What I wanted was to find him slumped in his uneasy chair, naked nails on the wall, haircut in his hands, not even a poodle by his side.
I wanted someone who was sorry -- sorry for what he'd done, sorry for what was next, sorry to be stuck in his new, sorry life.
But that's not what I found.
Lance Armstrong is happy. In fact, he looks better at 42 than I've ever seen him, less gaunt in the face, thicker in the chest, bluer in the eyes. I found a man sitting in his den, surrounded by his seven Tour de France chalices, his 3-year-old, Olivia, on his lap, kissing him and laughing.
Really pissed me off.
I came to see ruins, not joy. I came to see a man ruined for lying to me for 14 years -- and letting me pass those lies on to you. Ruined for lying to everybody. And not just lying to the world, but lying angrily, lying recklessly and leaving good people wrecked in his lies.
It wasn't enough he'd been stripped of his seven wins, not enough that, so far, he'd lost half his estimated $120 million fortune to lawsuits, had to sell homes, his jet, lost every single endorsement (another $150 million), his earning capacity, and his association with the very foundation he started and built, Livestrong-- with two more lawsuits to go.
Yet here he was telling me he was "at peace" with it. I didn't want him at peace. I wanted him in pieces.
"People are going to call bulls--- on this, but I've never been happier. Never been happier with myself or my family. My kids suffer no bullying at school. Nobody says anything to them. They're doing great. Anna and I are extremely happy and content. It's true."
As I left, I thought about my motives for coming at all.
If a man has suffered the loss of more than half his wealth and 100 percent of his reputation, how much more blood should I want? I felt a little shame in coming at all.
As I come to the end of my sportswriting career, I wonder whether I need to make peace, too. Peace with the athletes who thrilled me, then disgusted me. Pete Rose, Ben Johnson, Mark McGwire, Marion Jones, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong. Peace with letting myself be thrilled, and then fooled, time and again. Why carry it as I go? And if Armstrong is over it, why aren't I? "You've got to live life no matter what's going on," Anna says. "Cancer teaches you that. Life isn't going to wait."
So I forgive Lance Armstrong for all the lies, though he's not asking for my forgiveness. And maybe I forgive myself for letting myself be lied to in the first place. And I thank him for the hope he still gives the millions who still believe in him, though I'm not one of them.
I like that the reporter was aware that a lot of his negative feelings were his own pride being hurt because he was duped, but you wonder what did he expect?.The reporter thinks he is somehow special that he would be treated differently than everyone else in the world? (For a better reaction to Lance Armstrong, see Matthew McConaughey.) And maybe part of me has a hard time taking sports seriously, but it also reminds me of this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt "you have been honest with yourself and those around you"? Really? Because I think word on the street is that Eleanor Roosevelt was a closeted gay woman in a sham marriage as someone's beard, which may or may not constitute fraud on the entire American people. But we aren't pissed at her, I guess because she didn't hurt hundreds of other cyclists who would have placed slightly higher than they otherwise did (although, again in weighing pros and cons fashion, Armstrong arguably did more to benefit cycling as a whole by raising awareness and popularizing it than he ever hurt it as a whole or hurt individual cyclists, even in the aggregate.)
Our narcissist reader's thoughts:
When narcissists like Lance stop caring about being admired, they change in a fundamental way.
Before his striving was focused on winning and getting away with it - securing as much admiration as he could. Now he's probably focused on helping his kids, staying on good terms with his wife and managing his investments. That is, more utilitarian concerns. If you offered Lance enough money, he might star in a porn film to benefit cancer victims, because he'd think, "well, my reputation is worth nothing now, but we can turn my celebrity into money for cancer victims, so let's go!"
He is probably still noticeably psychopathic. If Lance thinks, "that was a good day", and you ask him why, it is probably because he ate some nice food, had a big orgasm and made a lot of money in the market. That is, thrilling. He might not remember days as the one where he had a deep emotional conversation with his partner, someone opened a door for him and he felt gratitude or he took a walk and felt wonderment and awe that he is alive, has legs that work, eyes and a mind that sees, etc.