One of my favorite characters across all of literature is Severus Snape from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
So many Potter fans are right now asking what the holy fuck?
I know. I even feel a little bit guilty for admitting it. Almost naughty. And not in the way that somehow means your opinion on the topic matters to me. It does not. It is more of a sinister, wicked delight that makes me giggle drolly to myself that it might bother or irritate you. There is something milk chocolatey delicious in that.
Buckle up, bitches. I am in the driver’s seat. Or step out of this flying Ford Anglia now before a Whomping Willow of alternative character study crushes your brain.
For those of you who live under a rock or have chosen to censor Harry Potter books because it has turned us all into violent, malevolent witches, here is a quick snapshot of Severus Snape.
A Potions Master and temporary Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Severus Snape is a cruel, snarky, arrogant dick. His contempt for everyone is evident, but particularly for Harry Potter. Harry is an ever-present reminder of Lily Potter, Harry’s mother, who Snape loved deeply as a teen. Ironically, Snape revealed the prophecy to Voldemort of a July-born child whose birth would lead to his destruction. The Dark Lord assumed it was Harry Potter. He killed both Lily and James Potter to destroy the divination, setting Harry’s story in motion as the boy who lived. Wracked with guilt, this explains so much about Snape’s bitterness toward Harry.
Many complex ironies exist with Snape’s character:
- Snape is cold and calculating, but his capacity for a soul-aching love when it comes to Lily Potter is genuine. I also believe his friendship with Dumbledore was based on love and loyalty, far more than just respect.
- Snape is a bitter bully, but he was also bullied horribly by James Potter and Sirius Black when he attended Hogwarts. Harry’s character grows when his idols – father and uncle – have their flaws revealed, arrogant teens themselves, breaking their angelic Gryffindor image. *gasp*
- A prominent Slytherin, aligned with the pro-Pure Blood movement, Snape should detest any non-pure magical being. But he is in fact a half-blood, born to a Muggle father, leading to the moniker Half-Blood Prince, honoring his witch mother’s maiden name. Harry idolized the mysterious Half-blood Prince until he discovered it was Snape.
- Snape served the Dark Lord as a Death Eater, then later joined the Order of the Phoenix, serving Dumbledore as a secret agent. The Snape in the first half of the Potter-series is truly an asshole, or at least seemingly to Harry before he knew of Snape’s dual agency; but the richness of his character is truly revelatory in the back half of the series.
- Snape must kill his bestie Dumbledore because he was coerced into making the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy to kill Dumbledore himself if Draco could not handle this assignment from Voldemort. When Snape tells Dumbledore, Dumbledore insists Snape kill him to maintain the illusion of Snape’s continued Death Eater loyalty.
- Voldemort believes the turncoat Snape was the master of the Elder Wand (a Deathly Hallow), which leads to Snape’s death at Voldemort’s hands/snake’s fangs. In many ways, the other Death Eaters acknowledged that Snape was powerful but with questionable allegiances, representing a threat to their evil plans of genocide and world domination.
There is no doubt that Snape is oily and selfish. He is both good and evil. He is a small man who wields power like a boss. Fear, jealousy, and loss govern his every move.
But I have my own theory about Snape: he was in the early stages of Manopause. As am I.
Women steal a lot of the limelight from men in their later adult years with menopause. All the glory and celebration and kibitzing. Vast social networks of women share this common experience with each other, offering support, and a gentle listening ear to each other’s relentless bitching and moaning.
Yet little discussion occurs about how men suffer with a comparable Manopause. Expected to “nut up,” men endure in silence. When a man complains, he is weak. And gods forbid we try to share how we feel with each other! Pop another Viagra, limp dick, and everything is okay.
Fulfilling my role as an innovator and groundbreaker, I will share my symptoms and experience with you in the hopes that you can find some damn empathy for men in their fifties. Maybe men can learn to drop the macho bullshit and give each other a massive, empathetic hug. And maybe save a kind word for Severus Snape.
- Loud noises. I am not sure if this is related to Manopause or not, or if this is some undiagnosed form of PTSD. What I do know is that my tolerance for loud, startling noises has found its nadir since I entered my fifties. I am a musician (a drummer for Chrissake!), and I am intolerant of loud music (especially in the car). It makes me angry. Literally. Loud noises at home? Oh hell no. My incredibly tolerant, patient wife is probably laughing right now recalling the times I scream, “What the fuck is that!?” if a pan falls in the cupboard or the dog barks suddenly. My flare for the dramatic might differ from Snape, who was a pretty chill cat, but I can picture him snapping his finger and glaring at Harry for making a loud noise.
- Profuse Sweating. As mentioned in Are You There God? It’s me, Patrick, I am sweaty all the time. Like back-of-the-knees, soaked-through-my-jeans sweaty. People are starting to ask questions. Traveling with a friend for work on a frosty North Carolina morning, I left a full sweat ass print through a thick pair of blue jeans on the leather seat of his rental car as we arrived at the office. It was cold. There was black ice. The look on his face was of utter horror and disgust. Snape had clearly pasty skin that had a nasty sheen to it, unmasking his perspiratory proclivity. I am guessing under those heavy-ass wizard robes was a smelly, salty sea of damp nether regions.
- Aches and pains. Jesus, seriously. Most of my life has been pain-free. I played rugby for years. But since turning forty-five and now after fifty, what the fuck doesn’t hurt on a given day? Get out of bed – shoulder pains. Shovel the driveway – back pain. Sit immobile for too long – headache. Total bullshit. Up yours, Manopause. I devolve into Roseanne Roseannadanna from early Saturday Night Live days, “Well it just goes to show you, it’s always something, you either got a toenail in your hamburger or toilet paper clinging on your shoe.” Alan Rickman, rest his soul, sported a sneer when performing as Snape that clearly descended from some early onset joint pain due to Manopause. No question about it. Disdain for his lessers certainly contributed, but there is no chance his sciatica wasn’t nagging the fuck out of him during some of the more intense scenes.
- Low tolerance for stupidity. Covid-19 has been a revelation for me as to how much I hate stupid people. All my life, I have dealt with being smarter than 99.9% of humans. But it was just something I knew and accepted. I never judged or compared myself to other people. As I age, and Manopause dig its talons deeper into my psyche, it is so obvious how truly gifted I am – and that minimally 25% of the population is a moron. Covidiot stupid. Donald Trump stupid. Tiger King stupid (although I will admit to watching (and hating) it). Insipid and selfish, Covid-19 has revealed the haves and have-nots in the brains department. Unwavering faith in god or the government or their youth or their freedom, these intellectually inept mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers make me thankful every day that my death will occur in the next thirty years. Snape’s take on this subject? Do you even need to ask? We both weep for this world.
- Hate visitors. This issue has magnified with Covid-19… and Manopause. Home is my sanctuary. I deal with people every day in the public to varying degrees of enjoyment or lack thereof. But when I am home? Ahhhh. It is quiet. There is a furry dog to snuggle. There is an interesting, insightful, sexy spouse who makes me laugh. It is safe from the plague because of the near-fascist lockdown protocols my brilliant wife has enacted to protect us. Right now, the thought of anyone else coming through those sacrosanct doors is pure anathema. Before Covid? Honestly? Kinda the same, but not as obvious. Not sure if it is the pressure to be “on” in my “off” space. Not sure if it is the mess and clean-up. Not sure if it is that I simply want to visit others outside of my home. Lately, one of my daughters said I reminded her of a codgety curmudgeon, like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, yelling, “You kids get off my lawn!” Thanks for that, Manopause. But you can also imagine Severus Snape sitting in his office, buried in books of potions. Everything is quiet and peaceful. His thoughts are dark and scheming. Then Harry Fucking Potter bursts through the door with one of his damn dramas to deal with. Hate you most, Harry.
For those of you reading this because you are young, and it is about Harry Potter stuff, don’t be so annoyingly vapid. Heed the wisdom of your elder and do not succumb to aging. As Dylan Thomas warns, “Rage against the dying of the light.”
Maybe instead of accepting aging and feeling sorry for each other, we push back. We refuse to let our changing minds and bodies be a rate-limiting factor, and instead, we dig deeper to embrace these changes with passion and exact more joy from our fleeting existence before we take our final dirt nap and go to the void.
When Brian of Nazareth is mistaken for Jesus and hysterically – albeit blasphemously – crucified in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, as he hangs on the cross, he sings, “Always look on the bright side of life. Life’s a piece of shit when you look at it. Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true.”
My motto since starting this blog: If life sucks, laugh at it.
Snape had the right attitude, made all the better with his symptoms of Manopause.
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Featured image downloaded courtesy of DevianArt.com, artist Frankief, Angry Sea II