In the Broadway musical version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Dr. Jekyll has a romantic partner named Lisa, whom he marries near the end of the story. [Spoiler alert: Lisa becomes a victim of Mr. Hyde, who nearly strangles her at their wedding reception.]

Not only do I have the same name as Jekyll’s ill-fated bride, I’m also romantically linked to someone with a dual personality — my husband, Francis. He’s never tried to strangle me, thank goodness, but he sometimes morphs from a hard-working, retired Navy captain into someone else altogether.

Francis’ Mr. Hyde is not violent or evil. To the contrary, he’s a helpless, broken man with a severe limp who emits an endless series of moans and groans while hobbling around our house. Francis is in his 50s, but mysteriously, his alter ego has the physical capabilities of a man 30 years his senior. Francis’ decrepit doppelgänger demands and feels entitled to frequent help from others. Namely, me.

To be fair, Francis’ helpless twin reveals himself mostly when he is tired, sick or injured. Lately, Mr. Hyde has been overstaying his welcome.

Francis had knee replacement surgery eight weeks ago. During his brief hospital stay, he was Dr. Jekyll — charming and agreeable, enduring pain with a positive attitude. But as soon we crossed the threshold of our house, Mr. Hyde made his appearance.

“The anesthetic has worn off,” he moaned. “I need ice!” During the first two weeks, Mr. Hyde required constant ministrations — pillows, ice packs, drinks, medication, TV clickers, books, blankets, snacks, help with this, that and the other. While managing my work and household responsibilities, I was Hyde’s primary caregiver. Despite his reputation for dramatics, I knew he truly needed my assistance in those early days, and I was happy to help.

But soon, physical therapists showed up for home visits, and strange phenomena began occurring. When outsiders weren’t around, Francis loudly verbalized his pain. “Heee, heee, heee, ungh, oohph,” Francis whimpered, grimacing histrionically while stooped over his crutches. The theatrical racket sounded vaguely similar to the Lamaze breathing method I was taught during my first pregnancy.

But as soon as the therapists set foot in our house, Francis’ contractions seemed to stop. In an instant, he stood up straight, smoothed his furrowed brow, adopted a positive attitude, and stopped fussing. Mr. Hyde had taken his leave. Captain Molinari was back!

“Great work today, Francis. I’ll see you Thursday,” the therapist said while walking out the front door after a session. I waved good-bye, and as I closed the door, I turned to see Hyde, back again. Slouched and grimacing, he hee-ed, hoo-ed, and ungh-ed as if the baby’s head was crowning.

“Ohhh, I’m gonna be really sore after that session,” he grumbled.

In the weeks that followed, Francis continued to exhibit his dual personalities. Pessimistic Mr. Hyde presented himself only to close family and friends to garner maximum sympathy and assistance. Capable Captain Molinari took over during medical appointments and work calls, the epitome of strength and positivity.

“It’s all about attention,” said Marty, Francis’ college buddy, when Francis noisily hobbled off to the bathroom during Marty’s recent visit. Sensing my frustration, Marty felt the need to distill our situation down to one core human motivation — attention.

Marty was right. Ever since Francis grew up in a big Irish-Italian family with five kids, he’s wanted more attention. Francis has worked hard, in the military and in the civilian workplace after retirement. Is it so much to ask for a little extra care every once in a while?

As much as I’d like to permanently evict Mr. Hyde, I get it. Attention-seeking was the reason I was elected 1984 Indiana High School Class Clown, after all. It’s my primary motivation for being a writer, and it’s what induced me to dance like an idiot during a recent drag queen show at a local bar.

As humans, we long to be seen, heard and fussed over. Naturally, social beings want positive recognition, because it’s an indication of belonging. In our own ways, we all Hyde and seek.

Read more at and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

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