I don’t know about you, but I’m about as comfortable using the middle finger as I am saying aloud the expression that it represents. You might find me using hand gestures, but they’re more along the lines of rabbit ears (when posing in a photo), the peace sign, making a circular motion next to my ear (to indicate someone’s a bit loopy), or pointing. Have I ever used my middle finger? I tried it out once when I was sitting in a room by myself to see how it felt. It seemed so vulgar and unnatural that I’ve never put it ‘into practice’. Oh my gosh! I just read the last two sentences back and if you have a filthy mind, you could really misinterpret what I was trying to convey. That was not my intent. How can I better explain it so it doesn’t sound like a double entendre? Well, hmm. Let me try again. One day, long ago, I attempted to form my right hand into the offensive symbol but my hand wouldn’t cooperate and that was the only time I ever tried it. Is that better? I’m not entirely convinced but it’ll have to do because I’m not going to waste another minute trying to explain it a third time.
Why is it necessary to discuss this topic, of all the topics in the world, today of all days? I’ve just had it on my mind because my mother keeps bringing up my niece, the one I refer to as M&M, and I cannot think of her without also thinking of that gesture because it’s what she’s known for. She uses it frequently to express herself without saying a word and I can tell she’s had a lot of practice because it’s so effortless. And as I’ve shared before, I don’t even like to discuss her because it makes me feel slimy all over and I always want to gargle afterward because just speaking her name leaves a bad taste in my mouth, however, she is part of my story so I’m going to try and share a little about her and then (hopefully) never revisit this subject matter again. The last time I physically saw her was late summer of last year and she refused to acknowledge my presence. This is also one of the behaviors that she’s well practiced at. Have you ever met someone that can look right past you as if you weren’t even in the room? That’s my niece.
Her very existence resulted from ‘a fling’. My sister met a guy at a bar and they ‘hooked up’ and that was that. At the time, I was 14 and my sister was 22. She was in no position to raise a child. Her priorities were drinking, smoking and getting high. Early on in her pregnancy, she decided the best thing to do was to give the baby up for adoption. A couple was selected and they were at her side throughout the pregnancy, paying for the medical bills and accompanying her to her appointments. However, on the actual day of my niece’s birth, after my sister saw her and marveled at her beauty, she changed her mind and decided to keep her. I really wish she hadn’t done that. And I’m not the only one in my family that feels this way. Why? Because if you could see how her selfish behavior damaged her child irreparably, you would understand. Her daughter was never her first priority. Her revolving door of boyfriends and the chance to ‘party’ whenever the opportunity presented itself, those were her top priorities.
That little girl grew up with all kinds of different men or ‘father figures’ in her life that never stuck around for long, not that you’d want any of them to. I wouldn’t consider any of them ‘suitable’. Most of them my sister hand selected at one of the local bars. And my niece never met or even knew her actual biological father. My sister put up every possible barrier to keep the two apart and she succeeded. My parents, of course, were aware of the ‘comings and goings’ with regard to my sister and grew very concerned about what my niece was being exposed to. They decided to intervene. After seeing how my niece (their granddaughter) was being woefully neglected, they asked my sister if she’d allow my niece to move in with them and my sister surprisingly agreed. That’s when all the ‘real fun’ started. Initially, my sister seemed to revel in all her new found freedom, but it didn’t last. She’s pretty sharp and it didn’t take her long to recognize that she’d given up her one true negotiating tool and that just wasn’t acceptable. Let ‘the games’ begin!
All it would take was ‘one wrong move’, one tiny disagreement with my sister or not satisfactorily fulfilling one of her requests, and she’d demand her daughter back. And so it went, month after month, year after year. My niece would live with my parents and then just when she’d start to get comfortable, my sister would demand her back. And then once my sister would get tired of having to actually ‘parent a child’, she’d dump her daughter back on my parents. It was an 18 year tug-of-war. My sister really did a number on her child. When her daughter got older and they would have a misunderstanding, things usually got out of hand quite quickly and it would turn physical, and then the cops would have to get involved. How sad is that? And there were so many people that tried to ‘step up’ and do the right thing. So many people cared and wanted to help my niece but my sister always found a way to throw a wrench in the works. It wasn’t just her though. Even though my parents thought they were doing the right thing, I could see the train wreck coming from a mile away.
Whenever my niece lived with my parents, there were no ‘consequences’ for bad behavior. There were also no expectations. She was never asked to do a single chore, she was never ‘corrected’ when she got out of line, and she never had to follow any rules. It was almost the exact opposite of how me and my two older brothers were raised. My parents always excused my niece’s behavior and blamed everything on my sister. They felt sorry for her and didn’t want to make her life even harder. The problem with that is, between my sister and my parents, they created a monster. My niece has more hatred in her heart than anyone I know and it has had a hold on her for most of her life. I didn’t think children were even capable of ‘nasty grams’ but at the ripe old age of 10, I received my first one and it was hand delivered! She told me how awful I was and how much she hated me and all kinds of other lovely sentiments. It was totally unexpected and I was completely taken aback as well as hurt.
The funny thing was (in a sick, twisted way) that she gave me the letter when we were on a road trip to Arizona (with my mom and my two oldest children) and still had several days and several states to travel through before returning home. That was a fun trip! She was so envious of my daughter that she couldn’t stand it and she is still (to this day) green with envy. Anyone that stood between her and her ‘Papa’ and/or ‘Grandma’ became public enemy number one. My mom mattered a great deal to my niece, but the one person that she was devoted to and stood above the rest was my stepdad. She called him ‘Papa’ and any time she would speak to him, she would talk like a baby. This went on throughout the duration of their relationship, up until the day he died. It is quite disturbing to hear someone speak this way, especially when it’s coming from the mouth of an adult well into their 20s and the person they’re communicating with is not a baby, but their grandfather. She is 39 now and she still does it. Gross.
What else does she still do? She still gives me and just about everyone else ‘the middle finger’, and sometimes she doesn’t even use her hand(s). Remember when I mentioned the last time I saw her? It was about 3 months after she flipped off my daughter for no apparent reason, during late summer of last year. On that particular day, I was helping my brother clean out my mom’s house to get ready to put it on the market, and out of the blue, my niece showed up with my mom in tow. My mom entered the house first and it was clear that she was unhappy about the situation. I felt like we’d been ambushed. My mom walked around and made observations and after about 10 minutes, my niece appeared in the doorway and then proceeded towards us. It was extremely awkward because she won’t make eye contact and she won’t respond back if you talk to her. She just acts like you don’t exist. After standing there for about 10 minutes, she told my mom that they needed to go. Before my mom left, I reminded her twice (in front of my niece) that I’d swing by her apartment to pick her up for our dinner date at 5:30 that evening.
Can you guess what happened when I arrived? Surprise, surprise, she wasn’t there!! I called her landline in her room and she didn’t answer. I then tried her cellphone to no avail. After that, I went to the front of the building and asked one of the staff members to check on her and they went to her room and she was nowhere to be found. At first I was upset about it, because I knew my niece intentionally didn’t bring my mom back in time in a childish attempt to spoil our plans. But the more I thought about, I had to laugh. My daughter was with me and after we stood around for about 20 minutes, I said, “What the heck! Let’s just the two of us have dinner and make the most of the evening.” And we did. We had a nice meal and a lovely conversation. Afterward, we returned to my mom’s apartment. As I approached my mom, I said, “Where were you? I was going to take you out to dinner. I reminded you earlier today.” “Oh?” she responded, a puzzled look on her face. “M&M and I were just driving around. You know how that is.” “Did you eat?” I then asked. “Oh, yes!” she replied, “We stopped by Wendy’s and had hamburgers.” Yep. My niece got the opportunity to give me ‘the middle finger’ and she took it.
It’s a very sad situation actually. She and her mom are just alike, full of hate and convinced that the world’s against them. I used to take their verbal attacks personally but I recognize now that they’re just projecting their own self hatred onto me and others. Does that mean that I continue to place myself in harm’s way by engaging with either of them? No, not any longer. As much as I grieved the loss of the relationship, I realized that I was better off. There are some people that are just like cancer and the sooner you ‘cut them out’ of your life, the better off you’ll be. That’s my two cents for the day. I am now going to take a long, hot shower and use lots of soap, right after I gargle for at least 10 minutes with Scope and/or Listerine and/or pure alcohol. Thanks for stopping by! For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading my blog. I love to write and I try to infuse humor into everything I do, and I hope I was able to make you smile. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.