The truth is “out there” as much as it is within, and here’s mine: I let Fox Mulder into my heart in 1992, and I don’t know how to get him out.
Mulder Is the Man Inside Me
The moment I realized that Mulder, everybody’s favorite quirky FBI agent, was still, to this day, all up in my psyche, I happened to be on a pretty great first date. As my date and I talked about relationship histories after a few glasses of wine, a truly unexpected sentence tumbled out of my mouth: “Fox Mulder is my animus.”
My date looked at me like I was a conspiracy theorist, but I knew I had to investigate: The X-Files had long since gone off-air. For the uninitiated, the psychotherapist Jung defined the animus as the erotic “other” in our unconscious—so my animus is the man inside my psyche that I want to have sex with and/or become.
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Of course I know I’m just another in his legions of fans, but that never stopped me from fantasizing about the deep, all-night-long conversations I’d have with Mulder on his couch (because he didn’t have a bed until season six.) I would love him despite his secret porn-watching habits. I would save him from The Smoking Man.
I did a full-on X-Files binge this weekend, just to see if I’d lost that loving feeling in the more than 20 years that have passed since the show’s debut. Nope. Early Mulder, mid-Mulder and late-stage Mulder continue to have the same effect—I become a knock-kneed, weepy fan girl jealous of—yet somehow happy for—Scully. Thank you for the insight, Netflix.
He’s Perfect in Every Role
To deepen this self-inquiry and tease apart my affections for the character versus the actor, I also read David Duchovny’s new novel, Holy Cow. It’s about a talking cow named Elsie Bovary (LOL) who flees to India to save herself from certain death. She travels with a pig that aims to survive slaughter by taking refuge in Israel (getting circumcised on the way). Their number three is a turkey with an iPhone who believes only emigrating to Turkey will keep him from a dark Thanksgiving fate.
It’s a damn fine allegory about intolerance, loss of innocence, and mortality (and DD loves him some puns). The book is at once a tear-jerking critique of factory farming and a madcap adventure sprinkled with loads of Yiddish. What more does a nice Jewish vegetarian girl need?
As for Hank Moody, DD’s recent and more infamous character, I found him sexy, charming, hilarious, and wounded in just the way I tend to like my men wounded. I was ready to save him from season one, despite the protestations of my inner feminist. Mulder, however, remained my truer love.
I Finally Meet David Duchovny
A few years ago, a real-life encounter with the man who plays both Mulder and Moody turned me into a quivering pile of Jell-O. I usually abide by the unwritten law that says all residents of New York City will treat celebrities like regular humans. But DD was shooting a scene for Californication around the corner from my Greenwich Village apartment, so I couldn’t skip it. By the time I arrived, 75 other fans had lined the narrow sidewalk on Jones Street. And there he was, 20 feet away, a still studly 50-plus man in his leather jacket and jeans. I made fast friends with another woman in the crowd as we breathlessly gushed about all things DD.
“You know,” my new friend told me, “he keeps looking over here.” This sounded about as plausible as a shadowy government conspiracy to breed human/alien hybrids, but she was right. He was looking at us. My new friend insisted he was looking at me and I insisted that he was looking at her, but before I could recover from his glances, DD began walking toward us, stopping directly in front me. I instantly lost the ability to speak. An uncomfortable silence went on for nearly 30 seconds until he said, “Isn’t anyone going to say anything?” Then the crowd crushed in.
© Stefanie Weiss
I watched as fan after fan posed for photos, chatting him up like he was just a regular guy. My friend casually got a picture, displaying a bravery I envied. DD, God bless him, even looked at me a few times as if to say: Don’t you want your turn, young lady?
Confronted with my long-term crush, I was the paralyzed Queen of the Nerds. My new friend insisted that I return the next day to get a photo with him. I did, but it was painful and embarrassing. I was trembling the whole time I posed beside him.
Every Man I Meet Is Mulder
I have fallen in love with more than one troubled genius whose mix of vulnerability and charm was an irresistible elixir. Mulder archetypes in the flesh, they tended to take up all the air in the room, sometimes preventing me from pursuing my own creative work. As I get older, this happens less and less, but I’m still hacking away at the complex.
Maybe this is all because my insane geek of a high school boyfriend first turned me on to The X-Files, and I’ve been imprinted, much like abductees are marked by aliens. Raised by TV in the ’80s and ’90s, it’s not terribly shocking that I’d conflate my deepest erotic longings with a small-screen character. Or, if I’m going to stick with the animus thing—maybe it’s just because there is a troubled genius trapped inside of me.
If Mulder wants to stop by and help me crack the case, my basement office remains open.