April 13, 2013
Welcome to the world of middle-aged, post-divorced dating. A few decades ago when we wanted a boyfriend, hook-up, FWB or spouse, our options were constrained to people we actually knew. In fact, we were limited to people we had actually been in the same room with! We had no idea then how impoverished our choices were. Not being in a demographic that has grown up with computers and Internet access, we have run amok with the infinitude of options online.
For my age peers who shudder at the thought of online dating, I can only shrug and say there really aren't other options. Compared to other dangerous online activities, online dating is pretty benign. It is, by nature, transparent. Sure, anyone can post a photo from ten years ago or ten pounds ago, but eventually if you actually meet, this deception is quickly unmasked. In the olden days, when dating depended on actual location, you had to suffer the indignity of running into each other, or continuing to be cordial while in the same social circle. No more, thankfully. Dates than don't work out simply and quietly go away, never to be heard from again.
And what about Greg? It has been almost two years, and we still go out. A new wrinkle in the middle-aged dating scene is honesty. I realized I valued both that and his friendship too much to stalk back to my computer in a huff.
December 16, 2012
Why does this annoy me so? My mother has always been non-forthcoming and inscrutable but in the past few years her go-to gesture is The Shrug. She raises her eyebrows and shoulders, lifts both hands until they are parallel with the ceiling and stares, as my brother is fond of saying, into the middle distance. As far as I can tell, this gesture has a myriad of meanings: I don't know, I don't care, I don't want to talk about it, this doesn't interest me, let's change the subject, I can't be bothered to talk to you, I am done with you, I have no idea what is going on. But it reads as the ultimate in disrespect like the teenage eye roll, or a smart-ass "talk to the hand." I hate it.
I had purchased two airline tickets at the most expensive and most annoying time of year to travel--Thanksgiving. I did this to spend both the holiday and my mom's birthday with her in California. Since she doesn't travel anymore, our twice-yearly get-togethers have been halved and the onus is on me to go there. So I sat for a few hours on the 405 in freeway traffic, going less than 10 miles an hour the entire way.
Thanksgiving weekend is the first anniversary of my brother's death and my first visit to mom's house since my step-father died. So in theory, at least, we have some things to talk about.
But it was not to be. Are you hungry? Shrug. What time are we expected for Thanksgiving dinner? Shrug. How is the new cell phone working for you? Shrug.
I know I cannot change this behavior, much less extinguish it, but I can't help feeling that I deserve better. No matter how thick-skinned I am, it is a rebuff.
November 16, 2012
At best, I am ambivalent about the cars. Mostly, I hate them. I hate how they have become a glaring public signal that my son, an adult, is disabled. Unlike a limp or a speech impediment, the cars are always on view. I hate the way they isolate Jeff. I see the hypnotic glaze that comes over him while he is hyper-focused on a car. He derives pleasure from the "stim," that no one can ever understand or provide to him. I hate that they are an addiction, forcing Jeff into petty scams and larceny. I hate that everyone around him enables him because "he just loves cars."
I can't hate the cars categorically. Their power over Jeff is so strong that he learned classroom behavior in second grade by getting Hot Wheels as a reinforcer for appropriate behavior. Although I jokingly say, "Don't trick me into talking about cars," the cars act as a social ice breaker for Jeff. Boys come up to him to talk. Adult men are interested in chatting about his scale-models. In Dublin, an Italian man who spoke no English, was able to admire Jeff's Ferrari by saying "Vroom, vroom." It was the universal language. Jeff is known to the local adult classic car collectors: he admires the car to the proud owner, then says, "I have that one!" pulling a miniature model out of his magic bag of cars. Many members of the Monday Night Car Shows have a diminutive reproduction of their make and model sitting on the dashboard of the real car, which Jeff has sold them or proffered as a gift.
However, Jeff is out of school now. He is not in the cossetted cocoon of Cove School, where everyone knew his passion and enforced some workable boundaries. Cars had to stay in the locker. Cars were surrendered to the teacher for the duration of the class. No car trading. No cars in the elementary school wing, only in the high school recess area. Now Jeff is out and about in the community, doing work internships, using public transportation. "I worry about the cars on the train," I have told him. "You aren't paying attention to anything else and I don't want someone on the train to hurt you or rob you." Jeff's dad has put the kibosh on walking down the street while carrying a car. Like walking and texting at the same time, walking and stimming is surely as dangerous.
Like an alcoholic, Jeff frequently swears off the juice, but the self-deprivation has proved impossible. I finally engaged a therapist to assist him with some strategies for the obsession and the inappropriate behavior it causes. Here is hoping! We adults, well, many of us, have all realized that a power struggle is futile but if Jeff wants this monkey off his back, we would like to help.
October 31, 2012
Now my friend M and I have coined a term for another odd, slightly-less-toxic behavior. We named it aggressive-passive. Writ large, I have seen it played out often on JUDGE JUDY. For example, on the show, a friend phones and begs for money and when asked to pay it back, the friend claims it was a gift or an offer, not a loan. No one has ever asked me for money, but I have had the experience of being given a directive and either refusing or not responding, only to have the order forgotten or laughed off. It makes me feel wrong-footed.
When the request is outlandish, it is easy to assume it is a joke and it will go away. "Take me with you to Europe. You pay." "Help me move this Sunday." However, for smaller demands, I am unsure. Maybe it is just thrown into conversation to see if anyone picks up the gauntlet. "Take me to dinner." "Meet me now." That's the passive part, I think. Either response, "are you kidding me?" or "ok, let's do it" is acceptable.
So aggressive-passive is not the poison that passive-aggressive behavior is, but still . . . . STOP IT, PLEASE or Stop it, please?