Saturday, April 22, 2006

Goin' Where I've Never Gone Before


This afternoon, I had what I would call a mildly disturbing encounter. I was on the way to the post office, because, as you all know, if you want the government to give back to you what is yours, you’re never done with the paperwork. I realized I didn’t have enough cash on me for a priority package, so I stopped at the ATM. When I pulled into the bank parking lot, there was no one behind me. Suddenly, as I am about to pull up to the unit, my ex pulls up behind me, and it starts. I had barely gotten my card out the window to conduct my transaction when I heard, “Are you DONE yet?” And soon thereafter, as I was pushing the buttons, the familiar whiney, “C’mmooooooooon…”

Another adult, and two children, one mine, were in the car with him.

Some might think, and the ex might say, “Oh you just can’t take a joke.” But after nearly 16 years, folks, you know, it just ain’t funny anymore.

To my knowledge, I hadn’t done anything to warrant yet another incident in which he tried to publicly embarrass me. I’m a customer at that bank, I pulled up to use the services at that bank, and was harassed by someone with whom I have a legal arrangement to share parenting responsibilities for at least the next 12 years (give me strength). And yet, I’m pretty sure we could all expect better behavior from a total stranger. It’s just such bad judgement to do things like that, even in fun, in front of children who may not be able to reinterpret that kind of “adult” behavior.

What compels people to behave this way? What on earth about it is remotely necessary? What does it teach young children about how women can and should be treated? And what about the other adult in the car – is this behavior acceptable to this person as well? Well, it’s not acceptable to me or to most people I know. And frankly, I’m really damn tired of it.

My daughter doesn’t know this yet, but she is not going to go down the path of learning and accepting that it’s ok for men to treat women this way. She is going to have the best possible opportunities -- not the acceptable opportunities -- to cultivate her intellect, gain leadership skills, excel academically and in any other area she chooses, and forge a competitive edge. Maybe that will prepare her to repel some of the bozos that will undoubtedly appear in her path.

On top of that, however, I will still have to help both of my children to unlearn bullying as a useful tool for solving problems. It’s not. It is, however, solid evidence of our society’s limited ability to cultivate humanity, even among individuals who would otherwise at least appear to have the intellectual capacity to make better choices.

If I’m a victim of anything, it’s of my own faith in humanity. Seriously. What did I do after this little exchange? I pulled over and said hello. That’s right. Well, now, you know, where I come from, it's what people do. Friendly people, anyway. Eh, maybe where he comes from that's what derision is for. Maybe it's a cultural thing I don't get. Or something.

Anyway, I took a walk in the park, had two calls – one from a good friend about a show he’d seen last night with Liz Carroll and John Doyle in Chicago – and realized that last bit, being cordial, wasn’t necessary. Nothing really would have been lost had I just driven away like normal people do. In fact, that might have been the better choice, even though it would have meant not saying hello to my little boy. If he grows up to like smart girls, he should learn what happens when you treat them badly.

Click and learn.

http://www.dirkpowell.com/music/mp3s/timeagain/GoinWhere.mp3

18 Comments:

At April 22, 2006 7:36 PM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

I don't think that you're blowing things out of proportion at all on this. You're the one who was married to him, and you're the one that knows how much of that stuff you've put up with.

It's the fact that he bullies you in front of the kids that bothers me. It teaches them the wrong type of behaviour. Besides, if the kids aren't there you can just tell him what you really think; and a simple hand gesture woulda worked just fine for that.

>:-)

Hang in there, and don't take that crap from anybody; man or woman.

j

 
At April 22, 2006 8:48 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Thanks, J. In all honesty, based on what I learned about another recent encounter one of my other friends had with him, saying (or demonstrating) what I really think would fall on deaf ears (or eyes). I've noticed he's more careful when he's around just the children. But it happens pretty much every time other adults are in earshot, particularly if I am an unknown quantity. Not too long ago, I called during the day regarding something about the kids as I was on my way out of town. Rather than just say, "I'm in a meeting, can I call you back?" he used the opportunity instead to chastise me in front of his colleagues for calling about something so unimportant. I had no idea he was in a meeting, but he did, and I was like, "Wow. Cheap shots don't come much cheaper than that."

No matter. It will all just be a fond memory when their jobs are all shipped to India.

 
At April 23, 2006 2:14 AM, Blogger Darkneuro said...

Not to sound flip or anything, but GOOD JOB on 'seeing the light' as it were and divorcing him. ***HUGS***
Now... You behaved wonderfully. The reason he keeps doing it in front of other adults, this little need to belittle, is the same reason he probably slammed the (younger, geekier, sicklier, etc) kid in high school. It makes him feel powerful. Quite frankly, I'd teach the kids to say 'That's not nice!' whenever they observe something without manners. Arching an eyebrow or looking at him as you would a screaming brat in a grocery store (and they do exist... oh my do they exist) as if to say 'Are you DONE yet?' can do wonders as well.
Rest assured though, YOU behaved wonderfully.

 
At April 23, 2006 6:51 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey Neuro,
Thanks much. Granted there have been times when I didn't behave beautifully. The thing that I find odd is that it's my impression that he was that geekier kid in high school. Evidently he thinks he's impressing someone. All I can say is, I can't imagine how seeing my dad treat my mom that way would have made me feel. In the 12 years I was around before my dad died, they had ONE fight. They had plenty of problems but they were never aired regularly in front of me, and there was never this kind of behavior just for the heck of it. My mother would never have tolerated it like I have. Her death was the shoehorn. "What Would June Anne Do?"

Brats in grocery stores? No way. In Tennessee? Nuh-uh. MY children are PERFECT! ;-)

 
At April 23, 2006 5:21 PM, Blogger Shameless Agitator said...

Jen,

Wow. All I can say is "What a prick!"

Jeez. I'm glad you got out when you did. Nobody, and I mean nobody, should feel free to treat you like that.

The things we learn about old friends. It starts to color the memories. Kind of like my evil grandfather. Remind me to tell you of his latest schemes. I swear, I lost both my grandparents that day my grandma died.

I'm just glad you got out, and that G & A have you for their mom!!!

Much love,
Andi

 
At April 23, 2006 6:11 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey you shameless agitator,

Wow, that's an eerily touching comparison. Only...if you consider the difference in age and the assumption that it's not dementia...

I miss you guys. I'm really sorry how this is all playing out, affecting all our friends, family, memories, etc. again. I feel like I'm waking up all over again, a new layer of facing reality and taking responsibility where I didn't before. I thought it would be cleaner, easier, friendlier. But ultimately it's my fault, for assuming things I shouldn't have. I'm very fortunate and really, really grateful to have the friends and family that I do. I shouldn't really air this stuff because I know it's painful and hard for the friends in the middle.

Luv you too...summer is coming!

MM

 
At April 24, 2006 9:36 PM, Anonymous Wendy said...

boys and girls: he is not always the best person. and I tend to agree that after so many years maybe he should have learned not to make jokes (he is male though, so maybe he hasn't learned). however, in this case, all the people in the car were wound up for an overnight cub scout campout and had inadvertently ended up behind you all through town. the mood was lighthearted and playful when those words were uttered. obviously to me, nothing bothered you that day because you took the time to stop and walk over to talk to us. I have seen or heard NO sign of any bullying, despite being alone with him frequently. for all those who don't actually know me, there is (and will never be) a relationship between me and him so I have no vested interest in "saying the right thing." I say what I want. as far as the idea you have put forth here that your gender was behind the comments on Saturday, you are in left field. and there is little worry that your kids will learn any gender-bias, your daughter is already learning (from BOTH parents) to be a strong-willed individual. (ps: be careful for what you wish). I would like to get to know you better and hope my comments here won't affect that possibility, you do seem a neat person to hang out with though I am concerned your comments here were more directed at driving a wedge between the mutual friends you and your ex share. those friends (from what I've seen) are the most fantastic people I've ever met, to be able to deal with the rift in their group and maintain friendship with you both.

 
At April 24, 2006 10:41 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Wendy,

I can appreciate all your comments. And actually it is kind of brave to jump in because you are sort of just getting immersed in this oddball social network of ours. You certainly appreciate the wonderful gift I have in Lynne and Shannon.

At the same time, I hasten to add you've known him only a few months, going on a year I guess, and he has probably gone out of his way to treat you well for obvious reasons. My family and many of my own friends outside of our relationship really do not share your rose-colored view of him, because they witnessed his antics over many years. As has already been stated here, it might seem fresh and fun to some, but after such a long time, it's tiresome. Really. The things you might not see as bullying may surprise you. And while I could care less if it were just one on one, it's this warped thing he pulls in front of other people, particularly on the phone or in other situations like email when I can't "defend" myself. It's just unnecessary, except for whatever kick it gives him. From former coworkers to family to a former US Congressman, I can tell you, his behavior left a very poor impression.

My closest friends are people who are fair, respectful, funny, insightful, smart, and kind. These are the qualities I surround myself with and try to emulate, and certainly try to teach my children. As I said in a comment earlier, I sometimes feel badly that this blog occasionally becomes a place where I air things that aggravate me, because I know it must be challenging for people close to both of us who read it. Nonetheless, this blog is a singular creative venture and overall has little to do with people who are mostly in my past. It's still, however, about my feelings and experiences, and I'm not going to apologize or walk on eggshells to keep the peace. My friends are grownups, and like me, will do what they need to do. I trust them to understand I love them and that I'm not trying to get them to take sides. I'm always prepared to go it alone and expect someday I will. I walked away from a fake union to get real and stand up for myself, not to win a popularity contest.

Thanks for sharing your perspective. We're probably not likely to agree much where X is concerned but I do appreciate what you've gone through and also the kindness and affection you've given my kids.

 
At April 25, 2006 6:46 AM, Blogger littleblackcube said...

My momma taught me that answering ill manners with grace has always been the right thing to do.

It's that kind of classy, well thought out answer that makes me believe that at your core you have got this under control (even if it doesn't feel like it sometimes :)

 
At April 25, 2006 6:52 AM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

I think it's great that Wendy can stop by and share her perspective. However, I will say this...

Mando values the mutual friends mentioned very much, and has no intention of driving any wedge into the situation. In fact, she's discussed that issue often with me; worrying that said friends might feel as if they are in the middle. She goes well out of her way to not create that wedge when possible.

I've met a few of those friends and have found them to be brilliant, caring and just wonderful people. I'm guessing that they will be able to distinguish between personal venting and "a wedge."

I think that you forget this blog is about J's personal feelings. I know that she insists it's about Bluegrass - and it is - but those personal feelings are gonna come out.

On a side note...

I've got an opinion that I will share, since you've shared yours. I have seen the "bullying." You were there as well; however, I'm positive that you will disagree that it was anything more than "good-hearted teasing and fun."

On New Year's Eve I brought my parents with me to the party you were all attending at J's house. Everybody played poker together. My parents and I were just learning and I thought it would be great fun for them to do so in a group of cool people.

It started out really nice, with everybody showing us what to do. It was fun.

The "X" took that situation and turned it completely around; leaving both myself and my mother feeling like we should get out of the game. Whether intentional or not, his overtly competitive and hurrying nature took all the fun out of playing cards with everybody else; the rest of which were incredibly kind. He left us feeling foolish and beaten down, not encouraged.

My father hung in there to keep playing, but I couldn't wait for him to stop. Afterwards, on the ride home, he asked me about "X." He let me know that he had left my father feeling pretty crummy in some ways, because of the manner in which he was acting and the things he was saying.

Mind you, my Dad is a tough guy that doesn't take anything from anybody. He bit his tongue throughout that evening and held back; he was trying to be a considerate guest. Once we left, he let it out; and it wasn't pretty.

So, call "X" what you want, but he is definitely the social bully at times. Just ask my parents; two of the most beautiful and objective people you could ever meet.

Anyway, that's my opinion. That doesn't mean I'm hopping on the "wedge" wagon. It just means that I have some small bit of experience to support what J says. (And I don't do it just to support her, even though she is my friend. I disagree with her often, and am not afraid to do so.)

And one more thing...

I do like the "X." I don't think he's some bad guy or something. The children are amazing; and that is something BOTH parents are responsible for. So, I'm not picking on him. I'm just supporting J's feelings on this one.

Hope that all makes sense and doesn't come across in a mean-spirited way. That's not how I intend it to be taken.

Okay, I'm done. :-)

 
At April 25, 2006 7:01 AM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

...one more thing.

I'm going to try to not comment on this matter anymore on the blog. Putting things in writing makes everything feel so "official;" when really, I'm just trying to support somebody I care deeply about.

 
At April 25, 2006 7:32 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

LBC,
Thanks for the kind words. Most folks know I can really be a hot-head so your use of the word "grace" really makes me feel like I've come a long way.

Jim...
I had no idea it was that awful. I feel terrible. Had I known it was going to get as out of hand as it did, I never would have set up the "field of play" that way. Too bad your parents couldn't be with me in Nashville for the Lynne Craps Tutorial. It was awesome.

Then again, Shannon and I did have a lot of fun playing Pretty Pretty Princess with A and you. Memo to me: no more social experiments at my house! Tell your parents that the kids and I are now AVID Pass the Pig players -- and that's about as competitive as I need to get to have fun!

Apologize for your folks for me. Really, I had absolutely no idea.

 
At April 25, 2006 7:47 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

OH! I meant to mention that, in thinking about all this, I realized I may have been primed by having learned what happened about a week earlier to another of my friends. By the time of my unfortunate encounter with "x" at the bank, my subconscious was probably at the "For CHRISSAKE he just NEVER SHUTS UP" stage. So it's not just this incident or that one but the combined impact of having reached my Unnecessary BS Threshold where he's concerned.

And I really am trying to keep it out of the blog. Bluegrass is about all the things he's not, so he and people like him just don't belong here. I'll work on it.

 
At April 27, 2006 5:49 PM, Blogger Shannon said...

Goodness...

Divorce sucks! but alas I have two good friends in MM and X... so just keep calling me wonderful things all you people.... LOL

And don't worry about me I am an adult and can take care myself (or at least pretend like hell...lol)

 
At April 27, 2006 8:25 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Whew! I thought so! Sorta!

LOL!

XO,
--mm

 
At April 28, 2006 4:09 AM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

Wait a minute... Shannon is an "adult?" Aw, crap. My whole theory is shot to hell!

;-)

 
At April 28, 2006 8:06 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey! Be nice, or we'll tie you up and make you watch Pee Wee's Christmas over and over.

I would have to disagree that divorce sucks. Ok, it sucks for many people, and most children, and actually, I didn't do it properly and had no counsel and so in some ways it sucked for me. But I had no idea how unhappy I was, and I'm sure "x" would say the same. So if it spares two human beings from being miserable their entire lives, I say, no pain, no gain!

 
At April 28, 2006 9:09 AM, Blogger Shannon said...

OK, maybe I should say Divorce sucks for those of us who have never had to deal with it before.


Yes, J. I am an adult... just not sure an adult what...

LOL

OOOO Pee-Wee X-mas might have to pull it out soon and watch... poor Dianah Shore 1st being ignored at Pee-Wee's X-mas party then dying.... so sad!

 

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