Paul Andrews, from Between the Sheets, has always been a confusing character for me. in discussions about him, I defended him. not that he wasn’t guilty of the crime he committed but more that he had reasons for acting the way that he did; his actions were understandable to me. I wasn’t condoning his behavior necessarily, but I was acknowledging that it could be reality, not just drama for drama’s sake. what I couldn’t seem to do was say, straight up, that what Paul did was creepy and wrong. I always ended up delving into the whys and hows instead. it was those Puppy Dog Eyes! they are my Kryptonite.
I’ve avoided writing about Paul in my then & now look back at the RA characters, putting it off and then putting it off again. I wanted to be honest about my views, what they were compared to what they are now, how they’ve changed (if at all), but that would entail really sitting down and looking at my reactions. and I wasn’t sure what I would discover about myself if I did.
When I first encountered Paul, it was through one of the fan made compilations that only showed his part of the story. I knew it was giving me a one dimensional view of things by not showing other points of view but as far as Paul himself was concerned, I thought it was enough to get a solid understanding of him. I know where my mind was when I thought that and I could argue for that stance still but my feelings about that, overall, have changed. it would be like basing my opinion of someone’s character only on my own interactions with them, completely disregarding how I see them interact with others and how others react to them. if I just don’t want to get too highly involved with someone, to only take them at face value, that’s all well and good but I have to admit that to myself and own it. I wasn’t doing that with Paul.
Initially I thought that Paul did fool around with Tracy in a sexual manner, I just wasn’t sure to what extent. in the grand scheme of things “how much” didn’t matter, what matters is that he did and he shouldn’t have. not only because she was underage, a troubled youth who he was supposed to be helping and guiding as her Social Worker, but also because he was in a long term committed relationship with Alona. I knew all of that and I said as much but I wasn’t really standing behind it. I tried to put myself in Alona’s shoes but she, like me, didn’t really know what she was feeling or why, so I put myself in Paul’s shoes instead. if I couldn’t figure out how I was feeling about him, I could at least try to see things through his eyes. but he kept tripping me up! it was like watching one of those ‘dumbest criminals’ shows; if you’re going to be nefarious, don’t do it half-assed. add to this the fact that I was attracted to him (duh. he looks just like Richard) and I was all kinds of conflicted. so I let myself be pulled along by him, intuition be damned.
I felt that Paul was feeling neglected, that Alona was in denial about her control issues, and that giving in to Tracy’s advances not only made Paul feel desirable and needed but also in control. I still feel all of that, but in watching the whole program (more than once- denial is a stubborn thing) additional aspects became more clear. Tracy’s advances did make Paul feel desirable and in control, because she was broken and she needed him. just like Alona was broken when they first met and she needed him. they needed him for different reasons but they were both damsels in distress that weren’t in their own mind at the time. Alona eventually moved away from that needy persona into a similar one when she decided to have a child with Paul. I’m not sure how involved Paul was as a father but I suspect Alona needed the family man when their child was small. flash forward 6 or 7 years (I’m not sure how old their daughter was supposed to be) with a slightly older child and an extra pair of hands (the nanny) plus an angsty teenage boy who was testing his boundaries, and Alona had traded in need for control. something I understood all too well and did not want to face by seeing myself in Alona. I didn’t want to sympathize with Alona, I wanted to comfort Paul and keep him for myself.
once I admitted that I wanted to keep Paul for myself (it was hard, believe me), all Paul’s attempts at manipulation by turning the arguments back around on Alona, became strikingly apparent. I’m more than a little familiar with that conflict resolution tactic because it seemed to be my mother and father’s favorite way to deal with each other when I was growing up. Oh, hold the phone! Alona and Paul represent my parents…
So, in summary: I wanted Paul to be a better man than he was. I wanted Alona to see Paul as a man and not a boy. I tried to control the story and make it do what I wanted.