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How I spent my summer vacation

Part 4 — It never rains in Seattle. 

So I flew to Seattle, city where I was born and spent most of my childhood...

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The trip's highlight, by far, was seeing Sarah-Katherine three times, but other stuff happened, too. Some of it was grand. Most of it was nice. Some of it was frustrating, and a lot of the latter seems to involve my mom. 

♦ ♦ ♦

She has never been on time for anything in my recollection, which always made me mental when I lived in Seattle. If Mom is supposed to be somewhere at noon, you tell her to be there by 11:15, tell her it's urgent, and there's a good chance she'll there by noon. If you want to be sure, though, tell her 10:30.

This visit, since I usually had nowhere to be, I tried to relax and watch her dawdle, enjoying it as performance art. Like when she and Ralph came to pick me up at the airport. The plane was scheduled to land at 12:30, but when Ralph told me on the phone that Mom would be driving, I knew she'd be late. It was just a question of how late she'd be. 

The plane was about ten minutes early, and Mom and Ralph were about twenty minutes late. Not bad, really. After the required hugs, I asked what had happened, and just smiled at the answer from Ralph. "Mom made a detour to point out where her ex-pastor's former daughter-in-law used to live, and the corner where I was arrested when I was 15…"

"I'll bet that was a happy memory," I snarked.

After getting my luggage, we left the airport, but Mom had another change of plans. She wanted us to have a "quick visit" with the parents of some kids Mom takes care of in the church daycare center. The quick visit lasted about half an hour, and the parents spoke only Lao. I don't speak Lao, and neither does Ralph, but Mom speaks about half a dozen words of the language, and she repeated those words for half an hour. 

"You're not too talkative today," she said to me, while trying to communicate with the family that spoke only Lao. I'm shy around strangers, yes, and surrounded by strangers who don't speak English, what am I supposed to say? 

"Sorry, Mom," I said. "It must be the jet lag." Ralph laughed, but Mom didn't get the joke. 

♦ ♦ ♦

While the church was mostly empty one weekday, I accompanied Mom inside to pick up a casserole in the kitchen, which she was supposed to deliver to a bereaved friend. Someone else was in the kitchen, though, so Mom began a conversation. After being forcibly introduced to this church lady, I excused myself to use the boy's room, but instead for a few minutes I wandered the building alone.

This was the church I grew up attending, with its giant sanctuary that seats hundreds in theory, but in fact seats dozens most weeks, and maybe, maybe a hundred on Easter. With the House of the Lord almost empty, I walked many a hallway through the labyrinth of classrooms and meeting rooms and other rooms, and saw younger me everywhere.

That's the choir room, where I learned that adolescent boys shouldn't sing in public.

That's the Sunday School class where Rita slapped my face in seventh grade. It's the same room where years earlier, Blaine wet his pants when he was maybe six years old.

That's the room where we rehearsed the Christmas play.

That's where I argued with Old Man Amos, just once, and he was so dang angry.

That's where Mrs Bedford fell down the stairs.

That corner over there, behind the drinking fountain, is where I snuck a smooch on Lily when nobody was looking.

That's the room that used to be the church's library, where you could borrow only the world's most boring books.

That's where a homeless man wandered into the building one Sunday, and Old Man Amos helpfully showed him toward the door, back onto the street.

That's the furnace room where Richard invited me to "play a little game of sex."

That's the room where my mom attended a sewing circle for a few years, until there weren't enough ladies to make a circle, and the final week when my mom said she was the only person who showed up.

That's the room where we held our church membership classes, back when I thought I was a Christian, and I made the pastor miserable by arguing some picayune point of Biblical principle.

So much of my childhood took place in that big building with the ugly carpet, when I was that skinny smooth-faced kid who'd believe anything.

♦ ♦ ♦

Later in the week, on another of Mom's many detours on our way to someplace I wanted to go that instead led to places she wanted to go, she took me to A & H Drugs. There she introduced me to the lady who works the cash register at the photo supply counter, and let me tell you, that was a thrill. 

At the back of the store, though, they had one of those old penny scales, so I weighed myself. I'm down fifty pounds from a year ago, or the scale's busted but still takes your penny.

♦ ♦ ♦

Mom's mission to make sure I met everyone she knows in King County brought us to a public library branch one afternoon, where I met another friend of hers, someone who works there. Nothing wrong with the friend, or particularly memorable; just another frumpy church lady.

And I like libraries, so I very briefly leafed through some magazines on the periodicals shelf. And then Mom said let's go, so we left the library — or tried to, but a scanner beeped as I walked past.

You get used to those damned devices, scanning you at every door you walk through out in the world, but other than at the airport, where I have to empty all the junk from my pockets and backpack, I've never been 'caught' before — and 'caught' was clearly the librarian's reaction. Still the obedient boy I'd been at 8, I politely and cooperatively emptied my pockets onto the counter by the door.

She glanced at my stuff, which of course included nothing interesting or incriminating, and in a bored voice she said, "Jacket, please."

That's the moment I snapped out of my Mom-induced stupor and said "No!" loud enough to startle the library lady, embarrass Mom, and lift the security guard's eyes across the room. He walked over, slowly, and while he was walking he said something innocuous (I don't even remember what), but I started bellowing that if he wanted to strip search me he'd better call a real cop, 'cause I'm not gonna get naked at the library for some Brink's minimum wager.

To be clear, he hadn't asked me to disrobe. Not sure he'd asked me anything. Was I out of line? Well, hell yeah, I was out of line, but I was pissed.

"Hey, I didn't even come to the library to read," I said or shouted. "I didn't touch a single book. I was dragged along to meet my mother's friend, and nobody's gonna search me without a fight, or at least a warrant, or maybe both."

The guard and the librarian just watched me rant, didn't interrupt, but when I was quiet the guard said, "We need to see what's in your pack."

"You know what's in my pack? A presumption of innocence. Call a cop or show me a warrant."

The guard looked like he was afraid of me, and rightly so. Sometimes I forget I'm big and fat and twice the size of a normal man, but sometimes it's to my advantage.

The head librarian emerged from her office, to shush me I assumed, and she was level-headed, unlike me. As expected, she started with he index finger over her lips, even said shhh. Then she explained that sometimes the magnetic strip on a credit card can cause the scanner to beep erroneously. She apologized, and asked me to walk through the scanner at the door again, but without my wallet.

Well, I haven't got any credit cards, of course, but I handed my wallet to my mortified mother, walked again through the scanner, and this time it didn't beep. Later I went through the contents of my wallet, and yeah, my California ID card has a magnetic strip on the back, which probably encodes my vital stats, driving record, police and dental history, social security number, preferred brand of toothpaste and underwear, and mother's maiden name. And apparently, it sets off alarms at the public library.

My mom apologized — not to me, but to the head librarian, the security guard, the junior librarian, and all the readers and patrons who'd watched my show.

As we stepped outside she started scolding me, but I was still angry and in no mood, so I sort of angrily explained my philosophy of what freedom, privacy, and good citizenship mean, and Mom of course disagreed. Her view is that the librarians and guard were just doing their jobs, and since I had nothing to hide, she couldn't understand why I hadn't simply cooperated, emptied my pockets, emptied my pack.

To me, it's not about whether you or I have anything to hide. The point is, you have a right to walk around in public without being forced through scanners and emptying your pockets at every doorway — especially in a library. 

It was Mom, though, so this was an argument I couldn't win. She's earnestly trying to live her life within the Ten Commandments, and doesn't give a hoot about the Ten Amendments. She kept saying I'd had nothing to hide, nothing to hide, and asking me why I hadn't simply pulled all my pockets inside-out. 

For the rest of the week, Mom told and re-told the library story to my brothers, my niece, a long-ago neighbor, a lady at the grocery store… and always she added her summary at the end, "If it happened to me, I wouldn't have made a scene. If they'd asked me, why, I would've stepped into the ladies' room with the librarian, and let her search me until she was satisfied I hadn't stolen anything…"

I believe Mom would do that, and do it smiling. And the horror of her words isn't complete unless you could see the sincere, serene, proudly compliant look on her face each of the times she said it.

♦ ♦ ♦

My eyes watered a little on my second trip to my father's grave, this time accompanied by Katrina and Kimberly and Sheila (who never knew my dad), and George and his girlfriend, whose name I never caught, and of course Mom was there. I didn't cry, though. My grief is private, and I don't like crying in public, which seems to be the point of a cemetery or a funeral. 

Anyway, if I'd cried in front of Mom I'm sure she would've later described every teardrop and recited whatever I sniffled for everyone she knows, and she knows everyone in Seattle, so I decided there would be no tears, no words. I prefer keeping everything inside, at least around her.

Different people grieve in different ways. Mom grieves by spending half her waking hours remembering and discussing every painful detail of Dad's cancer and chemo and death and funeral and burial, even now, a year and a half after his demise. I try to remember him in his healthy years, when I think of him at all. Both extremes are probably signs that we need counseling (doesn't everyone on Earth?), but my method allows much more leisure time. 

♦ ♦ ♦

I don't preach it, because I hate people who preach anything, and anyway, I'm flexible about it, but I don't eat meat. Or at least, not often. "I do eat a hamburger now and then," is my general line, "but my health is better and my bowels flow smoother if I eat green instead of red." I don't think the penny scale was lying. 

I said it once each to Katrina, Clay, and Ralph when the subject came up, and ten or twelve times daily to Mom, who kept trying to push hamburgers down my throat.

Telling people was awkward, but Katrina and George accepted it without even a shrug, like, OK. They didn't try to push a pot roast at me. Clay made it a running joke, always offering me bacon at breakfast and beef jerky as a snack, which was funny the first few times. Mom wrinkled her nose perplexed, but mostly the words seemed to bounce right off her ears and fall to the floor. And ten minutes later she'd say, "Here's a McDonald's, would you like a cheeseburger?"

♦ ♦ ♦

Oh, and the big barbecue was something, and not just because of all the meat. 

It was exactly the party I'd specifically asked my mother not to throw for me, with the entire family all around all at once, and old friends of mine, old friends of the family, old faux friends from the church, and utter absolute strangers all telling me how marvelous it was to see me. I hate, despise, can't abide, and don't attend parties, can't handle dealing with people in such numbers, and it was entirely awful.

To my mother I said, "I asked you, told you more than twice, please Mom, no 'welcome home' party, please," but she stared at me and smiled and said, "This isn't a party. It's a barbecue." Then she stepped away, to tell someone else what had happened at the library.

And so it came to pass that thirty people, some I love and some I like and some I don't and some complete strangers, spent hours eating hamburgers and hot dogs in my brother Clay's back yard and living room and cul-de-sac.

The food was fine (and I'll admit, I had some bratwurst cuz it smelled soo good) but the conversation was almost inescapable and always about nothing, and how many times could I explain my odd employment to how many people?

Zero. I lied, and told everyone I was still working at Macy's, keying price changes in an eighth floor office I haven't set foot in for months.

Hazel talked, but nobody could quite make out what she was saying, Katrina and Dave talked about Kimberly, Kimberly and Sheila whispered sweet somethings in each other's ears, George and Ralph talked about AA, Dick talked about his new girlfriend who's surprisingly young, Clay talked about the church, Karen talked about Sunday School, Ralph talked about prison, Mom talked about Dad's cancer and death and funeral, mystery guests talked about whatever they talked about, and I briefly hid in a walk-in closet.

George, Dick, and I had a bizarre, unpleasant conversation about my sex life that doesn't exist, and they (jokingly?) theorized that since I live in San Francisco I must be gay. It's required by city law, don't you know. It's not the first time it's been whispered in the family, but the barbecue was the first time I'd heard the theory spoken aloud in 'polite' conversation. 

Mom was eavesdropping nearby, and I suspected she'd asked George and Dick to ask about it, and decided to have some fun. "Enough already," I said, "I can't keep up this pretense any longer." Mom's eyeballs got bigger, and I got hammier. "You're my family, you have a right to know," and I paused, trying to make it a soap opera scene. Half the barbecue crowd seemed to be watching, and the room was so quiet you could head a cliché drop.

"It's true," I announced. "I'm a— I'm— (pausing and making a pained face for effect) "— I'm a lesbian. I have always been attracted to women."

To this, a smattering of nervous giggles from the family, and I'm sure half the crowd still thinks I'm gay. Hell, I'm almost 37 years old, never married, no girlfriend, I don't agree with the Christians that gays should be crucified, and clinching it, I moved to San Francisco, the international city of sin, so of course I'm gay. The fact of the matter is moot; the family has decided.

♦ ♦ ♦

On Wednesday morning, too early, I was supposed to meet Mom at (sigh) McDonald's, to shake hands with my father's best friend from Boeing, a guy named Jack.

Mom and Jack met at Dad's funeral, and they quickly became McDonaldland buddies, meeting for breakfast every second Wednesday morning, where Mom gives Jack my dad's subscription copy of Aviation Week and Space Technology, and they talk about Dad over coffee. It's innocent, maybe heartwarming if you have a heart, and Mom had insisted (and nobody can insist like Mom) that I had to meet Jack, so my intent was to be there.

However, I'd slept at Clay's that night, and he was my transport, and he took me to the wrong McDonald's. By the time we figured out where we were supposed to be and Clay dropped me off, Jack had already gone, and Mom was getting on her bike, ready to pedal to her daycare work. I apologized for being late, and she shrugged and waved and rode away.

I walked inside and ordered a cup of McDonald's styrofoam coffee, and sat on a plastic chair alone, listening to the Muzak, wishing I was asleep, and wondering what I'd do with a wide open, unbooked day of my own in Seattle. Decided I'd start by sipping the scalding, shitty coffee and reading the restaurant's free copy of the previous day's Post-Intelligencer, before busing around the city, seeing some forgotten sights, and then— 

Mom burst back into the McDonald's wearing a smile too big for her face, and I knew instantly I was in trouble. "Why don't you come with me to daycare today?" she said. "You can meet [Bland Blah and Blah, the names of several infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers Mom had told me about many times already)."

"Ah, no thanks, maw," I attempted. "I was planning to kick around the old town today, maybe call a friend, or just relax and ride the bus alone…"

"Oh, you wouldn't want to spend the day alone," she corrected me. "Come with me to daycare!" And Mom being Mom, thus began fifteen minutes of whispered argument, as she became late for her daycare job, while reciting again and again all the reasons I should spend the next nine damned hours at a daycare center in a church, and me again and again explaining that I don't like big bunches of children, don't want to spend all day in a room that reeks of urine and graham crackers, and also, just plain no.

"But I really want to show you my life here, and I love the daycare. I want you to be with me there."

Christ, I wanted to say but didn't, do you want me to be with you, or to simply be you? 

As she repeated everything about why I needed to be at daycare with her all day, the coffee kicked in and I recognized that this was all a remake of a movie I'd already seen. It was exactly like when she'd visited me in San Francisco, and insisted without end that we should switch rooms in my rez hotel.

And, no.

"No," said I, and she started up again. "No means no, Mom, so goodbye, and have a nice day at daycare."

Since she was already late I won the argument, but also won her scowls then and again in the evening. Freed from her plans for my day, I rode a bus downtown, and replayed the argument with my mother, especially this line that seemed so perfectly Mom:

"Oh, you wouldn't want to spend the day alone." 

Yeah, actually I would, and actually she doesn't have any notion at all what I'd want.

When I was a kid, I rarely brought friends home, because I rarely had friends, and generally preferred to hang out in my room alone, or play outside alone. For most of my adult years, I've described myself to everyone, certainly including my mother, as a loner, a recluse, or more poetically as a solitary man. When Mom visited me in San Francisco and asked to meet my friends, I had to explain repeatedly that I have no friends there to meet. And in this week in Seattle, I'd already said to almost every family member I'd seen, usually with Mom standing beside me, "Sure, I haven't written or called in 3½ years, but you know, I'm a hermit."

And still, no matter how many times and ways I say it, Mom doesn't get it.

"Oh, you wouldn't want to spend the day alone." Yes, Mom, I would want to spend the day alone, I did want to spend the day alone, and damn it, I spent the day alone and had a wonderful day.

Downtown, I laughed myself silly at the giant animatronic "Hammering Man" outside the new and improved Art Museum, wandered the gloriously fishy Pike Place Market, bought a few zines at Left Bank Books (and saw my own zine on the shelf), and walked a few blocks to a building I'd once called home, in a slummy neighborhood where there's a cheap sandwich shop that had fed me thousands of times, years earlier. And just like old times, that day it fed me two egg salad sammiches and a can of diet root beer.

Then I bused to the University District, and lower Queen Anne, and Ballard, where I needed some change to call a friend, so I went into a thrift store and scored a 99¢ pair of used glasses that almost exactly match my prescription.

With the world in better focus, I could watch pretty girls from clear across the street, and that's how I spent the afternoon at Alki.

Then a bus took me to the city limits, and the house where I'd grown up, where strangers live now and it's painted the wrong color. I didn't stare long; it's not home any more. Not my neighborhood, either. Walked a few blocks toward the woods where I used to play alone and skipped school so many times, but now the trees are gone, replaced by new streets with apartments and strip malls.

Everything's changed and still changing, maybe including me. And then I bused to my first date with Sarah-Katherine, and the changes seemed for the better.

And to think, I could've spent the whole day in a Presbyterian daycare center, watching Mom watching tots and hating myself.

♦ ♦ ♦

Mom and I had other arguments over inane things, like when she washed my clothes — I hadn't asked her to, but thanked her — and she insisted that I change shirts.

"Put on this shirt, it suits you better." My most boring blue button-down shirt, instead of the tie-dye tee I was wearing? And it was almost suppertime, not first thing in the morning. "It's too loud," she said, meaning my tie-dye.

"Is there a noise limit for shirts in Seattle?" I asked. She gave me her fatal sneer, as if I'm being disrespectful to wear what I want to wear.

♦ ♦ ♦

Maybe the essential Mom Moment was our breakfast with Jesus. It's not visiting Mom if she doesn't have a chance to cry over my lack of Christianity, so there's always at least one long, boring for me, painful for her conversation about my soul. Actually, I'm surprised there was only one all week.

It was at a McDonald's of course. While I ate a muffin, she asked about my "walk with the Lord," though I've made it clear for a long, long time that I'm not a Christian. Then she prattled on and on about Jesus and the disciples, loaves and fishes, and where on Earth am I going to meet a nice Christian girl if I don't go to church?

"I don't want to meet a nice Christian girl, and I'm not going to church." She knows how I feel about all this Christian crap, and I know how she feels about it. My preference would be avoiding the subject, but if she brings it up I'll answer the questions, which always makes her bawl, but never stops her from bringing it up again.

Typed a few more paragraphs about this, then clicked them away. It's all happened before, the questions and the crying, and I've written about it before, and just because she re-enacts it every time we're together doesn't mean I have to re-write it.

♦ ♦ ♦

Since everyone else in the family, maybe all of America has a cable-ready 36-channel outlook on life, I watched some television during my time in Seattle, and wow, getting rid of my set seems more and more like the sanest thing I've ever done. 

Clay and Karen insisted that I see Home Improvement. "It's the funniest show on TV," Clay promised, so I sat and stared at it for half an hour. Never once had an urge to smile, while Clay and Karen roared louder than the laugh track.

The next night at a different home, Katrina was watching Ellen, so I couched myself and braced myself. It made me giggle once or twice, but there was a long lag between smiles, and it all seemed like the kind of silly slapstick Lucille Ball did better 40 years ago, and I never liked Lucy either. What a grump I am, I guess.

And the commercials! They're 30-second thought-free zones that come one before the next in an unbroken line until the shows and the ads merge into one long void. Each commercial feels like a new insult, as if the announcer is saying, "Buy this, moron," in exactly those words.

♦ ♦ ♦

Speaking of tedious, I ate at a lot of chain restaurants, and I'm no gourmet but what could be blander than breakfast at McDonald's? 

Everyone in the family bought me food, though, and I said thank you a lot. Most of them I was able to nudge toward good diners and coffee houses. Being cheap and poor, the only meal I was planning to buy was at Beth's with Sarah-Katherine, but she slyly paid for both of us while I thought she was going to the ladies' room. I owe you dinner, gorgeous.

I wrote reviews of the better meals, but I've been long-winded already and can't afford extra pages for this month's zine, so I'll simply say Beth's Café is still the best, same as when I lived in Seattle and ate there weekly.

Seattle's other good eateries, endorsed by me, include The Green Man Café at Pike & Boylston, FranGlor's Creole Café near the Kingdome, the Puss Puss on Pike Street, The Colliery in Renton, and oh yeah, that Mexican place on the hill.

♦ ♦ ♦

And despite Seattle's wet reputation, I didn't see a single drop of rain the whole week. 

♦ ♦ ♦

It's almost over. Thanks for sticking with me, if anyone's still reading this.

♦ ♦ ♦

During the flight home, I was as depressed as hell. Not from saying goodbye, but from learning the lesson yet again that the Bradys and Cleavers and Waltons are only on TV. There are no real families like that, and mine isn't like that, either.

There are families far more dysfunctional than mine, of course, but mine's the one I'm stuck with, and it's never quite a Hallmark card. I wanted to see them, and I saw them. Wanted to connect with them, and I'm not sure I did. Not sure I ever have. There were hugs and conversations, memories and laughs, and I love all of them and they love me, but most of them I honestly don't understand.

Blue me was looking out the window at a blue sky, when I realized that I was involuntarily humming the last hymn my mother had sung at the airport, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty." Even at thirty thousand feet in the air, it's Mom and God.

I tried to override it by summoning Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It," but the battle of the bands was interrupted by a shriek of terror from a few rows ahead.

Pretending to read a newspaper, I watched through the seats as a college-age tough boy cried into his companion's arms every time the wings tilted or the plane shook, as we made our slow descent toward San Francisco Airport.

It had been a completely routine flight, but he was terrified, and she soothed him with soft syllables and a long hug. My dad would've recited the statistics that flying is the safest way to travel, but I didn't say anything. It was free entertainment, that's all. He looked about 25, way past old enough to be an adult, but he wouldn't be calmed. He would've been screaming instead of whimpering, if his girlfriend hadn't been there. 

As the plane gently touched down he let out one last horrendous wail, and she kept her arms around him as we taxied to the terminal. When the pilot announced, "Welcome to San Francisco," there was a small round of applause, and I saw several people reach out to pat that schmuck on the back. People nicer than me, certainly. He laughed and kissed the dame who'd comforted him, which garnered another smattering of claps.

I'm not white-knuckle about flying like that young man, but sometimes I'm white-knuckles about life, and there's nobody like that dame of his, giving me a hug. Ah well, no complaints. I'm tough, right? Waited for my suitcase, scowled at a bum who wanted spare change, then caught a bus for a long ride home to the slums.

From Pathetic Life #12
Tuesday, May 16 - Tuesday, May 23, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

7 comments:

  1. Great reading as usualy, Doug.

    Now you're moving back to Seattle and I live there (Kirkland actually) so a warning, maybe you don't know, it's changed a lot since you were here. It got bigger, meaner, more expensive, the traffic never quits. All the restaurants you mentioned are gone too. Be careful before you jump.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I visited Seattle a few summers ago, stayed way way way out in the suburbs but saw enough of the city and metro to know it's noplace like home. Yeah, the traffic never quits — virtually every time we got on a highway it was a traffic jam — and the internet tells me Seattle's now one of the most expensive cities in the world. I'd say my eyes are open. I'm expecting it to be worse than I'm expecting, and I'm expecting it to be bad.

      That said, before I got married and became a soft old man, I used to be able to survive nicely on the cheap, and I'm hoping those skills are still somewhere inside me.

      Thanks for the kind words, btw, and any Seattle advice is welcome.

      Delete
  2. Hi Doug,

    You have related stories from time to time about being bullied as an adolescent, and perhaps before that. That must have been terrible, and I would pray for you if there were a god; hope you'll settle for some kindness and a virtual hug over the Web. I finally spotted the bully. Sorry, but it's your mother. She's one of the worst bullies I've heard about. She's too old to do time, so you'll have to do your best to leave when she starts that bullying behavior.

    Man, I don't think I would have stopped at San Francisco. It must be terrible, because socially she's supposed to be a source of comfort and joy. She ain't.

    I'm so sorry.

    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Huh.

      Dang, I'm not sure I ever thought of it that way, seriously. Mom is often a *genuine* nice lady, but she gets overbearing sometimes, it's definitely worse for me than for my siblings, and when she's really cooking it's like she's strangling me without her hands. I'd say that's psychological bullying, at least.

      I've lived this life for 60+ years, and never connected my mom with the word 'bully' before, but it fits. A valuable insight, sir.

      She's mellowed since the 1990s, though, and I've grown more of a spine. I don't *think* moving back to Seattle, living just a few miles from her, presumably seeing her once in a while, is gonna leave fingermarks on my throat.

      Delete
  3. Doug,

    I am not a professional psychologist, a certified counselor, a family therapist, or a major league umpire. I am entirely unqualified to make these judgements. I do care about you and I have spent a fair amount of time with students, focused mostly on topics of information technology team dynamics and leadership skills. So in terms of distinguishing a bully from a run-of-the-mill asshole is a call I'm not trained to make, but, from time to time, I've made it anyway.

    It sure sounded like bullying to me. Of course that was two and a half decades ago, so even if I was on the right track, that train has long since left the station. I just don't like people fucking with my friends, even if those people are their mothers. End disclaimer.

    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're the only counselor covered under my insurance, and you seem to know what you're talking about. I';d give you a good Yelp. Thanks, doc.

      Delete
    2. Damn, I haven't had a good yelp since the Clinton administration.

      jtb

      Delete

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