Toronto’s mayor arrived back in town this week straight (well, I haven’t seen blood work) from his two-month stay in a rehab facility, and it’s clear we’re looking at a man who has turned around his life 360 degrees.
The press conference and interviews he has given suggest Rob Ford has changed so completely that he has gone back to being exactly (arrogant, self-pitying and entitled) the way he was before. The mayor has returned from whatever dark place he has been, bearing the wisdom of a man who just saw most of Clean and Sober on the plane.
Mr. Ford is spewing the language of addiction and recovery with all the apparent self-awareness and comprehension of someone speaking in tongues. Gone are the days of mere glossing over (“everything is fine”), we’ve hit full glossolalia.
If the source of the mayor’s new vernacular (“personal demons,” “one day at a time,” “my addiction’s really a disease”) is indeed Clean and Sober, that would explain another element of this week’s performance. Perhaps Mr. Ford sees all Michael Keaton vehicles as one monolithic, magnificent contribution to Western Civilization, because he is now speaking as if there is an organization where, after 60 days of sobriety, they make you Batman: Rob Ford is back to save our city – no one else can!
“My public record is better than any mayor’s,” he announced during a news conference in which he switched from Recovery Rob to Dark Knight Ford so abruptly that it was like Toronto’s projectionist had grabbed the wrong reel.
The takeaway from his statement is that Rob Ford went to rehab and learned a lot about himself – mostly that he is awesome. Clearly, he is following a very different program from the one that has genuinely turned around the lives of many of my friends, and so I give you what I imagine to be The Twelve Steps According to Rob Ford, founder of Alcoholics Who, C’mon, Really Like Being Mayor:
1. We admitted we were powerless over people recording us while we are under the influence of alcohol, that our friends’ habit of taping us while we threaten (while slapping our belly) to poke someone’s eyes out and murder him (while we are wearing nothing but underwear), or even taping us while we are just smoking crack had become unmanageable. Then did nothing about it for a year.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity – pretty sure it’s a subway.
3. Made a decision to turn our lives over to the care of public transit, as we understand it – which is very little.
4. Made a searching and fearless but entirely math-less inventory of the billion dollars we have saved taxpayers. Talked about it incessantly – sometimes in the hilarious accents of people we are paid to represent.
5. Admitted to God and another human being and to ourselves the exact nature of our wrongs – but, for the last time, our lawyer has advised us not to talk to the police.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove anything that prevents us from hanging out in the Air Canada Centre directors’ lounge, because it’s really cool.
7. Humbly ... oh, who are we kidding?
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them – but page was entirely blank, so wrote out all the Eagles lyrics we could remember instead, which was not easy. Took the day off. Tried to get that tape back again.
9. Made direct amends – some kind of cookie, I think. Gave none to journalists, who are maggots.
10. Continued to take a personal inventory – of our stash.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God ... on a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air.
12. Finally, having heard others talk about having a spiritual awakening, we exploited the notion that we are ill without shame. We did it in a way that trivialized the very notion of recovery. We used our addiction to get a lot of sympathy, uncritical attention and as a permanent shield. We used the word “changed” a lot – and then didn’t.