into Buck, Alice or T, she leaves all self-awareness behind. She doesn’t have control over nor does she remember anything they do or say. It’s the same for me when Sarah comes out — apparently I go far, far away, and any amount of Midwestern politeness and Catholic guilt (although I’m not Catholic, somehow I have it, also self-diagnosed) goes right out the window. There’s no such thing as a blackout — I’m just transitioning.

Although she can be a tad bit crass and blunt, Sarah certainly means well. Why else would she send drunken texts to exes asking them to come over RIGHT NOW? Surely she just wants to repair a broken friendship, don’t you think? And my friends have embraced Sarah with open arms, mainly because Sarah will gladly tell any secrets Sara may be harboring. If my friends want to know where I’ve been hiding out for the last two weeks, they wait patiently as I imbibe. They know that before too long, Sarah will be out to tell any and all of the most inappropriate details of my personal life. And she’ll tell you that your shirt is too tight, your boyfriend is gay and it’s your turn to buy the next round, bitch.

I definitely think Sarah has good intentions, but she does tend to screw things up socially for me. Drunken and indecipherable text messages, voicemails (her favorite), ransacking karaoke stages … and now she has a penchant for social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. (Thankfully she hasn’t figured out how to Twitter.) It’s not a pleasant morning to wake and see you’ve Facebook-serenaded old high school friends, college professors and your boss with “get it right, get it tight, dix!”

So what now? I suppose having Sarah do my social bidding isn’t the best thing for me. I’ve actually been really good at locking up my computer and phone to prevent late-night demands. And perhaps I should lay off the hard liquor, which tends to bring her out quicker. But it is Derbytime — and bourbon is delicious. Perhaps I should just issue a warning: If you find yourself in a dark bar with Sarah after midnight, don’t give her your number, don’t tell her secrets and don’t expect her to remember you. She can sense fear. Approach with caution.


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