I come from a family of long fuses. We will withstand a lot of bologna before we blow a gasket but when we do, we’re burned for life. I can count the number of times I’ve gotten pissed off with someone and made them aware of it. Usually I simply utilize the silent treatment and the cold shoulder. Where I come from the silent treatment is far more gossip worthy than a bar room brawl. They might talk about how Smitty sucker punched Macka for a few weeks, but snub someone at a fundraiser? That’s one for the books.
I learned this dysfunctional coping mechanism from my mother. My mother likes to act tough. She can talk a good game when the antagonist is nowhere to be seen but the minute there is a hint of confrontation, she’s off and running. Avoidant behavior, it’s a family trait.
This weekend she called to tell me a woman named Barbara had moved into her building.
“You remember Barbara? She didn’t tip Kristen that time at Palm Beach Grill?”
My sister Kristen worked at Palm Beach Grill about 9 years maybe more. If Barbara’s stingy behavior almost a decade ago is her character defining moment, I’m guessing Barbara has finally trumped herself.
“I do remember the no tipping event but I can’t picture her”
“Well, yeah you wouldn’t. She’s the epitome of depression. You know that labored walk and she never smiles. Never has. Never will. “
“That’s too bad” I said.
She bit back “Don’t feel bad for her. She’s not very nice to me. She moved into my building and she left a note under my door saying come by for a glass of wine and I never did. No big deal. I’m busy. I’m tired. I have my own wine. Whatever. So now whenever I see her she looks me right in the eye and almost squares off to me and says “Helloooooooooooooo Carol” then turns away. It’s so weird. It’s scary. I mean what the fuck is that all about? “Hellooooooooooooo Carol” like Hello Newman from Seinfeld kind of shit. Fuck her. Don’t even bother saying hi”
Trying to be helpful, I suggested “You should say something”
“This weekend Kristen and I saw her EVERYWHERE we went and every time the same thing. One time she didn’t say hi. We were on the ferry and she looked like she was sleeping. Probably drunk or something”
“What did Kristen say about the whole thing?”
“She was creeped out! I mean who wants to see their mother being terrorized like that? She would see her and say “There she is! C’mon go this way” and steer me in the direction of safety. It’s ridiculous. Now I gotta avoid this woman?”
“Maybe you should get a pistol? Sit in the parking lot polishing it up.”
“I don’t have time to sit around participating in threatening behavior. I have a life”
“OK how about a water gun? When she squares off to you, squirt her in the face. What’s she gonna do?”
“You know, that’s not a bad idea. I mean it’s not against the law. If she reported me she’d look like a big baby. You get squirt in the face with a water gun, you keep it to yourself, ya know?”
Who knows if she’ll follow through with the water gun retaliation? If I know my mother, she’ll dodge and sidestep Barbara when alone but when she has the support of a confederate, she’ll walk right towards her whispering to her side kick “Watch this”.
I asked my mother if I could share this story or if she thought the Big B might read it and lash out. She replied “I doubt she knows how to use the computer. I’ll print it out and tape it to her door. Can I get in trouble for that?”
Kendra is a stand-up comic living in Brooklyn where she owns a super comfortable bed. She spends most of her time wondering where the hell her sugar daddy is and hoping he didn’t settle.