I have a touch of writer’s block today. I’m having trouble coming up with a good topic for the main blog, although I wrote one about our Thanksgiving for the travel blog. When this happens, I typically go to the original version of The Overeducated Housewife and mine for a repost. Sometimes doing that will spawn a fresh topic. And sometimes, I simply find another chestnut to share again… Today is one of the days I’m going to share an oldie. Word to the wise… this is a weird story and may be too TMI for some people. Proceed with caution. This was originally written on November 21, 2018.
Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends shared this video of the song “Dream Weaver” by Gary Wright.
In 1976, my dad was the base engineer at Mildenhall Air Force Base in England. This song was popular, along with a lot of other great songs from the 70s. I’ve always liked it, although I was a small child when it was a hit. It still sounds pretty good in 2018, at least to my ears. I also like Wright’s other big song, “Love Is Alive.”
When Bill and I met, he told me there are a few songs he hates. For instance, he doesn’t like the songs “Strong Enough” by Sheryl Crow or “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” by Bryan Adams, mainly because his ex used to play them as a means of demonstrating to Bill what kind of man she thought he should be.
If you know my husband (and a few readers do), you know that he is one of those people who bends over backwards to please others. He’s got a really kind heart and does whatever he can to make other people happy. To hear that his best efforts weren’t enough for his ex wife was shattering. The fact that she used music to drive home that point was especially cruel. She ruined some good music and a lot of children’s books that way. She was also fond of using books by Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein to make her points about Bill’s alleged shortcomings.
So, although I do like “Strong Enough”, I never play it when Bill is around, because I know it reminds him of dark times. Fortunately, I don’t really like Bryan Adams’ love ode, so we have no problems, there. For a long time, I avoided playing anything by The Muppets or Kenny Loggins’ wonderful children’s album around Bill because I knew they would make him sad.
Another song Bill hates is “Dream Weaver”, but that’s because of another person in his life– his first stepfather. When Bill was about ten years old, his mother decided to remarry. I think remarriage of a parent is hard enough for most youngsters, but it’s especially difficult when the new spouse turns out to be abusive. The guy Bill’s mom married was a very handsome fellow and talented artist I’ll call B.J. Actually, B.J. was the name he went by. Come to think of it, it was probably an inspired nickname.
At least on the surface, B.J. had a lot going for him. He was tall, blond, athletic and very physically attractive, and he was legitimately and generously blessed with artistic gifts. Although I never met the man myself, I have seen a beautiful portrait he did of my mother-in-law. She kept the artwork, although the marriage was mercifully brief.
Bill and B.J. didn’t really hit it off very well. Evidently, B.J. used to do things like blow cigarette smoke in Bill’s face and tell him that he was “emotionally unavailable”. B.J. once said that talking to Bill was like talking to a brick wall. Bill really took that comment to heart, and it made him feel great shame. I don’t understand where B.J. got the idea that Bill wasn’t easy to talk to. I find him very easy to talk to… but then, B.J. was probably a bit resentful that Bill was around. Bill took away attention from his mother that B.J. probably thought should be directed solely to him.
B.J. was a big fan of Gary Wright’s music, and he especially liked the song “Dream Weaver”. He used to play that song a lot. B.J. also liked wearing women’s clothing and, in fact, was probably transgender. The whole reason B.J. wanted to be married was because he was hoping to learn how to be a woman. He thought maybe Bill’s mom could teach him that. This was not something B.J. had disclosed before he and my mother-in-law tied the knot. Once she found out what his agenda actually was, she made plans and eventually got a divorce. My mother-in-law and B.J. lost touch after that.
I try to be open-minded about most things. I don’t know anything about what it’s like to be transgender. I can only imagine that it’s extremely difficult even today, and was almost certainly much more so in the 1970s, when people had much less understanding and consideration for those who are different. I’m sure B.J. had some traumatic issues that caused him to be the way he was… not necessarily transgender, but mean and abusive. There was some reason B.J. found pleasure in being disrespectful to Bill and saying cruel things that he knew would upset him. Hurting people tend to be hurtful to others. It’s a vicious cycle. B.J.’s status as a transgender person is not what made him mean, although it’s possible that the treatment he received from others, possibly because he was so different, is what led to him being so abusive.
I didn’t know B.J., although I’ve heard some stories about him over the years. He wasn’t Bill’s stepfather for very long, which is a good thing. However, even though B.J. was Bill’s stepfather for only a few years, he did leave a lingering calling card, besides that beautiful portrait of Bill’s mother. Now, whenever the song “Dream Weaver” plays, Bill is reminded of that guy– a man he hasn’t seen in well over forty years. And although I never knew the man myself, when I hear it, now I’m reminded of the stories I’ve heard about him.
It’s amazing how the most innocuous things can leave a lasting impression. It might be a piece of music or art. It might be certain foods or smells. I have written a few times about how much I hate mushrooms. I have always hated them. When I was a child, I was literally phobic of them. I’m still a bit phobic of mushrooms, though not nearly like I was when I was a young child in England. In those days, whenever I saw a mushroom growing in the yard, I would freeze and start screaming hysterically. Today, I still kind of cringe when I see them, but I don’t scream anymore.
My sisters were kind of mean spirited teenagers at that time. In our English backyard, there were a lot of toadstools that grew wild. Sometimes, my sisters would pick them and chase me with them, all the while laughing hysterically at me as I screamed and ran away. One of my sisters went as far as reinforcing the phobia by drawing mean faces and shark teeth on any mushrooms in my coloring books. To this day, when someone posts a picture of a dish with mushrooms on social media or I smell them cooking, I’m reminded of that time when I was a child. It still makes me cringe, even though it’s been years since anyone chased me with a mushroom (one of my cousins did years later, to the same effect). Those experiences are imprinted on my brain, much like certain songs are imprinted on Bill’s.
I thought I was alone in my hatred of mushrooms until one day, I was watching Montel Williams’ talk show, and the topic was phobias. Montel had a guest who was phobic of mushrooms. I watched in amazement as she reacted the very same way I used to when I was very young. To be honest, if someone tried to force me to eat a mushroom or touch one, I’d probably react the same way I did when I was a child. I wrote an article about mycophobia on Associated Content. It generated a lot of hits and was even noticed by the woman who was on Montel Williams. She sent me an email about her experience on the show. Although Montel did get her to touch one and, in fact, kissed her with one between his lips (that would not have worked for me), she said she’s still a bit phobic.
I once entertained the idea of becoming a chef, but abandoned that notion when I realized I couldn’t be a chef and have a mushroom phobia. Maybe I could have been a pastry chef, but even then, I’d probably still have problems. And then I worked at a restaurant for awhile and realized that lifestyle wasn’t one I wanted for the rest of my life. It’s too stressful.
I understand why Bill hates the song “Dream Weaver”, although I like it and probably always will. He understands why I hate mushrooms, although he loves them and truffles and always will. He respects my idiosyncrasies and I respect his. When Bill is around, our house is a Gary Wright free zone. And when we go out to dinner or eat at someone’s house, Bill is supportive when I have to explain why mushrooms are verboten. I’m sure more than a couple of waiters have filed away memorable stories about me telling them about my irrational fears. I guess these things make us more interesting people.
Below are the comments that were left on the original post…
November 23, 2018 at 11:15 PM
BJ sounds like a real douche. being transgender is surely a difficult way to live, but that obviously doesn’t give him a valid excuse to mistreat anyone. I know I’m preaching to the choir here.
November 24, 2018 at 5:36 AM
Oh yeah. Both Bill and his mom are such nice people that they attract abusive narcissists. Both have gotten better about telling those people to fuck off, but it never comes without a price.
I think B.J. is probably dead. My MIL said one time he called her for help after they split up. He was in actual physical danger when he called. I think he was dressed as a woman and about to be beat up or something. So she helped him and then asked him never to contact her again.