Bill, funny stories, karma

Repost: Bill and his Irish dark side…

Here’s a repost of a blog entry I wrote on July 15, 2018. At the time, we were visiting Dublin to see Paul Simon, James, Taylor, and Bonnie Raitt in concert. Yes, they were all performing in the same awesome show! I reread this story today, remembering our fun in Ireland, and the opportunity Bill got to right a wrong.

Like most everyone, my husband Bill has a dark side.  Sometimes it comes out inappropriately.  I’m usually surprised and amused when he says something egregiously shocking or mean.

Yesterday, after we had dinner and drinks at a local pub, we stopped by the Spar (Austrian mini mart) to buy some water and a bottle of wine.  We’d had several beers between us and a couple of whiskies, so we were feeling no pain.  As we approached the cash register, a very thin, bearded man standing behind us asked the cashier if the toilet in the store was working.

The cashier obviously lied and said, “No Mate, the toilet isn’t working.  Sorry.”

As we left the store, I said, “Well… that was clearly bullshit.”

Bill responded, “Right.  He probably should have said, ‘No, I don’t want you shooting up in our bathroom.'”

Just then, as we crossed the street, the guy passed us.  He turned and glared at Bill, who was mortified.  I don’t know if he heard Bill make that comment, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. Bill had kind of blurted it out in a normal tone of voice.  The toilet seeking chap did seem to send Bill a death ray with his eyes, which would make it seem like he’d heard him mock him.

It was kind of surprising that Bill was the one who made that crack.  Usually I’m the one who says stuff like that.  It wouldn’t have occurred to me to think that guy was a drug addict, though, or even homeless.  He hadn’t appeared to be homeless to my eyes.  In fact, he simply looked like a working person, which Bill and I have both been in our lifetimes.

Poor Bill is wracked with guilt, though.  In fact, while we were enjoying afternoon tea today, he said, “I feel awful about that comment I made.  I think I’m going to donate to a homeless shelter.”  Sure enough, after we finished having tea, we came back to our hotel room and he started researching charities.  

So many people would have just brushed off the incident, but Bill feels the need to repent.  Actually, I had the same thought that it might be a good thing to do– give to a homeless charity.  Maybe it will improve our karma.  I’m just glad no one whipped out a cell phone to record the incident and put it on YouTube.

This morning, as we were touring the Jameson’s Visitor’s Center, Bill was telling me how guilty he felt for making that obnoxious comment.  I have felt that way before and have made comments I later regretted.  Fortunately, I haven’t yet been caught on film.  As current events have shown us, though, it’s not hard to be caught having a bad day, saying or doing shameful things.  I know Bill isn’t a shitty person, but sometimes he does make shitty comments.  Don’t we all?

One time, we were walking into the German city of Ludwigsburg and we passed an enormous piggy bank in front of a bank.  The piggy bank has a name, though I can’t remember it at the moment (ETA: it’s Louise).  One can go inside of it and/or drop coins in it to be donated to charity.

It was 2014 and we hadn’t yet been back in Germany for long.  Bill said, “I wouldn’t want to go inside of that pig.  I’d be afraid someone would close the door and turn on the gas.”

Instantly, my mouth dropped open, since we were standing there in Germany, where people had once been rounded up to be gassed in concentration camps.  Bill, of course, hadn’t even thought about the concentration camps.  He was thinking of some book he’d read where people were killed that way– had nothing to do with Hitler’s era.  It was just a thoughtless comment, same as yesterday.  When he saw my facial expression it dawned on him that what he’d said was kind of shocking and potentially offensive.  It kind of revealed a dark side of a man who is usually one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know.  

Almost all of us have a dark side.  Some people are less ashamed of letting theirs show than others are.  I don’t think Bill needs to feel guilty, though.  Everybody fucks up sometimes.  And most people don’t feel the need to repent afterwards.  That’s what makes Bill such a special guy in my eyes.

Wish I were there.

EDITED TO ADD…

A couple of hours after I posted this, Bill and I went out into the city.  The Dublin area has been experiencing a drought for the past 40 days.  In fact, a significant archeological find was discovered recently thanks to the drought.  The New York Times reported on it.  Today, there was rain.  It’s been raining all day.  So after we tasted Irish whiskies, we came back to the hotel and had high tea.  Then we went to our hotel room, thinking we might not go out again.  But then I started to get a little hungry.

At about 6:30pm, we decided we might like to have some dinner.  I really wanted a Sunday roast or prime rib or something… but as we walked around the hotel, we found a number of places closed.  We thought about eating at a place that advertised tacos, but decided tacos in Ireland might be too weird.  So we kept walking and I decided to turn left at the first street we encountered.  I figured it would take us back toward the hotel where I knew we could get something.

Suddenly, just as we were nearing the end of the street, the same guy Bill had insulted yesterday popped into our path.  Looking more closely at him, I could see that he definitely was a street person.  He was very small and slender, with red hair and a beard, and obviously somewhat older than I’d originally thought he was.  He looked unkempt and was missing teeth.  It’s certainly possible he abuses drugs, but I can’t know for sure.  His appearance could be just as easily due to hard times or some other illness.  I don’t know if he recognized Bill, but Bill definitely recognized him. 

He said, “Do you have any spare change so I can get some coffee?”

Bill said, without any hesitation, “Yes, I do.”  And he pulled almost all of the change out of his pocket… about ten euros worth.  He said something had told him to carry it with him, while it was I who had decided to turn on that quiet street near our hotel.  We could have just as easily skipped dinner or had it at the hotel or the taco place.  But fate put us in the path of the guy Bill had insulted yesterday.

The guy was shocked as Bill gave him the change and the guy said, “God bless you,” as he accepted it. 

As we walked away, Bill’s eyes got teary and he started to look like Michael Landon during one of his more emotional scenes on either Little House on the Prairie or Highway to Heaven.  And then, as if things couldn’t get any more touching, there was a restaurant right in front of us specializing in beef dishes.  We stopped in and had a very nice dinner, topped off by a final nightcap in the hotel bar before we head back to Germany tomorrow.

Maybe this story means nothing to many people.  I have a weird knack for running into people, though.  I always have.  And Bill is a very perceptive and sensitive guy whose superego has a tendency to run amok.  It’s entirely possible that guy hadn’t even heard Bill’s snarky remarks yesterday, but I think both he and Bill ended up coming out winners in this situation.

Bill still intends to donate to a charity, too.  I think this trip will go down as one of our very best and most memorable.  I’m looking forward to writing it up, starting tomorrow evening.

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Ex

Buying into fantasy to escape the horrors of reality…

Tonight will be our last night in Slovenia. We didn’t do much yesterday, because it was rainy. We did manage a short drive, and I got a few photos of the countryside, but then we determined that we didn’t feel like hiking where it’s all cold and soggy. So we came back to our rental house and ended up watching YouTube and a few episodes of the latest season of The Handmaid’s Tale, which Bill hadn’t yet seen. Naturally, the episodes haunted my dreams, even though we also spent the day drinking Slovenian wines.

We also did a lot of talking. Our 19th anniversary is coming up, and the years have gone by very fast. But I am also amazed by all that we’ve been through. Everybody has challenges, and I don’t feel like, overall, ours have been that horrifying. I mean, sure, we went through a few years of being broke. Bill’s job could be stressful at times. I had to cope with the fact that I was never going to be a successful careerist in my own right, nor would I ever be a mom. We have also moved many times, and to date, have never owned a home together. Bill left the LDS church, which was kind of traumatic in some ways, though not as traumatic as it would have been if he’d been a very devout member. He also went to war, which was difficult for us on many levels, although it’s something that most military families of the last couple of decades have had to deal with, often repeatedly.

But, we’ve had our share of successes, too. We get to travel a lot, to some really beautiful places. We have built a pretty good financial bedrock. I paid off my student loans, and Bill repaid the severance he got when he left active duty in 1995 and later came back. He gets a full retirement now, plus a paycheck. Bill re-established a connection with one of his children… That has been a genuinely rewarding experience. It’s also a reminder of something that is truly shameful and horrifying. Bill never thought he’d ever be completely estranged from his children.

I used to write a lot about Bill’s ex wife, mainly because what she put him through was just so strange and awful that I couldn’t fathom it. I had to write about it to make sense of it. I left a lot of my thoughts public. Sometimes doing that invited criticism from the uninformed… people who wrongly assumed that Bill’s former wife is a “normal” person. The fact is, she’s not. She puts up a good facade, though. If you don’t know her and haven’t been the subject of her “campaigns”, you could come away with the idea that she’s basically a regular person. It’s not until you see beneath the surface that you realize that she’s not playing with a full deck. And that has been a strain on us… or, at least it was a strain earlier in our marriage.

Bill and I have both decided that we’re probably not ever going to break up. We say that now, after 19 years of marriage, and we mean it. We’re very compatible, and we’ve seen each other through some tough times. Neither of us wants to look for new partners. I, for one, never want to plan another wedding in my lifetime.

Ex mostly doesn’t come up anymore. When she does come up, it’s as kind of a joke. But sometimes, we do still have serious conversations about her, because Bill talks to his younger daughter, and Ex is Bill’s daughter’s mom. Ex treats her children as badly as she eventually does everyone. Bill and I have the luxury of not being blood relatives of Ex. Ex’s kids don’t have that luxury.

A few days ago, I noticed that Ex had tweeted Mark Hamill, of Star Wars fame. I have never seen Star Wars in its entirety. I know that makes me odd, given when I grew up. It’s not that I don’t like science fiction, either. I loved Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. I just never got into Star Wars. Ex, on the other hand, is apparently a super fan. And she apparently tweets Mark Hamill a lot.

I noticed that she responded to one of Hamill’s tweets about not wanting to contribute to fundraisers, because he never knows if they are legitimate and he’s been “burned”. Ex tweeted that he was absolutely “right” not to contribute to crowd funding pleas. Then she asked how she might be able to raise money to buy a service dog for her son, whom she claims has severe autism. And just to be clear, I’m sure he does have autism, but I’ve never met him and don’t know what challenges he faces, so I don’t feel comfortable writing anything about him as “fact”. I only know what I’ve heard and read, and seen in Ex’s public photos.

I have heard a lot of stories over the years and have corroborated a lot of them with proof. For example, I know that Ex’s current husband had animal abuse charges levied against him in the state of Arizona. I had heard about what happened to the elderly poodle Ex and Bill had inherited from Ex’s adoptive father. The story went that #3 got very angry one day and kicked the dog so hard that she lost an eye. Years later, I looked up the charges, which were publicly posted on Arizona’s court site. Sure enough, #3 had animal abuse charges, no doubt stemming from the incident with the dog, which happened before they were married. #3 now has a job working with people who are vulnerable. I don’t know if he’s gotten his anger under control, but I sure wouldn’t want him taking care of me or anyone else I care about or love. And I wouldn’t want him in the same house with a pet, let alone a highly trained service dog.

In fact, had he been my boyfriend/fiancé and kicked my dog, I would not have married him. I would have been afraid of what he was capable of doing to our future children. The fact that Ex already had three children by two men, both of whom she denied visitation rights to and actively alienated the children against, would have already been a red flag to a prospective husband. It sounds to me like Ex also had reasons to be concerned about #3. He’s capable of violence.

I don’t know why Ex’s son might need a service dog. It’s possible a service dog might be good for him. However, it’s my guess that the dog would really only be a source of prestige and attention for Ex. And the first time the dog crapped and she had to clean it up, or the dog needed vet care and it cost her hundreds or thousands of dollars, her enthusiasm for the dog would wane. She would also have to commit to working with the dog and having it properly trained. And given the fact that my husband’s 30 year old daughter still lives with Ex, does all the cleaning and probably the cooking, and takes care of her little brother, I have a feeling that a service dog would eventually be one more thing for Bill’s older daughter to do.

I think about a terrible news story I recently read about a disabled, homeless veteran in North Carolina who had a service dog. He was confronted by the police for “panhandling” and eventually got arrested. His dog, Sunshine, who had been given to him to help him with his PTSD, tried to defend her master. She was Tasered and got away, where she was eventually struck and killed by a car. The homeless vet, who had done tours in Kuwait and Iraq with the Kentucky National Guard, did have some serious issues with mental illness and addiction. He had been in trouble with the law before. But he also had mental health concerns that were not being adequately or compassionately treated by competent people. While I would never say that a person should abuse drugs or alcohol, I also know that some people abuse them as a way to cope.

Ex’s son is now a teenager and, in a few short years, he’ll be an adult. I don’t know what the plans are for him when he’s a grown man. I have heard that it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to live on his own. Maybe, with the right guidance from professionals, he might benefit from having a service dog. But given what I’ve heard and seen from Ex herself on her very public social media pages, I have my doubts that the lad is going to get what he needs. I hope older daughter will eventually move out and have her own life, too. I think it’s possible Ex’s son could put a service dog at risk. He could be like that man in North Carolina someday.

Ex was tweeting Mark Hamill, asking for advice on how to get a service dog. On the surface, it looked like a honest and even honorable request. But if you know anything about her, you know that a service dog would probably be in hell in her household. It would be just one more tool for her to use in her social engineering strategies against other people. I suspect, as well, that as soon as the dog did something that Ex or #3 didn’t like, or inconvenienced them in some way, the lustrous prestige of having a special dog would vanish.

We’ve enjoyed our vacation so much that I put the horror of the idea of Ex having a service dog out of my head. But then I happened to notice her Halloween posts. Ex decided to take her son trick or treating. I know that in Ex’s house, animated movies and children’s books are very popular. She likes Disney, for instance. During the one and only time Bill’s daughters were allowed to visit us, the girls watched Snoopy Come Home, which is a favorite from my own childhood. Actually, if I’m honest, I was pretty traumatized by that movie when I was about 6 or 7 years old. But, since I am a dog lover, I bought the film on videocassette.

When we first got married, Bill told me that Ex acted a lot like Lucy Van Pelt. She had a habit of figuratively pulling the football away just as he was about to kick it at her encouragement.

Ex is probably not as smart and wily as Lucy Van Pelt, though…

Well… for Halloween, Ex went with a Peanuts theme for her son. She came up with a costume that was inspired by Charlie Brown, a boy who always seemed to be the butt of everyone’s jokes, even if he’s the “star” of the Peanuts cartoons– next to Snoopy, that is. And poor Charlie Brown historically had tough Halloweens. People always gave him rocks instead of candy. They knew, even under the holey ghost costume, it was Charlie Brown, the “loser”, and they gave him rocks.

Even in his costume, Charlie Brown is a “loser”.

Ex dressed her son up like Charlie Brown on Halloween. He carried a sign that said something along the lines of, “All I got was a rock.” Ex wrote that people didn’t seem to get the joke. That’s probably a good thing, when you consider that she was parading her apparently severely autistic son around– a boy who is supposedly “non-verbal” and may never live on his own– as Charlie Brown, the butt of everyone’s jokes who can’t make a simple ghost costume and always gets rocks from his neighbors.

As I mentioned before… I have never met her son. I don’t know what level of functioning he’s attained. She did publicly state that he was capable of uttering a carefully rehearsed line to anyone who asked about his costume– “I had some trouble with the scissors.” She implied that it took some time to teach him that line, which makes me wonder if there are issues with his intellect. But again, I don’t know. I do think it’s kind of strange to publicly declare so much love for a child, but then dress him up as an obvious “loser” for Halloween, laugh at the spectacle of it, and then tweet it publicly. Maybe Ex thinks of it as “harmless fun.” And, to her, it surely is– maybe it also is to strangers who don’t know anything about her or her children. For the boy, I’m not as sure… If he gets the joke and agrees with it, okay. But if he doesn’t get it, and has just been unwittingly made the butt of a joke– scoring laughs for his mother at his own expense– maybe not.

Actually, I’m reminded of a classic episode of the 80s sitcom, Gimme A Break, when the character, Joey, is unwittingly used as an object of aggression toward Nell Carter’s lead character, Nell Harper. Youngest Kanisky daughter, Samantha, is angry with Nell for giving Joey so much attention and usurping her role as the baby of the family. Samantha takes advantage of Joey’s naïveté and puts him in blackface before he performs an Al Jolson song, “Toot Toot Tootsie” at Nell’s Black church.

This was a very powerful episode… but as you can see, Samantha took advantage of a younger, more innocent child who didn’t know what she was up to. He thought the blackface would make the act better and willingly went along with it, not knowing that it would be insulting and humiliating for a lot of people.
Here’s the episode in its entirety. Joey’s blackface performance starts at 16:30. Maybe blackface isn’t the same as dressing your autistic child up like Charlie Brown, but the point is, Samantha took advantage of Joey’s naïveté. In a similar way, Ex does it to her son… and really, to anyone in her sphere. She did it to Bill, too, on many occasions.

Blackface, of course, would obviously be much worse than the Charlie Brown costume is. In today’s culture, blackface is clearly offensive, and everyone would get how offensive it is. The Charlie Brown costume is more subtly humiliating, especially for a boy who may not realize that he’s being made the object of derision by his own mother. Now… if the boy chose the costume himself and has the capacity to understand the implication of wearing it, okay. But I doubt he does or did… I think, once again, Ex used someone else to get her jollies… to make herself feel better for what, apparently, hasn’t turned out to be the fantastic life she envisioned for herself.

Bill has often told me that his former wife lives in kind of a “fantasy world”. She expects everyone else to buy into that fantasy. If they can’t or won’t, she casts them out. And that would be fine, if there weren’t innocent and vulnerable people involved. But there are children involved, as well as well-meaning adults. Also, it must be a special kind of weird to live with someone who surrounds herself with relics from childhood– books, movies, music, etc.– as if she wants a redo of her childhood. But then she does obviously abusive and cruel things.

I noticed that she responded to someone who apparently criticized her for “fat shaming” someone. She came back with an explanation of sorts, and ended with “please be kind.” I have been married to her ex husband for nineteen years. In that time, I have witnessed her ostracizing Bill from his daughters and ex stepson, whom he raised as his own. I have seen her ostracize Bill’s mom, who is a lovely person, and threaten to cut off Bill’s more “suitable” stepmom and father from their grandchildren. Ex wouldn’t even let Bill speak to his daughters before he went to war in Iraq.

I have heard stories about her forcing her daughters to give up their beds for another family, solely so she could look better to church members. I have seen her make her children disown their fathers and change their surnames. She influenced Bill’s ex stepson to take back his original surname just to punish Bill for standing up for himself. She allowed her daughter to show up at college with just the clothes on her back. She didn’t support her daughter in her efforts to become independent, and she raised her in a religious environment that was easily weaponized to alienate Bill, who decided to resign. Then, when the church was no longer useful to Ex, she tried to take it away… I’m still no fan of Mormonism, but I will always be grateful to the good church members who helped Bill’s daughter when she needed help. And I love that the decision to become LDS blew up in Ex’s face.

I know for a fact that she physically and sexually abused Bill. There is physical evidence of it that was noted by a physician.

She tried to force me to “dance to her tune”, too. When I refused, she told the children that I was a whore who broke up her marriage. She didn’t put it in those terms, but that was the message. And it was a fucking lie. She also told her children that their father didn’t care about them and just “up and left”. Also, not true. She told his mother that he’s an “abusive pervert who hates women”. I can attest that after 19 years of marriage, that isn’t true.

Ex uses people for her own ends. It’s bad enough to do that to an adult. It’s criminal and undeniably cruel to do it to a child, or to a person who has limited cognitive abilities. And then she shares what she does publicly on Twitter and invites the world to laugh at her son… who may, or may not, get the joke.

Anyway, I know it’s none of my business. And for a long while, recently, I wasn’t paying attention to Ex. But, like I said, she comes up on occasion, because Bill is now speaking to his younger child, at long last. And sometimes, I have to prove to myself that these horrors are real… stuff I’ve heard about for over 20 years now. She continues to get away with it, too… and there’s not much I can do about it but sit here and ruminate… and wish to God that Bill had met me first.

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musings

Regrettable decisions…

The other day, I was messing around on YouTube and I noticed that I was getting suggestions to watch videos by Dhar Mann. I don’t really know who Dhar Mann is… I can only surmise after watching a couple of his videos that he’s some kind of guru who teaches people to be kind and compassionate and gets people to attend his talks by giving them money.

Interesting that this video was shared during a time when people are being encouraged to socially isolate…

Don’t get me wrong. This video is, overall, sharing a good message. I have been in Chelsea’s situation, although I’m not nearly as big as she is, and no one was ever that overtly nasty to me. It happened to me about eleven years ago, when Bill and I were in Germany the first time. We went to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, because Bill had to go to a conference at the Edelweiss Conference Center down there. I entertained myself by taking “field trips” with the tour service.

Although I had been on the tours before, prior to that summer trip, we had always visited in the winter, and the tours were a lot less populated. Consequently, I was surprised by how packed they were when I took them during that week we were in Garmisch. Every seat on the bus was taken, except for one by me. Some guy sat next to me and barely made eye contact with me all day. He seemed to radiate hostility, just because he didn’t get to the bus early enough to get a seat with his family and he had to sit next to me. I remember thinking he was a major asshole. I wondered how he would felt if some random guy treated his wife the way he treated me that day. And, just because I’m admittedly not always such a kind person myself, I wished for him to get a flat tire on his way home.

Anyway… since I watched the above video, I see I’ve been getting more of Dhar Mann’s stuff on YouTube. They all seem to have the same theme and use the same actors. The mean bitch in the above video plays a selfish, skanky homewrecker in another video. Dhar Mann presents scenarios that depict people making selfish, short-sighted, mean spirited decisions that bite them in the ass later. Or the characters gain new perspective somehow when new information comes to light– things are not always as they seem.

Oops! Richard got caught with his pants down. That actress plays “bitchy” very well.
But she’s not bitchy in this one.

I can kind of relate to the video below. I can see why Evelyn’s ex divorced her. She’s nasty and vindictive. But when the ex husband gives his ex wife a bit of perspective, she simmers down and the video ends on a (probably unrealistic) optimistic note.

Cindy is probably a much nicer stepmom than I would have been, though.

Evelyn is nicer than Ex is, by a very long measure. Ex literally hates me. She wishes me ill. For a long time, I pretty much felt the same way about her. Now, I’m at the point of not caring about her anymore. I never thought I’d get there, but Bill’s ability to reconnect with his daughter has “softened” my heart somewhat. I still think she’s awful for alienating her children and using them as weapons. I still think she’s done a lot of reprehensible things, not just to Bill, but to her own offspring and even her current husband and other family members. But I don’t think about her very much anymore. I think karma has had its way with her… and that’s kind of what Dhar Mann seems to be preaching in his many YouTube videos. They’re kind of cheesy and simplistic, but they convey good messages, on the whole.

Being kind is a good thing. I think it’s better to be kind and understanding whenever possible. On the other hand, sometimes it’s necessary to be less understanding and kind. You don’t have to go out of your way to screw someone over, but you can be assertive and let people experience the natural negative consequences when they do something shitty. Sometimes, that’s the best way to teach people how to behave. My husband is one of the kindest, most considerate people ever, but if you cross his red line, there will be consequences. Fortunately, it takes a long time to get to that point. You really have to mess up on an epic scale. And he’s never nasty about it, either. He just defends himself, as anyone who’s made a living fighting wars will do. People are fooled by him because he’s so nice and accommodating, but he’s had a successful career as a soldier. When it comes down to it, he will do what soldiers are trained to do.

Dhar Mann’s videos are obviously very popular. He has a lot of followers and a whole lot of videos that show how it’s best to be kind and decent. Sometimes, there’s stuff you don’t know about going on that makes a person seem one way when they aren’t really that way. On the other hand, sometimes a hat is just a hat… and a hate is just a hate. And you don’t have to be nasty to combat it, but you shouldn’t be expected to turn the other cheek for that kind of treatment. Paybacks can be a real bitch.

One more for the road… Another bitch getting her ass handed to her for being a bitch.
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