Monday, March 1, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

My mom worked in accounting at the main office of a chain of appliance stores for over 30 years. She took a short break after my sister was born but was right back at it as soon as my sister was old enough to start going to school. Thirty years is a long time to work at the same place. I just can't imagine it.

Over the years the company changed and grew and my mother's job along with it. She had started working there part time when she was still in college and they only had one or two stores in Central Ohio. Back then her office consisted of herself and two other women and the owners of the company. By the time she retired the company had stores all over Ohio and the Midwest, she had a staff of over 20 people and she was a company wide legend. Everybody knew her and she knew everybody.

When you work somewhere for that long people really get to know you and in my mother's case it seemed that she shared every intimate detail of her life with these people. Whenever my sister and I tagged along at any company or accounting department sponsored party or event her coworkers seemed to know everything about us. Good and bad. Mostly bad it seemed. They all knew to congratulate me for making the honor roll or to chastise me because I had gotten caught making long distance prank phone calls. They knew about how I had stolen the "key" to the cable box and watched pornos. They knew that I had spiked the kool-aid at a slumber party with my dad's moonshine. They knew everything. I figure my mom must have walked in the door of that place each morning and immediately begun to blab about me to her coworkers and anyone who would listen all goddamn day.

Not that I didn't constantly give her the need to vent frustration.

Still I assumed that some things between my mother and I were sacred.

I was wrong.

Eventually I discovered the degree of my mothers blabbitude, much to my horror and disgust when three or four of her co-workers actually fluttered about me like buzzing middle aged mosquitoes at a 4th of July picnic (or some potluck or such) somewhere around the year of our lord 1978 and had the collective balls to talk to me in loud whispers all about how I'd recently started having my period. As if they thought we were all chummy characters in a Judy Blume novel having a lark and not a shy and stunned 11 year old girl being psychologically tortured by cackling grown-ass women who were, although very good friends to my mother, strangers to me.

I thought I would die.

I had a hard enough time talking about period related stuff with my mother (I had even begged her not to tell my dad) so it was the last thing that I wanted to discuss with my mother's co-workers. I soon discovered though that it was only the beginning of a long, one sided and yet very intimate relationship I was to continue to have with 15 to 20 women that I only ever saw or spoke to about 3 or 4 times a year. Women with whom I could barely match faces to names, but would know it seemed every single detail about my life.

After the Great Period Fiasco 1978 I confronted my mother regarding her breach of respect, trust and privacy and she merely laughed at me like I was an adorable little chit.

"When a bunch of women get together they talk", she shrugged.

"Yes, I get that, but did you have to talk about that?"

"Yes." She said. "I did. I can't help it. You're my kid and you hit a milestone and I told all my friends about it. I'm proud of you and if it makes you feel any better they all tell me all about their kids too."

It didn't make me feel any better, but over the years I got used to it I suppose and began to automatically assume that everyone at the appliance store knew my bra size, the diameter of my nipples, my preference of tampons over pads, and all about my every cramp and gas bubble. Frankly the Great Period Fiasco of 1978 was the beginning of the end of me sharing any personal information of any importance with my mom.

At this point you might think that I'm telling you all this psychotic episode inducing shit about my mom so that I may continue to use my blog as a form of cheap therapy. Well there is that. But it's also so that I can tell you about how our friend Pecan Sandie is sending her teenage son Miles to come and stay with us this week.

Long time single mom Pecan Sandie called us a few weeks ago crying and babbling about how Miles had gotten himself into a spot trouble of a sexual nature with a girl. Nobody is pregnant or diseased or anything like that. Actually it's all pretty innocent and normal stuff (by my standards) and my only beef with any of it is the fact that I FUCKING KNOW ABOUT IT AT ALL.

Suddenly all that stuff about my own mother discussing the intimate details of my life with her friends was brought screaming and unwelcome back to the forefront of my cranial lobe. I thought I had put it all behind me.

Sandie had told me over the phone all about what Miles had been up to with the girl in very graphic detail. I'll just say this - it was pretty juicy stuff - but waaaay too much information and while I wanted to be a good friend and good listener at the same time I wanted to throw the phone across the room, put my hands over my ears, shout LALALALALA and stamp around in circles until all of the damaging visual images Sandie had put in my brain went buh-bye. I was able to steer the conversation to a place with fewer details but wondered how in the hell she had come upon all of this very personal information about her son. Apparently he'd told her all about it. I shuddered.

Anyhoo... Miles is coming to stay with us because Sandie thinks that MDH is a good role model for how a young man should conduct himself with the ladies, which just makes me want to snicker, and she's hoping that Miles will be able to talk to MDH about things of a sexual nature in such a way that she as his mother is unable.

Meanwhile I'm looking forward to having Miles come and visit for many reasons. He's a great kid and it's always nice to have a house guest. Besides, MDH and I could use some more youthful influence around here. We have lots of plans to take Miles to do cool stuff while he's here, but I will leave all discussions of sex up to MDH and plan to pretend that I myself have been given no knowledge of Miles and his recent previous shenanigans.

Finally, what I realized after all this time is that talking about your life and your children with your friends is only natural. I myself, although I don't have any children, can think of oh so many embarassing personal details about the people that I love, including my husband, that I have spilled not only to my friends, but right here for public airing on this blog. So I'm guilty too, but what I have also realized is that it wasn't the fact that my mother shared stories about me with her friends that upset me so much as it was that her stupid fucking friends, who I barely knew, felt like they could openly discuss these intimate details about my own life with me.

So I'm never even going to hint to Miles that his mom said a word to me about his sex life. If anything I might talk to him about the many benefits of keeping secrets from your parents and if I have that discussion with him I won't tell his mom about it.



WendyB said...

Ugh...I recently found out too much about my stepson. Did not want.

SkylersDad said...

Opening question to Miles:
So, how is that morning wood?"

Everything has to be uphill from there...

Churlita said...

I think kids are a lot more open now. It might have something to do with watching reality shows where people air their shit for the world to hear. I would love for my girls not to tell me the stuff they divulge. Whatever happened to ignorance is bliss?

Oh, and just be happy your mom didn't have a blog back then...

CDP said...

Ha ha to Churlita! You hit on exactly the reason why I neither tell people about my children's private issues (stuff I write on the blog is just funny stuff), nor do I laugh at them when they tell me something serious. It's because my mother was a lot like yours and by the time I was 11, I'd figured that the way to deal with it was to just not tell her shit.

Gwen said...

I'm certain that Miles will appreciate your restraint.

Thanks for breakfast yesterday! It was absolutely needed and yummy.

Renaissance Woman said...

I have no doubt that Miles will appreciate your silence. But you might get to hear even more than you ever wanted now. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Yes, my mom's circle of friends at work (she's worked there for over 30 years) all congratulated me on my first period. I couldn't look them in the eye until I was about 20.

Mnmom said...

I blog about my kids in a generic, they-make-me-crazy, way. But I'm under strict orders to keep it that way. They'd kill me in my sleep if I brought up anything personal.

Anonymous said...

Don't hate me because I'm laughing at your humiliation.