Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Seriously Ugly

All I wanted was a weekend away. I did all the right things to get it. I asked the Powers That Be if I could visit the lake cabin without displacing anyone. I asked if I could invite Gluten-Free Jen, as this was to be a writing/working weekend, as well as a relaxing-getting-the-hell-away-from-hideous-job weekend. I made food plans. I packed. I prepped. I got excited about it.

And then it all went to hell.

Oh, yeah. Get a snack. Hit the bathroom. Sit in a comfy chair. This is going to be a long one. Hey, I'm still me, you know.

The Good

Wednesday night, we saw Sarah McLachlan in concert at the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery. It had been raining since...well, December, so I didn't have any hopes for decent weather. Imagine my delight and surprise when the clouds broke enough to have a ray of sunshine illuminate the stage! Okay, so Sarah was blinded by it. She didn't mind, she's from B.C. The sun is a rare and precious gift to her, too. Halfway through the concert, the sky had cleared almost completely.

And the music. Oh, so lovely. Such a fun performance, too! Sarah said at the beginning of the show [before Big Ray Of Light] that she was so pleased it wasn't actually raining, given the weather this "Julyuary." This may be my new favorite weather term.

So I missed the exit on the drive down, so what? And yeah, I didn't bring cash for parking, so we ended up running back to a convenience store even after we arrived. We still got there in time. AND Roommate and I were joined by our lovely neighbor, her friend and her daughter, all of whom got to the concert venue early enough to snag great seating for us.

It was lovely. It was entertaining. It was funny as heck when our neighbor got a wee bit tipsy on Chateau Ste Michelle Merlot. [She's adorably affectionate when tipsy.] And since we had to park so far away, I felt like I got a workout speed walking to and from the winery.

Ah...the perfect setup for a lovely weekend away, I thought.

I was wrong.

The Bad

The next morning, Roommate opened the door to my room and said firmly, "You told me to wake you up early. You said you wanted to get up." She was correct. I did tell her that, and I meant it. At the time. But despite my inability to form words in any recognizable language, I got up. I also completed my packing, stripped the linens from the beds and remade them both. I usually make sure my bed is made up when I leave on vacations. That way, when I'm dragged back to home and hearth, kicking and screaming, at least I have a nice fresh bed to sleep in that night.

What? Try it and tell me it doesn't make going back to work a little bit better.

Anyway, after doing all I needed to do before going to work, Roommate and I headed to her car. I had a measly four hours of work and then I was FREE! Then I glanced over at my car, to admire its newly oil-changed and gas tank-filled beauty and saw it.

Flat tire.

I tried to tell myself that this would only delay my trip an hour, one hour, to get the tire repaired and be on my way. Myself, however, was now grumpy and refused to be cheered. I called Les Schwab to ask about the costs of repairing the tire, since it was the day before payday and I'd spent considerable amounts of money preparing the engine of the car for the trip and was relieved to hear that if the tire was salvageable, repairs would be around $13. I was told I could drive the car in if the tire wasn't completely flat. Bolstering myself with the hope that I could drive the car in rather than change it to the donut, thus wasting even more precious time. The tire hadn't been completely flat, after all.

By the time I got home, however, it was.

Unwilling to engage in battle with the car jack, which looked cleverer that I am, I borrowed Roommate's car to zip down to the local-est hardware store and buy a can of Fix-A-Flat. I read the instructions carefully and donned appropriate eye protection. Then I attached the little hose to the tire and depressed the button.


In an effort to fix whatever I was doing wrongly, I turned the can to look at the instructions again...and the entire top of the can popped off, spraying me in Fix-A-Flat gunk. Hair, face, clothes. Everything.

After a minor meltdown, I pulled out the donut, the car jack and the owners manual. Did you know that the '95 Volvo has a jack that fits on one spot on each side of the car? It's true. And as I was lying on my stomach, on the grass made damp by rain and Fix-A-Flat gunk, I found that spot. I also found out that as much as I hate changing tires, I hate it even more in the rain.

Of course it started to rain. Hard.

By the time I handed the keys to the man at Les Schwab, I was wet, sweaty, gunky, smelly and, if the image in the ladies' room mirror was to be trusted, scary-looking. Seriously. I looked deranged. Of course it was the day I decided not to be Our Lady of the Perpetual Ponytail, and rain, sweat, dirt and Fix-A-Flat gunk made for an interesting hairstyle. My eyes were bulging with fury and my clenched fists were shaking. Just a little.

The tire repair was completed quickly. The people at Les Schwab were very nice. I raced home, showered as quickly as possible, pulled on non-gunked clothing, loaded my car with a small mountain of crap, including my dog, and hit the road.

During the drive, I had a lovely conversation with Very Nice Person on the phone. [Hands-free device was used. Safety first! I know, I know!!!] VNP expressed sympathy and certainty that from this point on, my weekend away would be relaxing and productive.

VNP was wrong.

The Seriously Ugly

GF Jen and I met up in Newport and she followed me the rest of the way to the lake cabin. Oh, it was so beautiful! And despite the delays, there was still a tiny bit of daylight left with which one might appreciate the beauty.

Just for background: The original cabin was owned by my grandparents, who also built a two-story structure on the same lot, nicknamed "The Doghouse." A few years back, the adjoining lot was purchased and a building I like to call the Beautiful Monstrosity was constructed. Although family owns the BM, I am not part of that elite group.

Darling one, I don't know if you remember my speaking of the other offspring of my parents, the being to whom I refer as My Brother The Pig. In 1990, I received The Last Straw from MBTP and have refrained from speaking to him unless necessity and/or barest courtesy required it. My mother, therefore, warned me that MBTP and my least favorite uncle, who has been dubbed "Drunkle Chris" by my cousins, would be in residence. Apparently, however, my mother did not deem it necessary to caution MBTP that I would be arriving.

Well, that's silly, isn't it? Why should MBTP be told any such thing, when the world revolves around his comfort and should adjust to his needs? I feel so foolish.

Anyway. After my arrival, MBTP's spawn spotted me and, having no clue who I am, trotted off to report my presence. A few moments later, he appeared to investigate.

Our conversation is as follows:


Me: Hi.

MBTP: What's going on? [faint note of suspicion]

Me: [pause] Just here for the weekend.

MBTP then turned to GF Jen and introduced himself; she responded in kind. That was it. A little while later, he and our Uncle Al returned the barbecue they'd borrowed from the Doghouse, as the BM's barbecue wasn't working properly. I greeted Uncle Al with much warmth because a) I love him, b) he is very kind to me and c) he's one of the few males in my family worth more than the dirt it would take to bury him.

Both men returned to the BM, GF Jen and I finished our settling in, fixed a cocktail and sat down to discuss our writing plans for the weekend when the phone rang. It was my mother. Screaming.


Evidently, the conversation I had with MBTP was "rude" and "short" on my end. MBTP was very upset by this lack of good manners on my part, so upset, in fact, that he did what any forty-seven year old, educated, traveled, urbane, respected officer of the court, husband and father of three would do.

He called his mommy.

Now, had I said what I would have liked to say during our brief exchange, I would accept the "rude." The response I would have liked to give to the oh-so-friendly-and-charming "What's going on?" would have been something like this:

What's going on? Well...let's think about that, shall we? I'm
375 miles from home, surrounded by bags of food and clothing. I'm standing
in front of our family's lake place. It's summertime and we're on the very
cusp of a weekend. I have my dog with me. A friend is here with her
own bags and suitcase. Now. Given all of that, what do you
think is going on? Take your time. Top of your head...yes, right
near the bald spot...take a wild guess.

But I didn't.

And when one considers that I would like very little more than never to see MBTP again, the fact that I said anything at all makes my response relatively long-winded.

It also never occurs to MBTP that his approach might not be viewed as the height of cordiality and welcome. Nor does that occur to my mother. If blame is to be assigned, we all know very well where it will land.

To be honest, beloved invisible one, all of this information about MBTP is incidental. While I found it irritating, it wasn't surprising or even all that hurtful. I cannot expect better from him, unless I secretly long for disappointment. This is one of the many reasons I no longer interact with him unless absolutely necessary. What was upsetting and insulting and hurtful was my mother's response.

If my mother were a better parent and a better person, she might have had two different responses than she did.

  1. She might have listened sympathetically, making appropriate noises of love and support when MBTP called.

  2. She might have said, "You're 47 years old. Be a man. Deal with it yourself or get over it."

Instead, she called me, screaming, and told me to "Get the fuck out."

That night, I didn't sleep all that well. I knew that if I left, I would be unlikely to return to the place of my heart and my childhood, my favorite location on earth. I also knew that the choice I was making was not between my wants and my relationship with my mother, but between the lake and my self-worth.

We were packed and gone by 0845.


  1. Wow horrible, the only difference between what your mom said and what mine would say is that mine would eliminate the F word. Don't get me wrong I am glad to be alive but why did these women have children?

  2. OMG, I'm sadly relieved by this to know that my mother is not the only one who makes their childs life a living hell on earth.
    Now granted the woman does things for me like watch my chldren when I ask her to, etc but she is so rude and has not concept of anyone other than herself that it is grossly insane.
    I feel your pain...I'm pissed off for you, and if you need me to help kick some butt for you, I'm ready, granted it would be pent up aggression towards folks in my own family, but I'm here for you.

  3. First off, I think its very complimentary of you to state that your neighbor (me) was a wee bit tipsy (when in fact my blood was 78% wine.. the next day!)... and the affectionate part.. well you know how much I love you and Jenn!! Not enough to break up your fake marriage, but I digress....

    I abhor your mother. And your brother too. And if I ever meet them, I will be very polite to their faces, but wipe boogers on their personal belongings. Is that so wrong??? Cosmic justice with tools we always have on hand (eewww.)

  4. My mouth is gaping. All I can say is sorry such an amazing amount of crap fell on you. :( Mommies know exactly where on our body of armor to shove that knife...