complaints, language, psychology, rants, religion

“Fike you!”

You might say today’s post is a bit of a rerun. It involves a certain relative of mine who has been “trying to clean up [his] vocabulary.” In his quest to quit cursing, he’s taken to replacing letters in certain swear words in an attempt to “improve” his language. Why he feels compelled to do this, I don’t really know. I can only guess.

I know I’ve written about this before. In fact, I’m just now looking up when I last wrote about this topic. I see it was exactly two months ago to the day– June 30, 2020, when I wrote about how my cousin referred to “chicken shot” instead of “chickenshit”. But that post was about a memory I found on Facebook in which he and I had butted heads over a National Rifle Association ad. This cousin– I routinely refer to him as “Timmy”, although that is not his real name– got into an argument with Bill and said that his argument was “chicken shot”.

Naturally, I rolled my eyes at that, since I think it’s a waste of energy to clean up one’s language in such a way. Words and language usage do matter, of course, but I personally don’t believe in “bad” words. All words, even the really offensive ones, have a legitimate usage somewhere. Every word can be used in a non-offensive way. That includes the infamous “n-word” that gets people riled up. Try reading a slave narrative without encountering that word. Try listening to Stevie Wonder’s brilliant song, “Living For the City” without that word. Even certain episodes of 70s era sitcoms employ the n-word in a way that is useful. Sometimes the right word really is one that shocks and offends. Aside from that, I have a serious problem with black and white thinking on almost any subject, as well as issues with authority. So when it comes to language use, Timmy and I will probably always butt heads.

But never mind the n-bomb. I don’t want to get into that discussion today. I want to write about my cousin’s use of the non-word, “fike”, and how it makes him seem kind of “fake” to me now. And that makes me sad.

Um… we all know you meant to say “fuck”. Just fucking say it already!

I don’t understand using a non-word like “fike” when it’s clear that one actually means to say “fuck”. In this instance, Timmy wasn’t even swearing. It’s not like he was saying “fuck you” to someone, trying to debase them. Even our sweet grandmother, a woman I never once heard utter a “bad word”, sometimes quoted her mother, who would swear on occasion. In my mind, Timmy wasn’t cursing in the above example. He was quoting someone else. Mind you, he also referred to using a weapon on someone who was cursing. Frankly, I prefer someone who swears, to someone who is overly casual about using weapons. Isn’t it a bit “fucked up” that Timmy writes that he would have shot more of them for using “bad language” and taking pictures? But he wants to clean up his “vocabulary”… Hmm…

Seems to me that if you change letters in a word so that it no longer spells the bad word, but it’s obvious that the bad word is what you really meant, you’ve actually accomplished nothing in your goal of “cleaning up your vocabulary”. The thought was still there, and we all know what your intent was. If Timmy really wants to upgrade his vocabulary, he should say something else or use a different, but legitimate, word in the “bad word’s” place. But I suppose that’s too much to expect from someone who thinks that guns are less offensive than four letter words are.

You see, Timmy used to be a lot of fun. Yes, he got into trouble a lot, mainly because he drank too much, got into fights, and brought his guns into places he shouldn’t have. He’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie, too, and I think that influenced him to put himself in situations that made life more difficult for him and his loved ones. But when he was younger, he was free-spirited and loving. I remember him as kind to me when I was a little girl. He used to be one of my favorite relatives. I rarely got to see him when I was growing up, because he grew up in Texas and I grew up in Virginia. It was rare that his parents would bring him and his brothers to Virginia for our annual Thanksgiving shindig.

Years later, when my uncle retired from full time work, he bought a home in Virginia and resettled there with his wife, who passed away about ten years ago. Timmy and one of his brothers followed their dad east. I got to see and know my cousins more… at least the ones who came east. For awhile, Timmy was still fun. But then one day, he publicly declared himself an alcoholic and found religion (although I’m not sure he’s found Jesus yet). And now he’s drunk on religion instead of booze. I’m glad he quit drinking. His drinking legitimately got him into trouble. But it seems that he’s now traded alcohol for being a religious wingnut.

I find Timmy hard to talk to nowadays, mainly because he’s adopted this holier-than-thou smugness and seriousness that he doesn’t used to have as much. He won’t say words like “shit” or “fuck”, and he’ll get upset when someone curses on his Facebook feed, but he’s ruder than ever in the way he talks down to people. I’ve seen him do it to Bill, but he is especially condescending to women– particularly women he thinks are too liberal. It’s clear to me that he looks down on people who are liberal and thinks he’s “smarter” than they are, to the point of not being willing to listen respectfully to what they have to say and learning from them, even if he disagrees.

Bill and I were talking about this yesterday. Bill thinks that sometimes, when people decide to change their lives by giving up vices such as drinking alcohol, they feel like they have to make amends for everything “bad” they did in the past. They worry excessively about offending God somehow, and they start going into overdrive, trying to become “better” people. But they don’t really recognize or change their behaviors, nor do they realize that by trying not to offend a perfect being (God), who should be above being “offended”, they annoy everybody else. They just change their obsession to something they think is more acceptable. In Timmy’s case, I think he traded boozing, cussing, and partying with being really pious, to the point of being obnoxious and insufferable.

I know that people involved in addiction recovery have a term known as “dry drunk” syndrome. Basically, it refers to a person who has stopped drinking or using drugs, but is still engaged in the negative behaviors and psychological maladies associated with their addiction(s), except for the drinking and/or drugging itself. One thing I’ve noticed among the alcoholics in my family is that they tend to be very controlling, overbearing, angry, and smug. That quality doesn’t go away when they stop drinking, although if I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure that any of the alcoholics in my family ever permanently gave up the sauce. I know my dad was never able to. But they know they have a problem with booze, which only adds to the guilt, frustration, and “demon” load they’re already bearing.

One thing I’d like to tell Timmy, though, is that carrying weapons and “shooting” people who swear and take pictures is not Christlike behavior. It’s all well and good that he wants to clean up his vocabulary. If he really means it, that’s commendable. But I would much rather hear him let loose with a blue streak of cursing than see him champion gun rights people who have no qualms about shooting people they think are “punks”. And to be very honest, I suspect that Timmy has certain people in mind that he wouldn’t have issues with dispatching somehow. He would never admit it, of course, but I know he holds certain people in disdain. Again, it’s not very “Christlike” behavior, nor is it an admirable attitude. I’m sure God appreciates that one of the world’s flock has decided to say “fike” instead of “fuck”, but I’m sure he’d rather Timmy cuss than be violent. But I suppose not taking take the Lord’s name in vain is easier than not wanting to be violent.

Anyway… I know that Timmy really meant “fuck” when he wrote “fike”. And seeing him write “fike” is annoying, especially when he claims he’s only trying to “clean up his vocabulary”. As a self-identified English language snob, I wish he’d simply find a more creative but legitimate way to say what he means and mean what he says. And I wish he’d stop glorifying guns as he proclaims his love for Godliness. It’s just a load of horseshit… or “chicken shot”, if he prefers.

Standard
Duggars, narcissists, politicians, Trump

What the Trumps and the Duggars seem to have in common…

I’ve been reading Mary Trump’s new tell all book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, all about growing up Donald Trump’s niece. I’m probably about halfway through it at this point. I also fell down a couple of YouTube rabbit holes yesterday. I found this lady’s Duggar centered channel…

Okay… it’s not actually Duggar centered. But she does have a lot of Duggar content.

Without a Crystal Ball is run by a dark-eyed, light-haired woman named Katie Joy. She has videos about a lot of shows, but I found her because she does a lot of Duggar videos. Somehow, YouTube knows I’m a sucker for Duggar videos.

As I was reading more of Mary Trump’s book this morning, it dawned on me. JimBob Duggar is probably a narcissist. So was Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father. So is Donald Trump. You can see by the way these men handle(d) their business that they are extraordinarily controlling, and they think they know more than they actually do. They don’t take counsel from other people, and those who are in their sphere know better than to cross them.

About an hour ago, over breakfast, I read a passage in Mary Trump’s book about how she had wanted to go to boarding school. Mary’s parents, Linda and Freddy Trump, had divorced, but even before their divorce, they were pretty much governed by Fred Trump, right down to Freddy’s being pretty much ostracized and disowned for deciding to be an airline pilot instead of going into the family’s real estate business.

The decision to allow Mary Trump to go to boarding school was to be decided by Fred Trump Sr., not Freddy Trump and his ex wife, who were Mary’s parents. Freddy served as a living warning to Fred and Mary Trump’s other children, not to cross Daddy. Freddy managed to get his father to consent to allowing Mary to go to boarding school (which was paid for with Freddy’s trust fund). The day before she was to go off to school, Mary went to her grandparents’ house to say goodbye to her dad. He was staying with his parents because, since the failure of his career as a pilot and disastrous stint in the real estate biz, Freddy had become an alcoholic. The alcoholism was so bad that it had destroyed his health. He got very sick and, with nowhere else to go, was forced to live in his old childhood bedroom.

When Mary reached the familiar back door to her grandparents’ house, she was greeted by her grandmother, who said her father wasn’t there. She was acting awkward and weird. Mary noticed, but didn’t press. Grandma Trump said she’d have him call her. Freddy never did call. Two weeks later, Mary was told she needed to call home. Her grandfather basically told her nothing was wrong and that she should call in the morning. Not believing her grandfather, Mary called her mom, who told her the sad news that Freddy had died of a heart attack at age 42.

When it came time to bury Freddy, Mary tried to let her elders know of her father’s final wishes. He had not wanted to be buried, and was very adamant about that. She had also wanted to see her dad before he was cremated. Not only was Mary denied the right to see her dad one last time, but after he was cremated, Fred Trump buried the ashes, despite Freddy’s wishes not to be buried. And when it came time to distribute his personal effects, Mary got nothing. Her brother, Fritz, got Freddy’s Timex watch.

So what does this story by Mary Trump have to do with the Duggars? Well… I have heard and read from many sources that Duggar kids go against their father’s wishes at great risk. Derick Dillard has gone against JimBob quite publicly and he and Jill quit Counting On, and Jeremy Vuolo has whisked Jinger away to Los Angeles. Sources reveal that both couples are a bit on the outs with Boob. Jill and Derick, for instance, are not allowed to go to the Tinker Toy Mansion without JimBob’s permission or presence. Jill had once been Daddy’s “favorite”. Now, she’s an outcast, but it looks like she’s embracing a more mainstream lifestyle. Same thing with Jinger. However, it appears that freedom comes with great cost.

I think Derick Dillard may contribute to Boob’s inevitable downfall.

If you’ve been reading my blogs over the years, you know that my husband was kept from seeing his daughters for many years, due to their narcissistic mother’s insistence that they disown him. In March of this year, Bill finally saw his younger daughter. It had been fifteen years, and younger daughter, now 26 years old, is finally able to make her own decisions. She seems to have come to terms with the idea that if she wants to live her own life, she may have to do so without contact with her siblings who are still on their mother’s side.

This is a common tactic narcissists use to stay in control of their relatives and others who are close to them. They handle the money, the major decisions, and set things up so that if you go against their wishes, disaster will strike. Or, even if disaster doesn’t have to strike, they train their relatives so that it seems like there will be a disaster that will befall anyone who leaves the fold. It’s not unlike being in a cult. That perception of impending doom can be very powerful. It takes a lot of courage and will to leave a narcissistic family system. It basically means you have to strike out on your own. And if you come from a really powerful family and have limited access to money or transportation, that can be an extremely daunting task.

In Freddy Trump’s case, being Fred Trump’s son meant that he couldn’t get loans, because his father was buddies with all of the powers that be at the local banks. That meant that instead of buying himself a nice house in Long Island, he was forced to live in a shitty, slummy apartment building owned by his father, that his father refused to fix. It meant that instead of doing the work he wanted to do, Freddy Trump was forced to work for his father, doing work that didn’t interest him. The hopelessness of it, along with those Scottish genetics from his mother, probably contributed to his severe alcoholism and eventual early death.

Jim Bob Duggar is probably not as powerful as Fred or Donald Trump, but he does have a lot of power. He owns many properties in Arkansas, has plenty of lawyers and money to pay them, and has trained an army of children, over half of whom are now young, healthy, strong adults. He also has their spouses, many of whom were kind of brokered into the Duggar family by their parents. It takes a certain type of person to marry a Duggar child… someone who will toe the line.

However, it’s plain that Boob failed to notice that Derick and Jeremy, and probably Austin Forsyth (Joy Anna’s husband), aren’t going to take his shit forever. But JimBob clearly sees as people in his family as slaves. He tries to “own” them. I can see that getting out of his clutches isn’t an easy endeavor, especially as the adult children have children of their own. Those children and their total dependence on their parents make it much harder for the Duggar adults to escape Boob’s narcissistic clutches and strike out on their own. There are a few exceptions, though. I think John David pretty much tells his dad to buzz off when he feels like it.

I’m mostly enjoying Mary Trump’s book… some of it is very sad, though. I get the sense that the malevolent streak in the Trump family doesn’t even so much come from Friedrich Trump, who ironically died in the last major world pandemic, back in 1918. He got Spanish Flu. It seems to me that the real culprit of the Trump nastiness came from Fred Trump’s mother, Elizabeth Christ Trump. She was the one who really got the business going, and, according to Mary Trump, she treated Fred’s Scottish wife, Mary, like dirt.

I’m sure it was tough for Mary Trump to decide to write this book. She basically reveals her family’s dysfunction for all that it is. Her Uncle Donald is, for now, one of the most powerful men on the planet, and he is royally fucking things up. It’s probably very embarrassing for her. She seems like a good and decent person with empathy and, in fact, it appears that most of the Trumps aren’t terrible people… just a few of them who have that malevolent, narcissistic streak that compels them to enslave and exploit people. I’m sure that Mary Trump might even fear for her safety after having written her book. I think she was brave to do it.

Likewise, I hope Derick Dillard or Jill, or someone else in the Duggar family spills the tea about JimBob. But then, I have seen his type enough times to recognize the behavior. I know he’s a narcissist and that his family members are mostly neatly under his thumb. I even remember someone on their reality show– can’t remember which one– saying that you don’t say no to JimBob. If you do, you might live to regret it. He’s a bully.

As for Without A Crystal Ball… I don’t know if I’ll keep watching her videos. I just happened to stumble across them a couple of days ago and they fit with today’s post. Hopefully, I’ll be able to review Mary Trump’s book soon.

Standard
book reviews, memories

Repost: Reviewing John Peale’s Just How Far From the Apple Tree…

This is a repost of a book review I wrote in 2015. The book was written by my former philosophy professor, Dr. John Peale. I am posting the review as it was originally written in 2015.

Yesterday, I posted about my old philosophy professor, Dr. John Peale.  My post was about my initial impressions of a book he wrote in 2012 called Just How Far From the Apple Tree: A Son in Relation to His Famous Father as well as a couple of memories I had of college, when he taught me.  I admit my first post about Dr. Peale is a bit critical and negative.  Having just finished his book, I think I can be a little less critical with my review, which is what I’m going to write today.  I found the second half of the book more engaging and interesting than the first part, which was mostly about his long academic road to being a full professor of philosophy at my alma mater, Longwood College (now Longwood University).

Dr. Peale’s book is mainly about his life and some of his experiences growing up the son of famed preacher and author Norman Vincent Peale.  He writes Just How Far From the Apple Tree as I would expect a professor to write.  His style is scholarly and somewhat formal, with no contractions or slang.  Though he does use the first person as he relates his life story, the book comes across as more than a bit dry.  There were a few times when I swore I read the same passage twice.  I hadn’t read the same passage twice; instead, Dr. Peale had repeated himself.  My guess is that this book didn’t get much attention from an editor.

The second half of Dr. Peale’s book, the part I hadn’t yet read when I wrote yesterday, shows a side of him that is more relatable to me.  In that portion, Peale comes down from the academic high horse and writes about things he’s faced.  I mentioned yesterday that Dr. Peale has battled cancer and alcoholism.  He writes that he has been diagnosed with cancer three times.  The first time was in 1991, after a trip to China.  His wife spotted a crusty lesion on his back that turned out to be melanoma.  I believe he was dealing with the melanoma when I had him as a professor.  Ever since 1991, he’s been living with cancer.

Dr. Peale is also an alcoholic.  Having read about his battles with alcoholism, I have a bit more empathy for him.  I grew up with an alcoholic father who exhibited a lot of the same behaviors Dr. Peale describes in his book.  In fact, in some ways, I think Peale’s situation was worse.  My father, to my knowledge, was never arrested for drunk driving.  Dr. Peale was stopped three times.  The first time was in 1971 in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.  A lawyer managed to get the judge to reduce the charges to reckless driving, sparing Dr. Peale’s record until many years later, when he got drunk in his office and decided to try to drive to Hampden-Sydney College.  He ended up running off the road and passing out in the car, where he was confronted by a police officer who spotted the almost empty bottle of gin next to him.

I must admit, I was surprised to read that Dr. Peale was caught drinking and driving, was arrested, and had come very close to spending the night in jail.  He was charged with a DUI and finally entered treatment, but continued to drink.  The third time he was stopped, the cop let him off with a warning.  It took a little later before he finally hit bottom and admitted his problem.  He went into rehab and joined Alcoholics Anonymous.  Unlike my dad, Dr. Peale was able to quit drinking entirely and has apparently been off the sauce since March 2000.  I applaud him for that.

Reading about Dr. Peale’s struggles with drinking reminded me of my dad…  finding him in various positions in a state of extreme inebriation.  Like me and my mom, Dr. Peale’s wife found her husband passed out more than once.  Like me and my sisters, Dr. Peale’s children had to deal with their father’s anger issues, much exacerbated by booze.  Dr. Peale writes that most alcoholics are angry people dealing with deep, unresolved pain.  I believe it.  I saw it firsthand in my own immediate family.  Dr. Peale’s pain apparently came from his experiences being his father’s son and feeling like he couldn’t measure up.  He writes that he once felt like his life amounted to nothing.  He didn’t appreciate or value his accomplishments.  He felt ashamed of who he was and drank to try to erase that feeling of shame and despair.  His story is one I can relate to. 

I think Dr. Peale’s book improves dramatically beyond the 45% mark.  The first part of it was off-putting to me and reminded of me of my in person impressions of him.  The second part, the part where he actually reveals part of himself that is painful and personal, redeems the effort that went into reading his book. 

Dr. Peale is obviously very committed to A.A.  He is one of the many people it’s worked for, although not everyone is as successful with it as he’s been.  I think it helps to believe strongly in God for A.A. to work.  Dr. Peale believes in a higher power and I think that, along with having a sponsor who is a good friend to him, has helped him overcome his addiction. 

Anyway…  I’m not sure his book is something that would appeal to a lot of people.  I think it could appeal to people who are interested in the Peale family, but only if an editor revised it and removed the redundancies and stiff, formal, academic style Peale uses.  However, as a former student who attended the university that employed him for so many years, I will say that I found some value in Just How Far From the Apple Tree.  If anything, it was a good reminder to me that everyone has a story and everyone is fighting a battle of some sort.  While I didn’t necessarily appreciate Dr. Peale as a professor, I can appreciate him more as an author. 

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon when purchases are made through my site.

Standard
condescending twatbags

Overbearing people are hard to bear…

Yesterday, I was on RfM and noticed that someone had bumped up an old post of mine from 2011. It was a rant I posted about “overly helpful” people. In those days, I had frequent dealings with a woman I only knew online who rubbed me the wrong way on a regular basis. I knew her from a message board that is now defunct, but the drama followed me to Facebook. Finally, in 2014, I blocked her. That decision wasn’t without drama, either. I remember when I finally made the decision to banish her from my online world, I said to Bill, “You just wait. Sometime today, I’ll get an email from her.”

Sure enough, later that day I did get an email demanding to know why I had blocked her. I don’t know about you, but to me, when someone uses the block button on Facebook, it means they don’t want to talk to you or hear from you. As I recall, I ignored her message. In earlier times, I had patiently responded to her, even though she bugged the shit out of me. I had finally had enough of her passive aggressive digs and obnoxiously overbearing comments, and realized that responding to her would only prolong the pain.

I was kind of amused to read that thread, especially since I remembered how I was feeling that day in 2011. She had pushed me to my wit’s end. At that time, the message board we were on was still active and I hadn’t wanted to abandon it, because I liked most of the women there. We were also both admins on the board, so we kind of had to “work” together. A few sympathetic people commented. I noticed that the person who bumped that thread to 2020 had similar issues as mine, which was why the thread was reactivated. These were the behaviors I had observed from her that were making me nuts:

* Chiming in with a “more informed” opinion whenever I’d try to express an opinion.

* Usually having some kind of unsolicited “helpful advice” or “fake concern” for me.

* Playing “devil’s advocate” or presenting a contrary opinion to any given subject I raise.

* Was rarely just supportive, but instead seemed to feel the need to “one up” everybody else and be the “voice of reason”.

* Doesn’t seem to understand or care how condescending and annoying she is to others.

In 2012, that message board where I had regular dealings with that overbearing woman mercifully went kerfluey, and most everyone moved to Facebook. It wasn’t long before I needed to unfriend the woman who had irritated me so much. I just couldn’t take her shit anymore, especially since I tried very hard not to engage her. Fortunately, that wasn’t a big deal. She didn’t seem to notice that I’d unfriended her, probably because we had so many mutual friends. She did her thing. I did mine. It wasn’t until November 2014, when she went too far with her disrespect that I finally pushed the block button. She’s been blocked ever since, and I don’t miss her at all.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about people like that woman. Overbearing people… especially overbearing women… really and consistently grind my gears. I’m not sure why I react to them the way I do. It could be because some of my family members are overbearing, domineering, and disrespectful to me and treat me like I’m stupid when I know I’m not. It’s gotten to the point at which I can barely stand to be around them. So now, when someone is like that to me, I tend to react negatively. If the behavior doesn’t change very quickly, the negative reaction turns into outright contempt. I may be obnoxious and opinionated, but I try not to dictate to people what they should or should not be doing in their own lives, especially when whatever they’re doing doesn’t affect me personally. I don’t like overbearing behavior in men, either, but they seem to annoy me somewhat less than women do. I find controlling women very offensive.

This morning I was thinking of all of the women who have been in significant conflict with me over my lifetime and I’ve noticed that the vast majority of them were very controlling and dictatorial, and quite a few employ manipulative, passive aggressive methods to get others to do their bidding. When those ploys don’t work, they become openly hostile, aggressive, and rude. And… I tend to respond in kind, because I resent being told what to do by people who aren’t necessarily any more qualified than I am in knowing what to do.

Maybe I’m just as bad as they are, though. It’s no secret that I’m loud and opinionated, and my father used to criticize me a lot for being “arrogant” and “bitchy”. Personally, I don’t think I was that arrogant as much as I was strong-willed and independent. My dad was a control freak, and he passed that trait on to a couple of my sisters. As a child, I put up with it because I had to in order to survive. As an adult, to some extent, I don’t really have to put up with it anymore. But I have found that I now have an unusual sensitivity to it… and if a woman is particularly bossy or intrusive to me, it’s a fair bet we’ll eventually have a conflict. Most of the time, it’s not worth trying to work things out with this type of person, because they think they’re right and refuse to compromise.

I remember back in 2011, when I was having regular dealings with the woman who had prompted that thread on RfM, she was pushing me close to the end of my patience. After she’d left me a shaming, demeaning comment on some topic we were discussing, I wrote something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, but whether or not you realize it, some of your responses to me are very offensive and condescending. It’s upsetting to me, and I feel like you’ve provoked me to respond in kind.”

The thing is, I had really thought about this response before I posted it. I tried hard to be assertive rather than aggressive. I wanted to enforce my boundaries without making things worse. I hoped she could see my side. But she was offended anyway, and didn’t see where she’d done anything wrong. Sure enough, I got a nasty private message in which she spat, “What was the point of apologizing if you were just going to insult me?!”

I remember taking a deep breath and trying, once again, to respond in a way that would not offend her, yet make her realize that I didn’t appreciate her condescending tone toward me. It didn’t work, and the bullshit continued apace for a few more years, with her continuing to feel free to send me private messages and unsolicited emails. The funny thing is, I don’t remember ever inviting her to correspond with me in such a way. She simply felt emboldened to do so.

Finally, about three years later, we reached the straw that broke the camel’s back. She’d left a nasty little passive aggressive dig in a Facebook comment to me. A mutual friend had posted about legalizing marijuana and asked her friends what we thought of it. The conversation was going well until I mentioned that Bill had lived with “pot head roommates” in college and hadn’t liked the way marijuana had affected them. He doesn’t like smoke, and as someone who works with the government, he’s not allowed to use recreational drugs, anyway.

So the passive aggressive bitch writes, “He’s never lived with alcoholics? 😉 😉 “

It’s possible that her comment was completely innocuous, but usually winking smilies imply a hidden meaning… and I had a feeling she was, once again, subtly insulting me, while trying to appear friendly and innocent. And truthfully, by that point, I had become very sensitive to her communications. Like… it was at the point that almost anything she posted irritated me, no matter how inconsequential. But I got the impression that my “frenemy” was trying to imply that Bill is currently married to an alcoholic, and that’s worse than dealing with potheads.

You see, it’s not a secret that I come from a long line of drunks. I drink, too. Maybe I’m even an alcoholic by some people’s standards. However, I have never met this woman in person and we have certainly never hung out over alcoholic drinks. Maybe my personality is because I drink. Maybe it’s simply the way I am. I don’t see how she’d know, since we never met offline. She seemed to be making an assumption or even a declaration that I have a drinking problem, even though we’ve not met and she’s not a mental health professional.

This wasn’t the first time she’d commented on my drinking habits– alcoholic or not. For some reason, she was unusually concerned about what I drink, even when the beverages weren’t boozy. This same woman often used to lecture me because I used to drink a lot of Diet Pepsi. She said that wasn’t healthy, and would frequently offer me an unsolicited laundry list of why it wasn’t something I should be doing. She’s right that diet sodas are bad for one’s health. I have since given up diet sodas, though not because of her “advice”… and I actually rarely drink non-diet sodas now. I mostly stick to bubbly water, if anyone’s curious. But yes, I do enjoy alcohol, and I admit it. Seems like that’s my business and Bill’s, unless I do something that affects other people negatively.

In any case, I’m certain that she knew her comment was shitty, demeaning, and insulting. It might have been one thing if we were friends and she was legitimately concerned. We weren’t really friends, and she was being rude, yet cowardly, as she was trying not to appear like she was insulting me. I didn’t appreciate it, and decided it was finally time for me to drop kick her off my social media once and for all. Even if she hadn’t meant it as a dig, that’s still the way it came across, and I was so tired of fielding those kinds of comments from her. And then predictably sending me an email demanding to know why I’d blocked her– as if that was some kind of serious affront because, according to her, she never does anything wrong— pretty much made me decide that we don’t need to speak again. I might have reacted differently if her approach had been more respectful, but demanding to know why she’s not allowed to harass me in my space is not cool. Taken alone, that comment was easy to ignore. Taken with all of her other little barbs and subtle insults over the years, it was just too much.

The funny thing is, that happened about five years ago, and I have found that I have even less patience and tolerance for overbearing women. I just feel like I don’t have to take orders from people to whom I am not somehow beholden. In other words, if you’re not paying me to work, someone I live with or love, or someone who has the power to arrest me or do something else life altering, I don’t have to do what you tell me to do. I don’t have to accept abusive criticism, insults, or covert hostility. And if you feel entitled enough to issue orders, act holier-than-thou, be hostile, or otherwise act like a passive aggressive creep, you can just fuck right off. Life is too short to deal with people who can’t be straightforward and civilized.

Anyway… I rarely think about her anymore, which is a good thing. I just thought it was funny that thread from 2011 was revived and so many people seemed to relate to it in 2020. I’m surprised it didn’t get more attention when it was a current concern. Clearly, I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Standard
book reviews

Review of Girl Walks Out of a Bar: A Memoir, by Lisa F. Smith

Once again, I’m reviewing a book I bought several years ago and just got around to reading. I purchased Lisa F. Smith’s 2016 book, Girl Walks Out of a Bar: A Memoir back in September 2016, and it was sitting in my Kindle, collecting virtual dust all this time. I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it, because not only have I finally gotten what I paid for, but I think it’s a hell of a book.

The Jewish daughter of a judge and a housewife, Lisa Smith has always been an overachiever. She got straight As in school, attended Northwestern University, and got a law degree at Rutgers University. After law school, she got a job at an international law firm in New York City and worked her ass off. Interspersed between her working hours, Lisa drank… and drank… and drank. She also snorted cocaine. The cocaine would perk her up after a long evening sucking down booze. The alcohol would help numb her to the pain of untreated major depression.

Lisa had a lot of friends… drinking buddies, who would join her on her benders. She attended a lot of parties put on by the law firm where she worked. She’d wake up feeling parched and nauseated, hands shaking from alcohol withdrawal, mind racing from whatever embarrassing incident might have happened while she was under the influence. She’d have a drink in the morning to settle her nerves, then snort some blow to help her look energized when she had to give presentations at work. When she finally showed up to detox at a locked psychiatric ward at a hospital called Gracie Square, Lisa was on the verge of drinking herself to death. Her friends were supportive… or, at least most of them were at first.

The trip to the hospital is where Lisa starts her story of overcoming addiction. She’d called her doctor, panicked and realizing that she was in real trouble. Even her doctor told her she was “fine”, until Lisa told him about her habits and that she’d been shitting blood. He recommended a hospital in Hell’s Kitchen, which Lisa vetoed out of hand. Then he recommended Gracie Square, which was in a more familiar neighborhood. Lisa called and was told to show up before eleven o’clock. When she arrived, she was told that by signing herself in, she would be required to stay for 72 hours. She agreed, until she saw the “detox” floor, where there were people fighting and yelling at each other. Because she was so scared, Lisa was allowed to stay on the “Asian” floor, on which all of the patients and staff were Asians.

Then, as she finally settles in with some Librium, Lisa goes back to the beginning of her story and explains how it all began. Apparently, Lisa’s childhood helped set her up for addiction to booze and cocaine. She’d had a food addiction, the caused her to get fat. She was teased in school, and a pediatrician told her that if she didn’t stop eating, she’d be big as a house. Lisa’s breasts got huge, so when she was in college, she visited a plastic surgeon who said she would reduce them if Lisa lost thirty pounds. She lost the weight, became “hot”, and started being noticed by men. She drank for courage. She drank to feel sexy and confident, or to forget her problems. It seems to me, this was when she started drinking habits that would land her in rehab.

She runs into a fellow lawyer from Pennsylvania, also a drinker. He’s Catholic. She’s Jewish. They hook up one night after a drinking session, start dating, and get married, seemingly on a whim. The marriage is a disaster, as she hates Pittsburgh and realizes they don’t have enough in common. The depression comes crashing down, augmented by the alcoholism. She goes back to New York City and picks up where she left off… back on the booze train.

Much of Girl Walks out of a Bar consists of Lisa’s stories about being drunk, a few of which are pretty funny. I had a good laugh when she describes being two drinks in when a date turns out to mostly be a teetotaler. She proceeded to get very drunk and high, landed in a heap on the floor, and was “helped” roughly into a taxi. Naturally, she never saw that guy again. Then there was the neighbor, “Mark”, who sort of befriends her. He’s younger than she is and lives in her building. They seem to be starting a relationship of some kind– more like, he wants it and she doesn’t. She kind of kicks him out when he suggests she might need rehab, but then he turns out to be a good friend to her as she gets sober. I felt a little sorry for him, since she seemed to use him somewhat.

Lisa Smith’s writing is witty and funny. She uses a lot of profanity, which some readers like and some don’t. Personally, I like a few good cuss words, especially when they’re liberally sprinkled in funny stories. My one complaint about this book is the way it wraps up. The author doesn’t share much about her journey to sobriety or her struggles staying sober. She finishes detoxing and makes it clear that she won’t be attending a 28 day residential treatment due to her work commitments and the lies she told to get a few days off for detox. Next thing you know, she’s going to A.A. meetings and getting her 90 day chip. She doesn’t share much about how she managed to fight temptation. Her writing about her sobriety is surprisingly less juicy than her writing about being a drunk and a cokehead, which makes the book seem off balance.

However… I still enjoyed reading Smith’s story, mainly because she seemed like someone I would enjoy knowing. She’s smart, funny, and very candid. Also… reading her story made me feel somewhat better about my own drinking habits. She was way worse than I’ve ever been… Basically, she spent ten solid years drunk every single day. It’s amazing that she was able to function, let alone work as a high powered corporate lawyer.

I have read better books about people with drinking problems. The late Caroline Knapp’s book, Drinking: A Love Story comes to mind. I also read Augusten Burrough’s book, Dry, which was one of those books that made me feel a wide range of emotions– from amusement to sadness. I think Girl Walks out of a Bar could have been better than it is. However, I’m glad I read Lisa Smith’s story, because ultimately, it’s a success story. It’s a fairly easy read that kept me engaged. If I were rating it on a scale of one to five, I think I’d give this book four stars. Had she expanded her story after she got sober– told us more about the struggle to stay away from booze and drugs, I could see giving her that fifth star.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon when purchases are made through my blog.

Standard