family, funny stories, love, marriage, memories

Pulling passive aggressive pranks that get under dad’s skin…

Today’s featured photo is a screenshot of Carmen Miranda.

Hee hee hee…

I had quite an epic laughing fit this morning. You know when you laugh so hard you feel like passing out, or throwing up, or peeing on yourself? That’s the kind of laughing fit I had. It was all because of Bill. My stomach muscles were actually quaking as I forced myself upstairs to calm down.

Bill and I were having a conversation about the meaning of life. I told him I thought maybe I was born to be his companion and dispense wisdom to him. He said, “You share wisdom with others, too. What about that woman who was on the Montel Williams Show and wrote to you when she saw your article about mycophobia?”

Bill was referring to my weird phobia of mushrooms, that I have had since I was a toddler. It’s a problem that has dogged me my whole life, exacerbated by my mean-spirited family members who did things like chase me around the house with mushrooms and draw shark teeth and fangs on illustrations of mushrooms in my coloring books.

I know my phobia is ridiculous; that’s what makes it a phobia. I have an irrational fear of mushrooms, and people have laughed at me my whole life because I can’t even bring myself to touch one, let alone eat one. I don’t like looking at them or smelling them. But, at least I’m not as phobic as I was when I was very little. I used to have full on panic attacks when I found them growing in our yard in England, complete with screaming, hyperventilation, and being frozen in terror. Yeah, I am serious. I don’t do that anymore, thank God, but I might if you try to make me touch a mushroom.

Suddenly, I was reminded of the time I went off on one of Bill’s dickheaded ex colleagues, because he was laughing at my phobia. Granted, we were at a Biergarten, and both of us were quite inebriated, because the party was funded by the loose change left by a departed boss. It was over 900 euros worth of coins, and we didn’t even drink enough to use it all up… When the company lost its contract, everybody was basically out of a job. That was when Bill got hired by his current employer, which also hired– and later fired– his ex colleague. Like I said, he’s a dickhead, so it’s not surprising that he got fired.

In any case, this guy was laughing at me at the Biergarten because I have mycophobia, so I cussed him out in a very vulgar and profane way. It was almost like I couldn’t help myself. The guy’s wife was standing nearby with their young son, who was probably about twelve or thirteen years old at the time. Her mouth was agape in horrified shock at my language. Her husband, though, the dickhead on the receiving end of my tirade, was oblivious, and still laughing at me. I remember leaving the gathering still really steamed. I never forgot that guy, even though I killed plenty of brain cells that night and shouldn’t have remembered the incident.

This morning, we were talking about my mycophobia, and how many people had enjoyed the article I wrote about my experiences. I got a lot of comments on that piece. Bill reminded me that the lady who had been on Montel Williams had even found the post. She wrote me an email about her own experiences. Bill said, “I’ll bet that was comforting for her. Someone else has the same problem she has.” Actually, I was comforted seeing her on the show, since she was reacting very much in the same way I used to when I was very young. Montel actually got her to eat a mushroom. He would not have been able to get me to eat one, because he did it by kissing her. I don’t like to kiss people on the lips. I don’t even kiss Bill that way.

So anyway, I brought up his old dickheaded colleague, and Bill started talking about the guy’s son, who had witnessed my profane outburst at the party. The kid is VERY intelligent. I remember that he was speaking near fluent German to our waitress. He goes to a private school and is being taught in a European style. I suspect he’ll someday go to a very fine university. I remembered that he was used to hanging around adults. In fact, I recall that a few years ago, the young man pissed off Bill’s former boss’s wife, who had wanted him to sit at the kids’ table. Dickhead’s son cheekily told Bill’s boss’s wife that he didn’t HAVE to sit at the kids’ table. His DAD had told him he could sit with the adults.

I remember Bill’s former boss’s wife drunkenly vented to me about how insolent she thought the lad was. At the time, I probably responded with sympathy. However, after being around the kid a few times, I realized that he was right. He was basically 13 going on 30, and didn’t need to be hanging out with kids. I don’t think I’ve ever met a more “adult” child in my life.

Bill said that the boy is very clever, and likes to get under his dad’s skin by doing passive aggressive things that are also hilarious. He told me that one time, the dickhead was describing how his son had deliberately pissed him off. As dickhead told Bill the story about his son’s passive aggressive antics, he was kind of chuckling. But it was clear to Bill that he was also still kind of pissed about what his son did. This is where I started laughing so hard that I literally thought I was going to faint.


Oh my GOD!

Bill said that dickhead is homophobic, and he didn’t like it when his son acted in an effeminate way. He would go out of his way to discourage his son from doing “girly” things. So one day, after a shower, the boy wrapped a towel around his whole body (as opposed to just his waist), and put another towel on his head, turban style. Then he started dancing around his dad like Carmen Miranda would, just to be annoying.

The mental image of that was so funny to me, especially as I imagined dickhead’s reaction to it, that I about fell apart with laughter. I haven’t seen or talked to either of those guys since the night I cussed out dickhead, but I remember how bright the kid is… and what a dickhead his dad is… and I have a feeling that he probably pisses his dad off regularly! The thought of that delights me! I say, all smart-assed passive aggressive kids unite! Kudos to the boy for even knowing who Carmen Miranda was!

The only passive aggressive thing I used to regularly do to my dad, was deliberately ask him questions whenever he sang or hummed in front of me. I did that because I hated it when he sang and hummed, and asking questions forced him to stop singing. His voice was like nails on a chalkboard to me. I don’t know why. A lot of people thought my dad had a lovely singing voice. I was definitely not among them. I used to get in trouble because, when I was very little, I would put my fingers in my ears whenever he sang solos in his many choral groups and church choirs.

I probably didn’t like his singing because he would often try to sound like someone he wasn’t, like when he would mimic opera singers like Luciano Pavorotti. My dad was not trained, and didn’t even read music. He could sing on key, but he was not an opera singer. So, to me, he just sounded like he was very constipated when he would try to sing like Pavorotti. And I really didn’t like it when he hummed. It was very annoying to me. My reactions to my dad’s singing voice are a major reason why I didn’t start singing, myself, until I was 18 years old. Even then, I only did it for a college general ed requirement. It took awhile before I would do it publicly.

But in spite of my disdain for his singing voice, my dad often got solos in church, so I endured a lot of his performances. He further pissed me off when I decided to study voice as a means to help me get over clinical major depression. I deliberately didn’t tell him about the lessons for a long time, because I knew what he would do. Sure enough, he got wind that I was taking voice lessons and decided to take lessons from the same fucking teacher. Yeah… we had a rather rocky relationship.

Or maybe I was laughing because I thought of this hilarious scene from Three’s Company.

I sure did need that laugh. It was like a full on circuit of sit ups– my muscles actually hurt. Last Sunday, I spent the day pissed off at my cousin, and at Bill, because he went TDY. This Sunday, the endorphins are rushing because I had a much overdue belly laugh… If I could do that every day, maybe I’d lose my beer gut.

I don’t know how the dickhead and his son are getting on these days, but I have a feeling that the lad could be a chip off the old block. It delights me to think that he does creative and funny things to get his dad’s goat. I wish I had thought of something that genius when my dad was still living. It would make for great family story lore. And now, I’m going to be laughing about teenaged boys dancing like Carmen Miranda for the rest of the day. It’s like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon!

psychology, true crime

What makes someone an authority?

Yesterday’s debate about the legitimacy of Mary Kay Letourneau’s relationship with her ex husband and former student, Vili Fualaau, made me do some thinking. The two women on RfM who insisted that Letourneau was irredeemable and deserved no mercy were actively shutting down anyone else’s opinion, even going to the point of accusing commenters disagreeing with them of being “rape apologists”. After awhile, a man joined in the fray, also agreeing with the women. He left me a comment, even though I was “out” of the active discussion.

The man who left me a comment claims to be a victim of sexual abuse. In his comment to me, his very first question was “Were you a victim of sexual abuse?” He followed it with several statements about his experiences as a sexual abuse survivor, as if that made him some sort of expert on the subject.

I’m not sure what he was expecting my answer to be. My guess is that he assumed I have not been abused, and therefore could not relate to the experience. But, in fact, there is sexual abuse in my past. I have written about some of it in this blog. The rest, I prefer to keep private, because it’s really no one’s business. I also suspect that some of my memories of it may be repressed. I don’t remember anything truly awful happening to me on the level of rape, but for some reason, I’ve always had a very hard time trusting men. I’ll just leave it at that.

The other two commenters qualified themselves too, as they rabidly took anyone to task who didn’t cheer about Mary Kay Letourneau’s death from colon cancer. They seemed to be working as a tag team. Perhaps they know each other offline. One of them claimed the other has a law degree from a very prestigious university out west. Maybe she does, although one might wonder why she spends so much time on a message board for ex Mormons if she’s a brilliant lawyer.

On the other hand, I’m “overeducated” myself for my lot in life. Maybe people don’t believe that I did any time in graduate school. It’s not like I carry my diplomas in my purse. Either way, I only know about them what they post, just as most people only know about me what I post. There’s no proof of their claims about their credentials, although both women (I assume, based on their monikers?) are clearly very articulate and intelligent. Both are quick to argue with other posters with an air that they’re always right, regardless of the subject.

For whatever’s it’s worth, Rolling Stone magazine also agrees with them that Mary Kay Letourneau was a terrible person who was romanticized by the press. I can agree that the press did kind of make Mary Kay out to be more sympathetic than perhaps they should have, particularly back in the late 1990s, when this was hot news. There was even a made for TV movie done about her.

Penelope Ann Miller was a good casting choice. As to the movie itself, it’s been years since I saw it.

A couple of years ago, there was a documentary about Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau. I remember watching it and thinking Mary Kay came off as less of a predator and more as someone with serious organic mental illness. However, given what she did, there is no doubt that legally, she was guilty of child rape, which is definitely wrong in the eyes of the law. For whatever reason, her victim didn’t see what she did as wrong, even if almost everyone else does.

I don’t personally know anyone involved in this case. I have no idea what any of them are like, other than what I’ve read about them. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I try to be open-minded as much as possible about most things. I often try to give people the benefit of the doubt, too, although I’m not always able to do that.

I can’t picture myself speaking to Vili Fualaau, who is now a grown man in his late 30s, insisting that he has no right to be sad about Mary Kay Letourneau’s death. I can’t see myself grabbing him by the lapels and shaking him, demanding that he see her the way that many other uninvolved people see her– simply as a child rapist. He was the main victim in this case, although others have rightly noted that others were also victimized– her ex husband, her children, her colleagues, and her other students, as well as extended family members who have had to live with the shame and notoriety of her crime.

But many of those same people who knew Mary Kay Letourneau privately also didn’t know her as simply a child rapist. Those people have the right to their feelings, whatever they may be. Ultimately, that was what I was trying to get at when I initially fell down the rabbit hole on RfM. I was not one of Mary Kay Letourneau’s victims. I don’t approve of what she did. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around how and why it happened. I don’t have all of the facts. But when it comes down to it, she was a human being who had loved ones, including the man she victimized when he was a child. What right do I have to judge him for the way he says he feels? And what right do other people have to judge me for how I feel? Feelings are just that.

I have written in this blog about one of the men who sexually abused me when I was growing up. When I think about it, there were a number of instances involving people besides him, although they varied in severity and regularity. The man I have written about is the one who stands out the most to me. What he did wasn’t on the same level of what Mary Kay Letourneau did, although it was clearly abuse. I didn’t see it as abuse at the time.

It wasn’t until I spoke to mental health professionals that I realized that what he did was sexual abuse. Some people might see that as a problem. No one wants to be an abuse victim. In some ways, making that realization made things somewhat worse for me. It became something I felt like I had to hide. I never told my parents the full extent of what happened. Even if I had done that, back when it was happening, I’m not sure they would have done anything. I suspect they might have even blamed me for it.

I don’t know what Vili Fualaau’s life is like. However, it doesn’t appear to me that his life was ruined. He has two daughters. He was married for about fourteen years, which is longer than some marriages last. From what I can tell, he hasn’t turned to a life of crime. He’s not, to my knowledge, a sex pest himself. In spite of being a victim of child rape, it looks like Vili is doing somewhat okay. But I really don’t know. I only know what’s he’s told everyone.

I remember watching Montel Williams back in the early 00s, when he had a talk show. One time, he did a show on child sexual abuse survivors. I remember he got very emotional and shouted something along the lines of, “These victims’ lives are RUINED!” It bothered me that he said that. It seemed like an awful lot of power to give to an abuser, as it also seemed to diminish the power of the abused. Who is he to say whose life is ruined? It’s not his experience. He’s not an authority on their lives!

My life hasn’t been ruined because of what I went through as a child. I don’t give my abuser that much power, or really, that much regard anymore. I don’t even hate him, even though according to the women on RfM, simply based on what he did, he was someone unworthy of any compassion or sympathy. What he did was wrong, but that didn’t make him a person without any value. He had some good qualities. One thing I remember about him was that he was an incredible gardener. Also, our dog, Rhonda, loved him and used to run to greet him when he’d come home from work every day.

So… I guess my point is, I’m not an authority on anyone’s experiences but my own. I am in charge of my thoughts and feelings. No one necessarily has the right to tell me that my opinions are *wrong*, because they’re just that– opinions– not facts. You may disagree or disapprove of my opinions, but I still have the right to them. Shouting me down, either literally or in written form, doesn’t make you “right”. It makes you an insufferable blowhard. My experiences as a sexual abuse survivor don’t make me an expert on sexual abuse as a whole. They only make me an expert on my own experiences. Likewise, I think Vili Fualaau is the best person to determine if his experiences with sexual abuse ruined his life. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t look like they have.

Sigh… I probably need to stop spending so much time on RfM, too.