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.

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Ex

Piss and vinegar…

Ever heard that expression? It goes something like this. “Wow, that bitch is full of piss and vinegar today!”

Lately, that’s kind of been me. I’ve been very cranky lately. I have less patience than I used to have, and I get irritated by small things. I have always been easily perturbed by certain stuff, but lately it’s been more of an acute problem. I suspect it has to do with aging and hormones. Or maybe I’m just unusually bitchy lately.

I don’t know how it is for other people, but for me it seems crazy that I’m as old as I am. It seems like I wanted to be older forever. As a child, I couldn’t wait to be sixteen. Then I couldn’t wait to be eighteen. Then, it was twenty-one that was the magic age. I didn’t mind the years that came after twenty-one. I wasn’t even upset when I turned 30 or 40… And now I’m edging closer to my “late forties”, and it feels like I’m on the edge of a mid-life crisis, even though I’m probably already past mid-life. I’ll never be a mother or a grandmother, and I always thought I would. I probably won’t ever be a “career woman”, either, though I always thought I would. Now I’m looking forward to the hormonal storm that I know is just around the corner… I haven’t experienced any hot flashes yet, but I know they’re coming. I watched my mom and sisters have them, and now some of my friends are experiencing them. Some of them are younger than I am.

Things certainly haven’t turned out the way I thought they would. Having Bill’s mom around for the last week is a reminder of how much craziness we have both endured, mainly owing to Bill’s ex wife. I don’t feel the need to write about her so much anymore, mainly because one of Bill’s daughters reconnected and I’ve learned that it wasn’t all my imagination. Ex really is as batshit nuts as she’s seemed all these years… and my complaints about her weren’t unfounded. Moreover, as much as I despise her for the awful, incredibly damaging things she’s said and done, she now seems like a truly pathetic and sick person. I almost pity her now. I certainly don’t fear her. So, since I’m full of piss and vinegar today, here’s a story about Ex. It might be a repeat, but if it is, chalk it up to my aging memory.

My mother-in-law, Parker, told me a tale about something Ex did when she and Bill were still married. At the time, their children were very young, and Ex, apparently feeling spiteful and nasty, took Parker aside and said, “You know, Bill and I don’t think you’re a suitable grandmother for the children.”

As Parker’s face probably registered shock and horror, she continued, “You wear short skirts and high heels, and you dye your hair… and you don’t wear a shawl or sit on the porch in a rocking chair. You’re just not an appropriate grandmother figure for the kids.”

The funny thing is, I don’t think Ex had a grandmother that fit this description, either. In fact, from what I’ve heard, Ex’s grandmother and her mother behaved much like Ex always has, only worse… and since Ex was adopted, this behavior was almost certainly learned, and not caused by organic mental illness. She learned to use her children as weapons to keep other people doing her bidding. And as the children have become adults, she uses her younger children to keep the older ones “in line”. She also has a habit of co-opting the innocent into her accusations. Bill would never ever say that his mom isn’t an “appropriate grandmother figure” to his daughters. He loves his mother dearly, which is probably why Ex hates her so much. MIL, like me, has Bill’s best interests at heart and, because of that, he listens to what she says, which helps him resist Ex’s craziness.

I had heard this story several times before and it’s always outraged me, but this time, Parker put a hilarious spin on it. I told her about how, back in Virginia, on the one occasion I met Bill’s daughters in person in June 2003, Bill said he was going to call his mom in Texas. Younger daughter, then about nine years old, said “You mean, GrandmaMAH?”

I remember thinking that was kind of a pretentious moniker for Parker, although since I’d only known her for about a year, I wasn’t sure what the reasoning behind that was. And the truth was, back then, she had seemed kind of flashy and sexy to me. In those days, she was a competitive ballroom dancer. I figured maybe she was just kind of eccentric and never really questioned it until just a couple of days ago.

Anyway, Bill called his mom. Younger daughter was the only one of the three– we also had Bill’s then teenaged former stepson visiting– who would speak to Parker on the phone. Sixteen years later, I told Parker about how younger daughter had referred to her as “GrandmaMAH,” and Parker laughed heartily and said she was surprised that younger daughter had remembered that name. Then, she told me what had prompted it.

After Ex had told Parker how “inappropriate” she was as a grandmother to the children, Ex then asked Parker what she wanted her kids to call her. I’m actually surprised that Ex bothered to ask, since she usually just does whatever she wants without regard for anyone else’s input. Parker was so pissed off and offended by Ex’s declaration of how she wasn’t a suitable role model or grandmother for the kids, that she snapped “Just tell them to call me GrandmaMAH!”

And, in a rare show of compliance, Ex did just that. Six years later, younger daughter was still calling Bill’s mom “GrandmaMAH!” Of course, it didn’t really matter, since Ex cut MIL off from the kids and, for many years, they basically considered Bill’s stepmom their grandmother. They call her Meemee, and Bill’s dad is Pawpaw.

After talking with Bill’s stepmother, we learned that Ex had pretty much done the same thing to her. She’d imply that Bill’s mom was a “better grandmother”. Since SMIL and MIL have never gotten along and don’t speak to each other, this triangulation effort brought about by Ex was highly effective in further alienating them from each other and hugely successful in keeping SMIL “competing” with MIL to “win” the role of the Ex approved “grandma”.

SMIL needn’t have bothered, though, because Ex has always hated Bill’s mom and did her best to ruin their mother-son relationship. In fact, though Bill’s mom tried hard not to interfere in Bill’s relationship with Ex, MIL finally told him he should get a divorce. Why? Because months before the divorce, Ex had set it up so that Bill and his mother would spend Christmas together, then she called Parker before Bill got to her house and told her she shouldn’t let Bill stay with her over the Christmas holidays, after all. She said he was an abusive pervert who hates women and that he would probably try to kill her.

Ex said similar things to Bill’s stepmom, who actually believed her for a time, and she no doubt also told her friends, church members, and most importantly, the children, these egregious lies. When Ex did finally drop the divorce bomb on Bill, and much to her surprise, he readily accepted, she blamed MIL! She said Bill was only agreeing to the divorce because his mom had told him to! Sure, Ex… it had nothing to do with your setting up a Christmas visit between Bill and his mom, and then telling Bill’s mother ahead of the visit that he was an abusive pervert who wanted to murder her! You know what? I suspect that Ex’s comment to MIL was actually projection, but that’s just me…

For years, I have been full of piss and vinegar about Ex to the point of obsession. But now, since there’s been more talking and the truth is coming out, I have less… at least when it comes to Ex. Now, I just think she’s a ridiculous fool and I feel sorry for everyone who is forced to be in her sphere. She’s truly a sick woman.

Parker is no longer known as “GrandmaMAH”. Since younger daughter is back in contact with Bill and his mom, she asked Parker how she’d prefer to be addressed. Parker told her to call her whatever made her comfortable. She says younger daughter finally settled on “Nana”. They have had a few Skype chats and traded emails. Younger daughter is now getting to know her long lost grandmother and her father after way too many lost years.

Parker and I shared a good laugh about that story. I admire her for having a little piss and vinegar inside, too… a little spunk. Sometimes, people need a spritz of it when they step over the line.

Lately, I fear I’m full of more piss and vinegar than usual, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. I’m getting older, which means I have less time for stupidity and bullshit. When people give me a hard time, I’m inclined to give it right back to them. Why not? I don’t usually go looking for it. They almost always come to me. And if it means people think I’m a sour old bitch, so be it. As long as I’ve got Bill and a steady influx of canine company, I’m doing alright. I don’t like to be bitter and nasty, but being nice doesn’t always yield good results. And sometimes tossing off a little nasty spunk yields hilarious results… like telling your narcissistic ex daughter-in-law that the children need to call their grandmother “GrandmaMAH”!

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