Deep-sea creatures like the Anglerfish; string theory, which revealed through mathematics the possibility of multiple dimensions; the unlikely reality television careers of Gary Busey and Bruce Jenner – all these things might qualify for that wonderful Mark Twain quote:
“Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.”
Enter Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, easily the biggest train wreck of a politician today – a man who makes the shamed Anthony Weiner, the former New York Congressman repeatedly caught sexting his genitals to young women, seem like a choir boy.
Ford—round, ruddy, shifty-eyed— looks like Santa Claus’s evil twin. After repeated denials, he finally admitted to smoking crack, blaming a black-out from one of his many drunken stupors. He has shown up plastered at a cozy community festival in Toronto, and issued a cavalcade of memorable quotes on television, including his love for oral sex with his wife (while denying sexual harassment charges).
A recent article in the New York Times recounts his unlikely rise to power. His fellow city council members in Toronto wanted to get rid of Ford, so they bet him he wouldn’t have the gumption to run for mayor. Their goal, of course, was to encourage Ford to vacate his council seat in an impossible quest for higher office. After upping the ante from $20 to $1,000, Ford foolishly agreed. Except due to an unusual shift of political winds, somehow he got elected.
As fiction writers we’re often told to “keep it real.” No one is going to believe crazy, larger than life characters. Except standing before you, the dribbling smile on his huge, pink bucket head stretching from ear to ear, is Mayor Rob Ford—Exhibit A offered as proof we need to trust our intuition and sometimes “go big” when designing our characters. Because they really do exist.