Have you ever found yourself singing the chorus from a King Diamond song at an inappropriate time like in church or at a funeral? Do you ever wake up with your face covered with strange painted designs without knowing how they got there? Do you ever find yourself having bizarre urges, like making furniture out of the leg bone of your neighbor? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be one of the nearly 2 million Americans who suffer from King Diamond’s disease. You are not alone.
King Diamond’s Disease, known to doctors as Bendixitis, claims nearly a thousand new victims a week. You may see many of these poor souls on the streets, covered in backwards crosses, wandering aimlessly while singing the falsetto chorus to Abigail. They often struggle to maintain normal lives. They are your doctors, your teachers, your lawyers and your children’s crossing guards. I know their pain, because, you see, I am one of them.
My story isn’t different from most KDD survivors. It started innocently enough. I’d be in the car on my way to pick up the children from their Tae-Bo class and catch myself howling “Sleeeeeeeplesssss Niiiiiiiightssss” for no reason in particular. I’d find myself thinking about the King more and more each day. When I was eating dinner, I wondered what The King might be eating. When picking out clothing at a shopping mall, my mind would drift to what The King might think about the sweater I was trying on.
Then, one day, I woke up for a critical job interview for the position of Chief Tagalog Translator at The United Nations. As I was putting the finishing touches on my outfit, I looked in the mirror and staring back at me was a 6 foot 2 stranger in a suit and tie with his face painted just like King Diamond on the Conspiracy album. I know that I hadn’t painted it myself! The paint would not wash off no matter what I tried. Imagine my pain and sadness, sitting in the most important job interview in my entire life, knowing that no employer in their right mind would hire a guy who showed up for a job interview dressed like a demented ghoul. They laughed at me. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” they sneered. They simply didn’t understand.
The face paint has never come off. It’s been three years now. I’m still unemployed, although I had a brief part time job as a greeter at Wal-Mart until I was fired for supposedly causing the store to be attacked by evil spirits. My children try their best to understand, but when the other kids make fun of them because their daddy is dressed up for Halloween everyday it hurts their feelings. The community has shunned me. I stopped going to church because they kept dousing me with holy water. Everywhere I go I am an outcast.
There is no known cure for King Diamond’s Disease. A diet low in orange sherbet can lessen many of the symptoms, but Bendixitis is a lifetime ailment that will never leave you once you have it. I have found strength in my support group Survivors of An Unmercyful Fate. We meet once a week and discuss how to live life one day at a time. I have met a lot of great people in the Atlanta area who suffer like me including my sponsor Joann, a kindergarten teacher who has lived with King Diamond’s disease since she saw the King on The Spider’s Lullabye Tour back in 1995. Her strength in going through her day trying to teach the alphabet to screaming, crying, terrified children is an inspiration to us all.
With research and time, a cure might be found. Until that day comes, I will wear my face paint proudly knowing that my “disorder” allows me to have something in common with the greatest vocalist ever to walk the earth. But still, I long for a day when I can walk down the street without old women cringing and middle aged men asking me to sing them a song about my grandmother.