Bill, marriage, memories, music

Repost: My husband hates the song “Dream Weaver”…

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.

This song was made famous in 1976, when I was a wee lass of about 3 or 4 years old.

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.”

This video includes the version of “Dream Weaver” I know best.  It says this song comes from 1972, but that’s incorrect.  It was released in 1975 and was a hit the following year.

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…

AlexisAR

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.

knotty

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.

Standard
celebrities, politics, social media, stupid people

My unfortunate encounter with “Audrey Rose” last night… How horrific!

Last night, I read a news article in The New York Times about why so many “moderate” Republican women have abandoned conservatism for the Democratic Party. It seems that a lot of women who ordinarily identify as moderate or conservative are really upset about the erosion of women’s rights championed by the Republican Party, and they have vowed to stop voting for Republicans. Because I am an American woman who quit voting for Republicans, I decided to comment. To the Times’ question, “Will the abortion debate keep moderate women in the Democrats’ camp?”, I answered thusly:

That’s one major reason why I am done with Republicans. Trump is the biggest reason, though.

I noticed I got a “laughing” reaction. It was from child actress turned lawyer/author/conservative pundit, Susan Swift. I had seen Susan Swift leaving outrageous right wing Facebook comments on a lot of articles posted by The New York Times. I noticed she had a blue check mark, which makes her a “celebrity” or well known person. I figured she was some kind of female Rush Limbaugh acolyte, or something. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to her comments, because I found her rude and snarky, and because I don’t agree with her opinions. I didn’t actually realize Susan Swift was a child actress, though, until I finally looked her up to see why I should care about her opinions, and why she had that blue check mark next to her name.

I was pretty shocked to find out that Susan Swift was in a movie I well remember from my childhood.

Susan Swift was Ivy Templeman in the 1977 horror film, Audrey Rose, when she was 13.

I remember seeing that movie when I was a kid. I most recently watched it when Bill and I were first together, about twenty years ago. I remember getting it from Netflix on DVD and watching it, because I remember seeing it on TV and was kind of haunted by it. Susan Swift was good in Audrey Rose, which also boasted Marsha Mason and Anthony Hopkins in the cast. I mean, Mason and Hopkins are heavy hitting ARTISTS, and Audrey Rose was a pretty decent film. It wasn’t a shitty horror flick, or anything. She’s even been somewhat recently interviewed about her acting career and came across as basically okay there.

I was disappointed when I saw that this former child actress turned right wing political pundit was “laughing” at me for sharing my decidedly unfunny opinion on a random New York Times’ article. I don’t know a lot about Susan Swift, other than she went to law school, became a lawyer and author, and was afforded opportunities that a lot of women before her didn’t have. And apparently, she strongly aligns with a political movement that would like to strip women of their rights and autonomy, and thinks it’s cool that our former president throws tantrums, admires dictators, and brags about sexually harassing and molesting women. What a shitty person she must be. I mean, even if you disagree with someone’s politics, you don’t need to “laugh” at them when they obviously haven’t said anything funny. That’s just disrespectful and rude. Before I looked her up online, I decided to block her. And I posted this:

Blocked Susan Swift, because I have seen her making the rounds. She’s one of Trump’s bullies, who thinks she needs to laugh at people because they understandably don’t want to be led by a pussy grabber who admires dictators and throws tantrums when he loses elections.

Because I wondered why she had that blue check mark by her name, I investigated her acting career, which ended in 1995. She was in a fair amount of stuff back in the day. I did truly enjoy her in Audrey Rose… what a shame that she’s turned into such a creep. I mean, a person can be a conservative and not be a jerk, right? I have conservative friends with whom I don’t discuss politics. We have basic mutual respect. I don’t know Susan Swift at all, and I know she’s a “personality”… but don’t “personalities” get popular because they relate to a lot of people? So basically, Susan Swift relates to a lot of really awful people who enjoy mocking people who have a different world view than she has… as she and her ilk speak of “freedom” from government overreach. Why don’t they see that the government is now trying to reach into the most private and personal aspect of women’s lives? Women make up about half the population!

Over the past a couple of weeks, I have found myself becoming even less tolerant of uncivilized people who feel the need to hurl abuse at others, especially when all they’re doing is respectfully trying to share an opinion. Lately, I’ve been exploring Twitter. I’ve had mixed results with it. Some people on Twitter are hilarious and witty, and it’s fun to read their comments. Others are just incredibly toxic, and they think nothing of insulting people they don’t even know for not sharing their world views. I had to change my settings on Twitter, because I couldn’t deal with the poisonous spew that came forth from Twitter users who lack common decency and decorum. It was giving me a very dystopian and distorted view of my homeland. I’ve been blocking a lot of people on social media who can’t behave decently, especially if they’re strangers.

Anyway, I know that actors and actresses are people too, and one can like an artist’s work and not like them as a person. For years, I’ve loved watching The Brady Bunch, but I had to unfollow Susan Olsen on social media, because I couldn’t take her racist screeds against Muslims and pro Trump rallying cries. And I know I have a lot of former friends and family members who don’t follow me because they don’t want to be exposed to my opinions. At least most of them were decent enough to take action quietly and without mocking or outright abuse. My Uncle Ed is an exception… he actually cussed me out, called me a “liberal nutjob”, and reminded me of some of my dad’s most horrible verbal abuse tirades after one of his frequent benders. I don’t have to abide that from strangers at all, and certainly not from a former child actress turned Republican flunkie.

Standard
Ex, mental health, narcissists, psychology, scams

“Um… excuse me for noticing, but your slip is showing…”

Happy Friday, y’all. Tomorrow is the big day… we’re gonna load up the Volvo and drive south for a vacation in Switzerland, Italy, and Liechtenstein. I’m looking forward to going, although I always worry a bit when we leave home. I especially worry about Arran, who is getting pretty old, and doesn’t enjoy being boarded as much as he used to when he was younger. But one of the reasons we chose to live in Europe is so we could do some exploring of the continent. Because of the pandemic, we’ve been doing less of that in recent years. It’s time we got back to it, if only so I can justify keeping my travel blog going. I do still have a handful of readers there who don’t follow this blog at all, so I like to offer fresh and interesting content to them whenever possible.

I have some stuff to take care of in preparation for the trip. I still need to pack, and there are a couple of routine household chores I’d like to get done before we head off in the morning. But being busy hasn’t stopped me from checking in on Ex. I know a lot of people think I’m “obsessed” with her, and my preoccupation might even be “unhealthy”. I might agree with them; although at this point, I mostly find her intriguing, rather than personally threatening. As an occasional student of psychology, some of the things she does, and gets away with, are fascinating. I think I would find her interesting even if she hadn’t been married to Bill, and I didn’t know her backstory. As a somewhat “relatively normal” person, I am continually shocked by her gall and complete lack of authenticity.

Years ago, I used to love watching cartoons. When I think of Ex, I often think in terms of cartoons. On my original blog, I once famously compared Ex to Wile E. Coyote, because she often has “big” ideas that turn out to be harebrained schemes that eventually blow up in her face. When I wrote that post in the fall of 2018, I got a comment from a reader who felt my posts about Ex were/are completely inappropriate and in “poor taste”. This person, obviously not someone who knows me or the situation, probably assumed that Ex is a “normal” person and I’m just a mean, bitter, second wife. But she’s not a normal person, and if you know anything about her, that reality becomes very clear in a hurry. And I may be mean and bitter sometimes, but I have never once come close to doing some of the things Ex does on a regular basis to people she supposedly loves.

On the surface, she seems like a lovely, thoughtful, “normal” woman. But look closer, and you see who she really is. I often find myself comparing her to cartoon characters, maybe because some of her behavior is very cartoonish. In 2018, Ex’s antics reminded me of Wile E. Coyote… but in 2022, she reminds me more of Yosemite Sam.

“Your slip is showing.”

In 1955, Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam starred in a cartoon called “Sahara Hare”. Yosemite Sam comes riding in on a camel, yelling and carrying on. When the camel doesn’t “whoa” when Sam says “whoa”, he knocks the poor animal on the head with his rifle. Just your typical, garden variety bully, posturing for all the world to see, right?

Meanwhile, Bugs Bunny is bathing in an oasis, good naturedly singing as he steps out, in search of a towel. His eyes are shut when he encounters Yosemite Sam, who wears desert garb that covers his head. Bugs mistakes Sam’s head covering as a towel. Sam whirls around to confront the rascally rabbit, who is busily drying off with Sam’s garb. Bugs asks him what’s up, and wonders if he’s with the side show. Yosemite Sam responds by introducing himself in threatening terms… to which Bugs says, “Your slip is showing.” This makes Sam cower in shame as he tries to cover up something that embarrasses him.

Of course, Bugs was conning him…

Realizing that he’s been duped into shame and humiliation, and feeling determined to gain Bugs Bunny’s respect, Sam gets angry and starts firing his weapon at Bugs, who is calmly departing the scene and easily missing Sam’s bullets. But then Sam nearly misses Bugs, who takes off running. Sam gets back on the camel and screams at him to follow Bugs. The camel doesn’t move, until Sam hits him again… then he won’t stop running, again causing Sam to hit him over the head with his gun.

Yep… Sam is really nothing but a bully, putting on a facade that is meant to intimidate other people. But really, he’s just an abusive, foolish, buffoon, who doesn’t manage to sway the astute. Only the naive or unaware are impressed or intimidated by Sam– a cartoon character who cowers in shame when a rabbit tells him that his “slip is showing”, even after he’s postured this loud, obnoxious, ridiculous spectacle that is supposed to be scary.

Young people among us might not know that a slip is an undergarment, typically worn by women, underneath dresses or skirts made of sheer or otherwise revealing material. It’s intended to preserve modesty, and cover up panty lines and the “naughty bits”… or private parts, if you prefer. That a tough talking little turd like Sam is wearing women’s undergarments is also a statement about his status as a “beta”, trying to act like an “alpha”.

In these more “enlightened” times, this cartoon might seem hopelessly sexist and un-PC, but the point is, Sam is trying to be something he’s really not. He’s a coward and a bully, who preys on the weak, foolish, and gullible. In that way, he’s kind of like Donald Trump. I don’t know how many of us ladies are still wearing slips these days, but when they were commonly worn, just like underwear, slips weren’t supposed to be shown to others. And men, at least in 1955, weren’t supposed to wear slips at all. So, the fact that Sam rushed to hide his “slip” from the trickster bunny is especially embarrassing and shameful.

Now Ex does have her moments of acting like the fiery version of Yosemite Sam. When she gets angry, she’s reportedly kind of “scary”… not that I’ve experienced it directly. I have just been here in the aftermath of other people’s dealings with her. I believe them when they say that she has her “Yosemite Sam” moments, and is full of bluster that can be frightening to experience. Ex also doesn’t really bluff much. Call her on her bullshit, she will happily cut off her nose to spite her own face– or more often, other people’s faces– just to try to “prove you wrong”. While a lot of her antics are, at best, truly ridiculous, sometimes she does do damaging, and even dangerous, things in her efforts to command “respect”.

Like, for instance, she gave up Bill’s generous financial support of his adult daughters, which I know she could and would have used, even though, technically, it wasn’t her money. She realized that maintaining control of offspring, and the official narrative of what really happened, was more important to her than access to Bill’s money was. It also didn’t seem to matter to her that Bill’s daughters might have appreciated having that support, or even access to Bill’s 9/11 GI Bill for college expenses. She was much more focused on her own agenda and what suited her, not what was actually best for Bill’s daughters. I specify Bill’s daughters, because Ex’s other kids aren’t his responsibility, even if he did raise and pay support for Ex’s son with #1. She probably treats her kids with #3 somewhat similarly, although sometimes it seems like Bill’s daughters got the worst treatment– as if they needed to be punished for having his DNA. From what we’ve heard, #3’s daughter seems to be the current golden child.

But, even though Ex was proud to stop taking child support from Bill, and was all too ready to stop her daughters from getting the support directly, she still needs money. She also needs a lot of attention and narcissistic supply. So, she will do things like force her children to take out loans that she can skim from. And, for some reason, she feels compelled to present a completely false version of herself to the world. The opinions of strangers seem to be much more important to her than the opinions of family members. I find that very interesting, which is why I continue to watch her. Of course, I also watch her because she’s repeatedly proven that she’s very underhanded and not above trying to take advantage of people in Bill’s family.

So anyway, this week, after a period of relative calm and quiet, Ex resurfaced with more of her outrageous bullshit. On one social media platform, she shared several memes, accompanied by nonsensical blather that sounded good, but weren’t actually in harmony with specific actions that she’s taken. Click on the images to see what I mean.

Um… this was NEVER an issue with Ex. In fact, in over 20 years of observing her, I have seen that she’s not one to consider other people’s feelings or needs, at least not unless there is something in it for her. Other people are usually catering to her whims.

I really have no idea if she actually believes the crap she routinely spews to the masses. I know she hopes that other people will believe it, and she must get some kind of payback from affirmative comments, positive reactions, and validation she gets from total strangers. But people who really know her, or have even just been exposed to people who know her, realize that this is all a bunch of smoke and mirrors she puts out to the world for some reason. She is a very manipulative person, and it’s not wise to take anything she says or writes at face value.

Making things stranger is the fact that Ex puts out details that have an element of truth within them. Ex did, for instance, work as a university administrator for some years. But we know that Ex dropped out of high school and got a GED, just as her oldest kids did (not sure about her youngest daughter). Ex talks about her alleged goals that were thwarted by other people– her adoptive mom, her adoptive and step dads, her ex husbands, her children (especially her “severely autistic and non-verbal” son), or other entities that supposedly took advantage of her or ripped her off– ie. Mary Kay Cosmetics, Nutrisystem, the LDS church, etc. The list goes on and on. She never seems to be satisfied; she never takes personal responsibility; and her plans are always seemingly overtaken by events or the “bad actions” of other people.

Younger daughter told us that she was forced to leave public school when she was a teenager. Ex made her get a GED, then enroll in college classes, so she could get student loans, something Ex learned about in her role as an administrator, and possibly from her multiple attempts to get her own bachelor’s degree. Ex took the money that wasn’t used by tuition and spent it, leaving younger daughter to pay off the debt. Sadly, younger daughter didn’t even manage to finish the degree. Older daughter supposedly did get a degree, but still lives with her mother and has lots of debt. Ex has had multiple bankruptcies, but here she is dispensing advice as if she’s an expert on education. She did, supposedly get a master’s degree in education, but she’s never really used it professionally. In fact, she left her “university job” because she got fired… something about “mishandling funds”, which prompted her to move across country to a new place, where she hasn’t repeatedly shit in the local well of human forbearance and understanding.

One would think, looking at Ex’s public persona, that she’s a very loving, caring, and devoted mom and wife. But yet, instead of taking care of her family, as she claims she does, she’s posting crap for the masses… especially for celebrities. And there always seems to be a hook for money, narcissistic supply, and some kind of prestige or recognition by people who don’t even know her, and will never even meet her.

As I mentioned up post, I find Ex to be a fascinating character. If I were a practicing mental health professional, I would probably alternately be amazed and frustrated by her. A psychiatrist or psychologist (or both) could write quite an interesting book about her. But I think the personal price they would have to pay to create such a book would be much too high to justify the effort. Still, she really is something… and I must admit, I’m probably too wedded to watching her in action. Maybe our trip will help refocus my attention to things other than Ex’s slip… and the facade she constantly puts up that is always slipping to show the ugliness underneath.

It must be exhausting to have to constantly create this fantasy world she lives in, along with the constant framing of the narrative so that people will believe that she’s really who she claims to be. There’s a very human part of me that feels empathy for Ex, and a smaller part that is kind of amused by her. But then I remember what she did to Bill, who is the best person I know, and I get angry again. So here I am, processing this shit on my blog for anyone to read. Maybe I’m no better than she is, but at least I am not passing this crap on to my children… because in part, thanks to her, I don’t have any. Well, I’ll at least try to keep things real. You may not like what you see in me, but at least what you see is what you get. I try to be honest and authentic, even if the real me isn’t always a pretty sight. I find that being that way keeps most of the malicious fuckers away from me.

Anyway, I don’t mind if my slip is showing. Remember, I like to go to nude German spas. Speaking of which, it’s time I closed this post and got on with my chores, so we can get on the road tomorrow. Have a great Friday, y’all.

Standard
book reviews, celebrities

Repost: A review of Going My Own Way by Gary Crosby…

Here’s a repost of a review I wrote on January 2, 2015 about Gary Crosby’s tell all book on growing up as Bing Crosby’s son, Going My Own Way. It appears here as/is.

For years, I heard about the controversial book the late Gary Crosby, eldest son of the late Bing Crosby, wrote about his parents.  The book, entitled Going My Own Way, was published in 1983 and was considered a “scathing” account of the reality of what it was like to grow up the son of a big Hollywood star who portrayed himself as the consummate family man.  I am a little too young for Bing Crosby, though I do remember the duet he did with David Bowie back in the 70s…

A classic Christmas duet circa 1977…

I didn’t actually see the Christmas special that spawned this version of “The Little Drummer Boy”, but over the years, the video has been replayed during the holiday season.  I also remember Mary Crosby, Bing’s daughter, who played Kristin Shepard on Dallas and was credited with shooting J.R. Ewing.  Aside from that, I only heard about Bing… and Bill has told me that a few years after Gary Crosby’s book came out, the late Phil Hartman, who was then on Saturday Night Live, did a spoof about how when Bing’s sons misbehaved, they needed to go have a “talk” in the library.

I was curious about the book and the cultural references to it, so I decided to purchase a used copy.  I recently finished reading Going My Own Way and, I must admit, it was very interesting.  As “scathing” memoirs go, I didn’t think it was all that bad.  Gary Crosby was Bing Crosby’s eldest son with his first wife, Dixie Lee.  He grew up in a huge house in Hollywood, surrounded by servants, many of whom were black.  Crosby’s mother was a strict disciplinarian and a serious alcoholic who relied on an Irish nurse named Georgie to keep Gary and his brothers, Phil, Denny, and Lindsay, in line. 

Like his wife, Bing Crosby was also a very strict disciplinarian who strongly believed in employing corporal punishment, strict rules, and verbal abuse to control his sons.  Crosby writes that it was difficult for him to have friends because his parents were so strict.  It wasn’t often that he was allowed to bring friends over or go to friends’ houses.  Crosby’s parents were quick to remind their sons that they were not special simply because they were Bing Crosby’s sons.  Though they were educated at private schools, they were not treated differently and didn’t hang out with Hollywood types.  Indeed,  from the time the boys were eleven until they were adults, each summer Bing Crosby sent them to work at a ranch he owned.  They learned how to herd cattle and make hay bales alongside men of much more modest means.  Crosby writes that he hated the ranch work because his father forced him to do it, though he might have enjoyed it a lot more if he’d been the one who chose to go. 

Gary Crosby had a weight problem when he was growing up.  His backside was wide, which caused his father to refer to him as “bucket butt” or “satchel ass”.  According to Gary, Bing would even call his son these names in public, particularly in front of Bing’s friends.  Bing Crosby ordered his son to lose weight and would force him to endure weigh ins.  If he didn’t lose weight, Gary would get a whipping.   Bing used a belt that had metal studs in it and would beat his boys until they bled.  At the first drop of blood, the beating would stop.  Gary writes that he used to hope he’d bleed early.  

Bing Crosby and Gary Crosby perform together…

When Gary became a teenager, he had a strict curfew and would often have to leave social events early in order to appease his father, who would not hesitate to use a belt and verbal abuse to get his point across.  It wasn’t until Gary was 18 years old and had finally had enough that the whippings stopped.  By that time, his father had traded the belt for a cane.  I must admit, reading that part of the book resonated with me.  I had a similar experience with my own father, who was also a proponent of physical punishment and last struck me when I was almost 21 years old.  My father was also one to use verbal abuse…  indeed, reading about some of Crosby’s experiences rang very true to me, since my dad did a lot of the same things to a milder extent.  Crosby also writes about his father’s penchant for womanizing and drinking, as well as holding gifts over his sons’ heads in order to control them.  Gary Crosby had his own issues with alcohol and drugs, which he writes about in the book.  He also was one to get in fist fights when the mood struck.

Crosby uses a lot of slang and filthy language in his memoir.  Personally, I wasn’t offended by it.  In fact, the slang sort of gave the book a 50s nuance, which makes sense, since Crosby was born in the 30s and would have been a young person in the 50s.  I liked that he included photos, which helped me put faces to his stories.  I also got the sense that despite the abuse, he did love his parents, especially his mother.  He even writes a message to his other siblings, products of Bing Crosby’s second marriage to Kathryn Crosby, that the father he knew was not the same man as the father who raised them.  And Crosby even admits that his father passed along musical talent to him and the ranch work gave him useful skills outside of show business.  As one who has a perverse interest in Pat Boone’s career, I liked that Gary Crosby also writes about what it was like to work with Boone.  Apparently, Crosby thought Boone was a nice guy and easy to work with, despite his love of “clean livin’.”  Pat Boone, as we all know, is also a big believer in spankings.

Gary and Bing sing with Frank Jr.

Gary Crosby’s mother died in 1952 of ovarian cancer.  At the time of Dixie Lee’s passing, Gary was studying at Stanford University, where he wasn’t a particularly good student.  I was moved by how he described his father’s pained reaction to his mother’s deteriorating condition.  Yes, he writes a lot about how “the old man” abused him and his brothers, but he also somehow manages to give his father a human face.  That’s why I say the memoir wasn’t that scathing.  Yes, it was probably shocking to those who grew up with Bing Crosby and loved his music, but as someone who also grew up with an alcoholic and occasionally abusive father, I thought Gary Crosby was just being honest.  I think back in the 80s, when this book was originally published, corporal punishment and verbal abuse were much more accepted as normal parenting than they are now.  While I think sometimes Americans are going a little too far in the other direction with how they are parenting their children, as someone who experienced growing up with an alcoholic, I feel like Gary Crosby was very truthful in his account.  He was not just a whiner.   

Gary Crosby died in 1995 of lung cancer. He was 62 at the time of his death and had married three times. You can read a chapter of Going My Own Way here. Here is an article from a 1983 issue of People magazine about Gary’s book.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
book reviews, LDS

Repost: Buttprints: The Thing that Wouldn’t Leave… (a review of You Can Smile Now You’re Rid of This A**hole)

Here’s another reposted book review. I read and reviewed this book on Epinions.com December 12, 2012. The author, who uses a pseudonym, has become a good Facebook friend of mine. We “met” on RfM some years ago. She’s really witty and funny, although her story is scary and cautionary. I am reposting it as/is.

I guess I should consider myself very lucky.  I met my beloved husband of ten years, Bill, on the Internet.  We did not meet on a dating site, though.  In fact, we started out as casual friends, having first “met” in a chat room based on a mutual interest.  Over the course of about three years, our casual internet friendship bloomed into love.  I have no regrets over having met my spouse online; though I do know that others haven’t been as lucky as I was.

I just finished reading You Can Smile Now You’re Rid of This A**hole: A Memoir of Abuse and Discovery by Bobbi Botaz (2012).  The title of this book, which I downloaded for my Kindle, pretty much says it all.  Like me, Bobbi Botaz got friendly with a man she met online.  Like me, she met her online boyfriend in person and ended up living with him.  Unlike me, she has many regrets for having met “Rick Doubledee” offline and allowing him into her life.

Botaz grew up Mormon, though she was definitely not one of the faith’s most devout followers.  She explains her upbringing as the book begins, perhaps shedding some light on why she has had such terrible luck with men.  It starts with unsatisfying high school dates, continues with a brief, loveless marriage that produces her son, Eric, and ends with Rick, the so-called “thing that wouldn’t leave”.  After a flowery and romantic online courtship, Rick moves from Pittsburgh to “Goldeneye”, a pseudonym for the Colorado town where Botaz was living in the late 1990s.  From the get go, it’s pretty clear that he’s not the man Botaz thought he was as he shows up in a beater of a car, stuffed to the gills with his worldly possessions.  Botaz and her son are both immediately repulsed by Rick’s slovenly appearance; yet incredibly, she lets him move in with her, where he lives and freeloads for the next two years.

I was astonished as I read about the things Botaz and her son put up with when Rick was living with them.  He was chronically unemployed and always had an excuse as to why he couldn’t support himself.  He claimed to be sick, yet had no issues eating Botaz out of house and home or smoking cigarettes.  Rick was a very “talented” con man.  Despite the fact that Botaz didn’t particularly enjoy her loser house guest’s company, she continued to let Rick live with her as she financially supported him, even when it became clear that he was dabbling in some risky behaviors that could have put Botaz and her son in grave danger.  As time went on, Botaz realized that not only had she put herself at tremendous risk, she had also put Eric at risk by letting Rick live there.   

As I read this account, I couldn’t help thinking to myself that something like this would never happen to me.  And yet, I have to wonder if maybe I could have been victimized as Botaz was.  Thankfully, she does eventually find the courage to give him the boot.  As he leaves her life, he says “You can smile now.  You’re rid of this a**hole”, gifting Botaz with the perfect title for her book about their miserable life together.  Unfortunately, his butt prints were still left in her sofa long after he’d gone.      

Full disclosure here.  I have interacted with the author of this book on the Recovery from Mormonism Web site and Facebook.  I think that gives me a bit more insight into her story than others might get just from reading You Can Smile Now.  Botaz has a wry sense of humor that comes through in her writing.  While I couldn’t help shaking my head in dismay as I read about how she allowed Rick to take over her life, I also felt relief that she and her son survived the ordeal.  Maybe Botaz wasn’t the most street smart Internet user in the world back in the late 1990s, but she did at least learn from her mistakes and is willing to share her experiences.  She also takes responsibility for her choices, which I think is very refreshing.  A lot of people would simply blame Rick for being an a**hole, but Botaz seems very cognizant of her part in this fiasco.  And again, she’s learned from her mistakes and seems determined to be smarter in the future. 

I think Bobbi Botaz has guts to put this story out there for the world, since I expect some readers will judge her.  But if her story serves as a warning for just one person– male or female– I think it will have been well worth the effort to read it.     

I recommend this book to anyone who has ever been tempted by an Internet romance and needs a cautionary tale.  I also recommend this book to people who like true stories about real people.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard