Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wicked Game

Updated: 2-10-07**

Strange what desire will make foolish people do

What a wicked game you play
To make me feel this way
What a wicked thing to do
To let me dream of you

"Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak

You know I can't let this story go without saying a few things about it. Certainly by now everyone has heard about the astronaut, Lisa Nowak, who drove 900 miles in a diaper to attempt to kidnap, and possibly murder, a perceived romantic rival, Colleen Shipman, for the affections of another married astronaut, William Oefelein. What would possess a highly intelligent, accomplished woman to do such a crazy thing?

Well, aside from the usual speculations about the emotional instabilities of women, as my husband likes to promote ;-)*, I think we should look at this situation from a wider perspective. What is so f*cking special about this Oefelein guy that would motivate a woman to throw her entire life away on his behalf? I don't think I'll pursue that line of thought, but feel free if you'd like to add to that subject.

I have to wonder what exactly his relationship was with Nowak. Was he playing some kind of wicked game with her (and Shipman?) and encouraging her romantic feelings while never really intending to have a real relationship? Was he just feeding his ego by playing with the emotions of these two women? Was he just an "innocent" recipient of unbidden affections from Nowak and/or Shipman? I don't think that these are irrelevant questions because we all have to have some responsibility for our interactions with others and the potential consequences of those interactions.

I'm very interested to hear the sides of the story from Shipman and Oefelein. It has been reported that Shipman claims that she had been stalked by Nowak. There is surely more to that story. However, since Oefelein is married, but to neither Shipman nor Nowak, there is yet another side of this story: Oefelein's wife's perspective. I'd be really pissed and disappointed for the whole world to learn that my husband was playing a wicked game with two other women. And of course, there's the sad situation for Nowak's children.

Certainly, there is much more to learn about the motivations and background of this story. But perhaps it is a vivid and intense reminder that human hearts (and minds) are very tender and that playing wicked games with them can only end in tragedy.

* We were talking/joking about this story this morning and I told him that I sure hoped he didn't have some girlfriend that was going to try to kidnap/kill me. Then he said it was the "old" ones who went nuts like that, but I reminded him of that crazy teenager Amy Fisher who shot her much older boyfriend's wife in the head. So age has nothing to do with it. Obviously age, education, success, renown, or any other thing has nothing to do with it. He still says that it's just women and their instability. Well, I still say that it's men and their stupidity that leads to women's instability. ;-)

** A new article discussing more details from the family perspectives reveals that Oefelein has been separated from his wife for a while. But it does not clearly specify his actual relationships with either Nowak or Shipman. I still think that if he was playing both of them in a "wicked game" of insincere encouragement that he has at least some psychological responsibility for what happened.


The Guy said...

Hi Rae,
This is a story I've been avoiding confronting because of my love of space travel, I hate to see it sullied by any sort of misconduct. But since it's bugging you too I'll take a stab at commenting on it.

First off, there's obviously nothing special about Oefelein, other than the spelling of his last name. Take it from a good fella who has never been able to land a lucky lady, there's no accounting for taste.

Second off, let me say that there might well be an organic/biological problem with this Nowak woman. I know of several incidences where a person has undergone sudden personality changes after a blow to the head so it strikes me that our mentality is perhaps one of humanities greatest fragilities.

Barring physical illness; regardless of any behavior by Oefelein vis-a-vis playing games or innocent ignorance in connection to Nowak, she had to be responsible for her own actions. Choice, her own choice, is what drove her to undertake these actions. It is the power of choice acting on the impulses of her emotions that made her do what she did, plan what she planned. And therein lies the warning for us all. It is one thing to feel, to perceive and to think. Another altogether to choose.

I know that isn't very helpful thinking but it's all I can come up with. As an alternative let me wish you and all your readers a super lovely day.

dhammett said...

It just goes to show that our "best and brightest," the ones with the "right stuff," are human and subject to the same foibles as the rest of us. As for guys' stupidity leading to women's instability, there's a reason guys are stupid...women make 'em that way. :-)

*wipes drool from keyboard*

Nir Shaviv said...

What people don't understand is that no guy, and no girl are worth ruining your life this way, and as an intelligent person, Nowak should have known that.

It just shows us that our basic animal instincts, and in particular the drive (yes, pun intended) to copulate with the right person is deeply engraved. Of course, this is not strange considering that all Homo Sapiens who lost this drive, became extinct ;-)

Rae Ann said...

Hi Guy, you are absolutely right that ultimately we all are most responsible for our own choices of action. Maybe Nowak is having severe hormonal problems due to menopause or something? I know sometimes I get a little crazy, but so far not crazy enough to completely lose all rationality. Thanks for your thoughts on this, and you know, I think you'd be a great catch for any smart lady!

dh, yes, you're right too! You're definitely one of the most highly evolved men I know of. ;-) But I wonder, does the law of entropy mean that we all are getting dumber? ;-)

Hi Nir, very good (and funny)! Welcome and thanks for your comment! We have these wonderful, highly evolved minds that still live in these rather animalistic bodies. Not that I'm complaining, though. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi..I just found your blog..but I am really happy u r questioning Oefelein's role in this situation. Obviously Nowak went off the deep-end but what role did Oefelein play in fanning the fire! I think he probably encouraged her, who knows what he said to her..I am sure her attachment to him grew because to her he was a unique individual. Quite frankly Rae-Ann there r so many boring men out here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And overall, NASA, the corporate is a guy who flew to space and back, So did she. When people say the old expression, it takes only one...well there aren' t whole lot of men out there who have gone to space. And they probably worked very closely together. And they both r probably adrenalin junkies, they both were test piulots originally.So I am mad at him for leading her on and encouraging things! He probably hoped to have a situation in Houston with her and this woman Shipman in Florida. And I agree when it boils down to it, Nowak will realize Oefelein was not worth all this and that other than space he is not that special. But when u work in such close quarters, the space business is your life I am sure it is very hard to keep perspective. And when it boils down to it, as much as Nowak had to compartmentalize things like a man to be able to excel in her job she still was a woman and woman are emotional beings. SO thanks for bringing the Oefelein thing up . I hope it comes out because Nowak might have acted out but he obviously encouraged her affections or she would not have "fallen" for him the way she did. And I am sure he will act like there was nothing there and it is all in her head!! She will eventually see the light and get perspective. But I believe he actually should take more blame than her. He was ultimately the one that set her off and u can't tell me he didn't realize what was going on. So he should have wound things down along time before things got to this point.

Rae Ann said...

Hi anonymous,

thanks for your comment. I know this is a complex situation and that ultimately Nowak has to take responsibility for her actions, but we must also remember that, as you also pointed out, Oefelein is probably not just an "innocent" bystander. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. I tend to agree with you that it would take more than just an "only-in-her-head" relationship to make her to do something so drastic. However, we do hear about celebrity stalkers who go to extremes in absence of a real relationship with their targets. But those stalkers generally aren't in the same category of people as a NASA astronaut! And we don't know that this Shipman woman wasn't goading things along too. I'll be very interested to hear all sides of this story.