Monday, October 17, 2005

Bizarre By Marriage

There is no easy way to start this... my former son-in-law was a great sperm donor and has been a pretty good father. However, he's a strange duck. From the time we met him, we were just never completely comfortable with him. That's a shame, because he's a nice person. Just different. His family? That's a whole 'nother story...

When my eldest daughter and M were getting divorced, his mother called from Oklahoma and asked if daughter could come to visit and bring the grandson. This was something daughter had been aniticpating and dreading. I felt that just because they were getting divorced was no reason to keep their grandson from them and I offered to go along for support. I'd also never met his parents before, as they hadn't made it up to the wedding.

We agreed to go see them and they generously offered to put us up at their house. Now, I won't get into all the details, but basically we got bamboozled. From the minute we got there they were both all sweetness and light. We visited about the rest of the family (he has a couple of sisters who are older) and general things. That was in the beginning. One of his sisters who lived close stopped by with her two kids and hubby in tow and they visited a bit, too. After they left, the woman I shall refer to as the EMIL (evil mother-in-law) became agitated and told us that this daughter who had just been there couldn't handle money at all and all the bills came to her house and she paid them and gave them an allowance. She mentioned the daughter's husband had a gun at home and had threatened the whole family before. Okay... not something I'd share with strangers, but whatever... Little did I know....

As evening progressed to night time, M's dad went to bed and we got the baby to bed, then we sat up talking with EMIL into the wee hours of the morning. She was worried about her son. She wanted to know what we thought was going on with him. Considering he had found another woman on the internet (out of the country,no less) and had been talking to her at night in my daughter's livingroom with no thought to how that would effect her or the baby, I'd say he wasn't doing too good. One thing led to another and we started comparing notes about M's behaviour when he was younger. Some things just didn't add up.

Things got crazy when the "G" word slipped out. I'm pretty sure I was the one who said it. It was one of those things that you felt by looking at him and talking to him, but it wasn't something you really wanted to come out and say - especially in front of his mother.

"Do you think it's possible that M is gay?" His mother looked at me like I had eaten a mouthful of shit in front of her and said, "Well, no duh! Of course he is!" WHAT?!?! My daughter and I both looked at each other. EMIL proceeded to go on and on about asking his sisters about it and how he did this and that in school and how all the girls liked him but he didn't date and he wore makeup and was the 'friend' and the 'Ducky' character - even being called that for a nickname for a time. By the time we went to bed, our minds were reeling. Daughter said she couldn't believe it... she was married to him, for goodness sake! She just couldn't believe he could hide it so well... but then again, he'd been sneaking around and getting into some other things like Dungeons and Dragons and some things she didn't really like that he told her he'd quit, but hadn't.

As the visit progressed, the next couple of days got even weirder. EMIL took us to visit with M's sisters and their families and over and over this gay issue came up and the girls just went along with it! They told us story after story and how they were sure he was, but maybe he was in denial, or didn't realize it himself. Oh, my...

Finally, the last day we were sitting around talking and M's dad was showing us some family pictures of he and his wife and different things. Just as pleasant as can be. EMIL is talking about going for a walk... and that she likes to walk... but she always takes her gun with her. HUH? Daughter and I look at each other again. What is going ON with these people?

Now I'm nervous, 'cause I really do not like guns (hunters back off, I'm okay with that)- especially in the hands of someone who seems a bit unstable. She's been just as sweet as can be this whole visit, but she's bad mouthed her kids, her grandkids, and her kids' parenting skills. She talks about M like he's five years old and how much she loves him - he's her favorite - and how much the baby looks just like him. Daughter and I have been watching out for any sign that these people might try and take the baby from us - from the beginning we were wary - one of the main reasons I went with her. There hasn't been anything to really pin this uncomfortable feeling on, though - they've been nice as can be to us. It's just this popping out of these strange statements that has us confounded!

Two hours pass. Daughter and EMIL go for a walk (sans gun, thank goodness). M's dad just keeps up the conversation with me and is asking me computer help questions and visiting very nicely. EMIL and daughter come home and start fixing some supper - we're planning on leaving right after supper and driving to Arkansas to my parents' place, about a three hour drive from there. We're almost done with supper and daughter excuses herself to finish packing. I'm going to help start clearing the table, when out of the blue M's dad says something about, "You know, we know you never liked M and you never liked us". I thought my head was going to come off my shoulders. "That's not true", I say... "We made every effort to get along with M". He continues..."Kids should stand on their own two feet. You should not be paying their bills for them." Where in the hell is this coming from? Yes, we paid a fuel bill when they lived in a house on a farm we rented because it was in our name... and we also expected the kids to pay us back! I tell him this. (Noting that EMIL is very quiet during this part of the conversation - daughter and I have figured out that M's dad doesn't know she's paying her kids' bills for them or budgeting their money- if all that is even true!)

Finally EMIL can stand it no longer and pipes up... "You come in here and accuse my son of being GAY and say all these bad things about him!" ...WTF? Weren't you the one that jumped on THAT bandwagon??? I was biting my tongue so hard I'm surprised I didn't bite it clean off!

It went downhill from there. I was sandbagged. My face and neck were as red as Rudolphs' famous nose and my heart was about to come out of my chest. Daughter finally came through with a load of things and realized with one look at me that things were not going along as well as they were when she left the table. Now she wanted to know what was going on and tried to defend me... all the time we're both keeping our voices very calm and collected while EMIL and M's dad were actually yelling at me in very loud voices! I finally had enough. I thanked them for their hospitality (yeah, I really did, can you believe it?) and we got out of there.

As we're out by the car packing things in (as quickly as possible) they had the nerve to start talking about getting our e-mail address so they could get pictures of the baby... in your dreams, psychos!!

I drove out of there like a bat out of hell. I was crying and shaking and my daughter was, too... we both were just in such shock! For them to act like such nice people for three days... and actually not only agree with us that M could be gay, but to feed us stories and information to try and prove it! Then, to turn on us at the last minute and tell us how horrid we were?

I told my daughter on that drive to Arkansas that I realized M had gone onto another woman on the internet, and who knew what was going to happen with that... but I suddenly had a lot more empathy with him for growing up in that psych ward of a home. If he and she decided to patch it up I thought I could probably accept it, seeing as I saw for the first time what he'd grown up with. It explained a lot. Needless to say, I got to Arkansas and swore I was never ever going to Oklahoma again.

M and daughter were divorced several years ago. The internet woman didn't pan out, but neither did the marriage. The trust was broken. Daughter has never been back to Oklahoma, and even though M had some money troubles and moved back down there for awhile to re-group, he came back to Iowa to be close to his son and he's never gone back to visit - or taken my grandson to visit. I think maybe his parents came up here once to see him, but it wasn't a very long visit. We were paranoid for a long time about them trying to take the baby, but then realized M didn't really want to have him exposed to that craziness either. That's one thing I give him credit for. He's got enough sense to realize that as screwed up as he is, his family is waaay worse.

Now, don't you wonder what all my kids' significant others say about us? Sometimes I do...