Søren Aabye Kierkegaard [May 5, 1813 – November 11, 1855] was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He has a famous quote about denial that seems to set the stage for where I’m going, “There are two ways to be fooled- one is to believe what isn’t true, and the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” This past Thursday there was a story written in the Santa Cruz Sentinel titled “Silicon Valley buzz breeds new kind of drug abuses.” This was a major angle piece coming off the death of a local Google executive, Forrest Hayes, age 51 from an apparent overdose of heroine aboard his yacht in November 2013. This story broke nationally about a month ago with the arrest of a sex industry worker, Alix Tichelman, age 26 of Folsom CA. She was seen on a security video tampering with evidence in an attempt to hide her involvement in Mr. Hayes’s death. Shortly after his death this same newspaper printed a well scripted obituary calling his death untimely and lauding over his accomplishments, his wife and his five children. It was a touching tribute at the time and it was a lie. His “day job” was so easy to articulate and the truth was at the time easy to hide.
The arrest of Ms. Tichelman made the headlines because sex and drugs sells newspapers. I get it. Yet this latest article solely focusing on heroin use in Silicon Valley, though well reported and spot on, totally missed the mark on the story behind the story of the death of the Google executive. He was a sex addict long before he ever came in contact with this “lady of the night” or dope. I’d be willing to bet the farm that if his computers were scrubbed one would find a cache of porn, hook up sites and escort services. This was not Mr. Hayes’s first rodeo. With men of this ilk there is always a paper or electronic trail connected to business trips, conventions and working weekends. His lifeless body was the smoking gun but there is a greater story here. Men in power, with money and a sense of entitlement, often are also adrenalin junkies long before they ever stick a syringe in their arms. He was sex seeking more than he was drug seeking.
As Saul Bellow (June 10 1915 – April 5, 2005) a Canadian-born American writer once penned: “a great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.” In the November 2013 obit a co-worker remarked how devoted he was to his wife and his five children. As the sordid facts of his “night job” emerge, the contrast between his personal light and dark become blinding. I have so much compassion for his wife, left with a stain that can’t be removed, and for his children, left with the sins of the father.
Like President Clinton and Tiger Woods, just to mention a few fallen public figure men, their legacies are forever tainted by semen on a blue dress and an SUV hitting a fire hydrant. Although I never did meet Mr. Hayes, I have met men like him many times. The work hard –play hard mentality clouds their judgment as they become emotionally disconnected from themselves and everyone close to them, caught up in the web they covet and create. They are not victims nor evil, they are good men with a bad dis/ease and as always, hurt people hurt people. Their loved ones sadly become just collateral damage in their out of control pursuit of more. And yes they are culpable for their behavior. I make up that if Mr. Hayes had lived he would point to the dope as to what went wrong. Denial’s a bitch! I had such a man in my office once who had just gotten caught by his wife through a trail of deceit found on his computer and to this situation he said matter-of-factly that his only mistake was that he should have gotten a second browser!
I wish the newspaper would have called it what it was. The death certificate will read as the cause of death: accidental drug overdose but the real cause of death was sex addiction. Now there’s a headline that would sell papers and actually might help someone else in the process. Just as much as the drug trade is alive and well in Silicon Valley so is the sex industry. How about that as a new angle.
If you relate to this story please don’t wait for the shoe to drop, this is treatable and misery is optional. Hindsight is 20/20.