Friday, December 26, 2014

Don't bother asking .....

I tried to never ask for anything -- school supplies, personal hygiene items, ANYthing -- because my uncle's wife always made it clear that having to make those purchases was inconvenient and a burden for her.  I definitely learned never to ask for anything by brand name, because if I were to specify a certain shampoo or toothpaste, she'd make it a point to buy something entirely different.  To this date, I detest both Prell® and Crest® , having been forced to use them for years.

Similarly, I didn't ask for help with personal matters, because I knew she really had no interest in helping me, and I certainly didn't want to talk to her.  Still, I did ask for advice once, when I was invited to a boy/girl party by one of my high school classmates.  I was incredibly ambivalent.  On the one hand I wanted to go, to be with other kids, to -- at least for one night -- pretend that I "fit in."  On the other hand I was terrified -- that the kids wouldn't like me, that I'd make a fool of myself, that no one would talk to me.  

I decided to ask my uncle's wife, thinking perhaps she'd offer a compassionate ear and words of wisdom to help guide my decision.  The thought of asking for help was scary, almost as scary as the party, itself.

But I gathered my courage and went into the kitchen where she was in her usual spot at the table, playing her usual game of Solitaire.  I sat across from her at the table, red-faced and nervous, and stammered out my question:  "I've been invited to go to a party and I'm not sure I want to go.  What should I do?"

I had imagined her listening to me and then asking insightful questions to help me make a decision.  Instead, without even looking up from the cards, she gave me a terse response: 

She sat at the kitchen table, every day, playing Solitaire.

"Just tell them your mother says you can't go."

I waited, but when no other words were forthcoming, I stood up and quietly slunk back to my room, no more certain than before of what to do.