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Physics has the String Theory:
Well, that’s not quite it.
That’s more like it. In a nutshell, Any of various theories in physics hypothesizing that space-time has more than four dimensions, and that some of the dimensions are exceedingly small and stringlike in shape.
In interpersonal relationships, there is the “String Along” Theory or how users and controllers keep their hold on people.
“If you’ll ___________ for me, I’ll ____________ for you.” The reciprocal ___________ doesn’t happen.
“Yeah, honest, anytime you want to go, just say the word. Oh. No not that weekend. Or that one. You know, let me get back to you.”
“You get this one, I’ll get the next time.” Yet, the next time comes around and….”Oh, hey, can you get this one?” and we hop right back on the Merry-Go-Round.
More than a few people will size us up along these lines.
You know a least a few of these people. I’ll cal them the Big Talkers and Slow Walkers (not in the “Walking Dead” sense. Can NOT watch that show. Nope, nope, nope). Promises made and never kept. They get what they want. Sometimes, you never hear from them again (depends on whether they will want something more down the line). And the times when you need a favor…nowhere to be found.
Another term: User.
Got a friend or an ex-friend who makes tons of promises and never keeps them? (If you want to be a little more optimistic, this is “operational truth” – they meant it at the time they said it. The pessimistic version? Manipulation, lying. Shitweasel) Does he/she first approach you with flattery, tons of attention, gifts, wine and dine, even. Then, the control begins to set in. The flattery gives way to lies. The attention to criticism, The gifts and wining and dining? “Why don’t you pick up the tab? Well, look at all I did/spend for you.” In some situations, when the lying and manipulation start to fail, assault and battery take over. Yes. I have described domestic abuse. ”Don’t make me do this to you.”
Oh, right: They’re made of Teflon. Anything that happens to them, any hurt (emotional, financial) done to another person is always, always, always “not their fault.” Whether a lie or self-delusion doesn’t matter. Here’s a warming sign: if you’re listening to someone talk about interpersonal difficulties and that person is NEVER at fault or the other side of the dispute is always an asshole; there is an attempted manipulation in progress. Time for your shark repellent. Your sympathy is being pulled at to pull you into line. You have been chosen as the next victim.
A friend was describing a run-in she’d had with a Big Talker/Slow Walker. The Big Talker/Slow Walker used a tale of woe to lure in her prey; illness, family issues, financial woes prior bad treatment by friends; none of it her fault. Being a kindly soul, she offered emotional support, comfort, more than a few dinners paid for.
Then, things started to shift. If the two “friends” went somewhere together, the BT/SW claimed she’d get car sick if she wasn’t driving. And she was an aggressive, angry, frightening driver. Instead of “Come With,” the trip turned into whatever the BT/SW wanted it to be. She also used the “no escape” situation to reel off a list of criticisms. And when told to “knock it off,” responded with “I’ll just leave you out here.”
My friend hadn’t gotten a pedicure in a while because her cash flow was tight and she had higher priorities. The BT/SW kept offering to give my friend a pedicure, which seemed creepy and weird. However, my friend realized that the BT/SW didn’t have a foot fetish so much as she didn’t like the way my friend’s feet looked with the aged and chipped nail polish. Control.
For a proposed party that had nothing to do with the BT/SW, my friend had an idea of what she wanted. The BT/SW began to plan a menu and games and shitload of stuff the woman whose party it was DIDN’T FUCKING WANT. BT/SW got pissy and sulky. By the way, all the promised food that was going to be prepared? Never happened. Partly because there was a falling out before the party, but the BT/SW had no intention of following through. She just made the promises.
Of course, the aforementioned falling out is now fodder for the “woe is me” story used to hook the next victim. And BT/SW has the lines in the water.
The commodity desired by the BT/SW in the previous example was control. (She has a network going and as I’m hearing second-hand, it’s beginning to blow up on her. Why? People are smartening up and getting tired of her shit).
If you suspect you’re on the losing end of a user relationship, test it. When the big promises are made, call the bluff. “I can get you into _____ any time you want.” Set a date. If you’ve been paying for shared activities, keep your wallet in your pocket when the bill comes. When the take of woe is being told in a one-sided fashion, start challenging details. If you KNOW you’re being fed a heaping spoonful of bullshit, expose it.
Deeds, not words.
I have a group of friends who have helped me out tremendously, sometimes just by listening. I have helped them out with listening, moving, making/bringing food to an event, waited in a hospital while they had surgery, helped talk them down from an agitated state, even emergency baby-sitting (ONCE). Who steps up in your life? Who DO you (not would you, but DO you) step up for? THOSE are your friends, not the BT/SWs who vanish when there’s the slightest problem or when there’s heavy lifting to be done (literally and figuratively).
My mother died on September 8, 2013. Even if you know the whole story, let me give you the three crucial words: My. Mother. Died.
There are some out in the world who are going to be tempted to jump on me because the relationship has been fractured for the past few years (and if you don’t already know why, you don’t get to hear the story. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is) and they want to censor/silence me. To them: Fuck you. She was my mother. I get to mourn and express myself in my own way. If you don’t like it, go see a therapist. And if you don’t like that answer: fuck yourself, you sniveling narcissist who probably needs a therapist AND medication.
My mother was Priscilla Tillson Thatcher. She was an Aries, a Mayflower descendant, Red Sox fan (who held a grudge against her husband for ‘disappearing” a Ted Williams autograph she got at Edaville Railroad as a child), Massachusetts native, married for 55 years to Clifford R. Thatcher, Jr., mother of 4 children (And her favorite expressions were “Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your kids.” and “I wish the Pill was retroactive”) grandmother of 5 (she liked them better. She didn’t have to raise them), an artist, a fan of cashews, the combination of chocolate and raspberry, cashews, macadamias, pecan (pe-CAHNS), NO black olives, apples and cheddar cheese as a snack, carousel horses, black licorice, cashews , and one of Robert Redford’s biggest fans, and loved garbanzo beans, orange cats, “The King and I”, “The Way We Were,” the Beatles, and Frank Sinatra (I heard “September Song” until I was damned near suicidal when I was 6. I later gave her the CD with the stipulation, “Do not EVER play this in my presence”). When making spaghetti sauce, the two of us would hover over the garlic press and inhale like a couple of cokeheads getting a fix. She hated winter (it’s where I learned it) and once the kids were out of the house, would flee to warmer climates from November until it was safe to come back (after Mother’s Day).
This is the 2 of us in 1988. I’m on the left.
If you’ve read These Foolish Things, she is not Delia. NO. Delia was a helluva lot colder towards her only child. I was one of four.
Understand: when I was little (we’re talking pre-school), she was my best friend. I remember holding our cat, Ralph (who objected because I clocked him with a hairbrush when I was 18 months old. I do not remember this incident) and having her sketch a picture. I vaguely remember seeing the sketch years ago but not since. She may have destroyed it.
For her love of carousel horses, I made this for Christmas one year:
That’s about 4 months worth of work and includes cat fur from Vicki, my Seal Point Himalayan, who insisted on being on my shoulder while I stitched.
Vicki. She liked Vicki.
That’s my Dad, Clifford R. Thatcher, Jr. I’m like him. It was something she noted when I exasperated her. “You’re just like your father!”( And that’s a bad thing? BTW, I GOT Dwight Evans’ autograph for her – had to help him spell “Priscilla”- instead of making a Ted Williams disappear. Take that, DAD!)
When the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, for those who don’t recognize the initials) had a special exhibition of Winslow Homer, I made her talk to me about those pictures. She studied him and John Singer Sargent as an art student at the Massachusetts School of Art. I do not remember her replies, but while the other members of the party drifted off, I got a guided tour from someone who knew the work intimately.
I have been to two games between the Red Sox and the Yankees (both at Fenway). At one of them (1985-1986), she was yelling at Dave Winfield so loudly, he heard her. We are Red Sox.
I do not have pictures available for this post of our miniature Schnauzers. There is a picture of Mom, 7 months pregnant, with Lily, the puppy my dad had to have, in her lap. The expression on her face is “Yup. Gonna have to kill him.” Lily’s son, Max, was Mom’s biggest fan.
I’m happy to think this is happening with Max. It’s been 29 years.
She used to look at him and say, “You are my favorite baby. You are the best child I ever raised.” Meanwhile, his actual mother would be sitting in an armchair that she’d conned me out of with a “WTF? That was ME giving birth to him and 6 siblings in the kitchen, not you.”
She had a remarkable sense of humor that would manifest itself in memorable ways. A Christmas gift of a back saver shovel (funky design that shifted the effort) was disguised as a reindeer with wrapping paper tubes for legs. One year, I gave my brother-in-law, Mike (now ex-brother-in-law) a Costco bottle of pepperoncini one year. With a pink pillow case, she helped me turn it into a pig. One Christmas, my father was given a Christmas gift and a card with instructions to “Open first.” The card read something like, “The answer is: In here.” Dad opened the present (a shoebox) and found it filled with inexpensive flashlights. In the bottom of the shoebox, she’d written, “Jesus Christ, Priscilla! Where in hell are all the goddamn flashlights?”
From her, I learned about Charlotte’s Web, A Girl of the Limberlost, John Singer Sargent, an appreciation of birds (especially wading birds like herons and egrets), and John Michener.
I also learned about loyalty and its potential costs (Again, if you don’t already know the story, tough). You know how kryptonite is toxic to Superman? Little itty bitty piece of his home planet can kill him? Same deal here. The distance was necessary or else I’d be 400 lbs. and/or dead by my own hand. Those with great potential expect it to be realized in others.
Both parents and one sister in better times.
When my dad retired from the bank to devote his energy to law, she taught herself how to use a computer (this was a woman who had had us call to make dentist appointments and do “professional/business” kinds of phone calls as we grew up). She got to be good enough to work as a legal secretary for Dad.
She is out of her distress and reunited with her husband, her brother and parents, various dogs and cats that loved her throughout her life. After a lengthy drought, she got to see the Red Sox win two World Series championships. She painted pictures not only of children, but grandchildren, Vermont, doorways, sunsets, boats, whatever caught her eye. Her work was sold in art galleries and one painting of fishing boats in North Carolina was made into a lithograph.
Priscilla Thatcher was an artist, a Red Sox fan, a Parrothead, a conservative, a daughter, a sister, a mother, (and you can add “in-law” to all of those).
And now she’s gone.
Not all attendees were human.
Polly want an autograph?
Look! I’m signing a book! That I sold! (Maverick, the scarlet macaw, didn’t buy it)
Yup, that’s me. And my book!
So, the first book signing was a success. I will let you know as soon as the next one is scheduled. OR…if you’re in Southern California (Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Riverside counties), you can host a book signing party at your home. Hostess gets an autographed copy, we have a meet & greet, maybe a little wine, maybe some cheese. Fun!
I really did it. I wrote a book all the way through (I have a collection of “stubs” in storage). I got it published. Via either e-book or paperback, it’s been distributed to over 1,200 people. It’s getting reviews (not by book critics yet, but people I’ve never met have weighed in on it). I had a book signing and sold copies to total strangers (I’m not much of a salesperson. I deeply dislike getting pressured when I’m shopping and I try to do unto others, you know?).
And this is just the the beginning…
Just a reminder:
Me. No, really that is me.
The book I’ll be selling/signing
The Green Door Gallery
207 N Broadway, Ste B-4 (lower level)
Santa Ana, CA
(Well, the map thing didn’t work out as planned)
Come on down! Bring friends! Bring cash or credit cards! Carpool (Sept. 7 is Artwalk). There are great restaurants and bars in the Artist’s Village for afterwards.
See you there!
Nearly 1400 people signed up to win an autographed copy of These Foolish Things and I would like to congratulate those who won (I will be getting them out to you forthwith).
Congratulations again! And thank you for your interest!
Hey Guys! Did you buy These Foolish Things as an e-book? Do you feel like you’re getting skunked on having an autographed copy? Well, douse yourself in tomato juice (traditional skunk remedy) and step on up.
Through http://www.authorgraph.com/, you can get my signature for your E-book! Honest and truly! You can even get it personalized!
Just follow the link, make your request and presto! (Well, I have to get the request and actually do the signing work, so not so much presto on my end), you CAN get an autograph for your e-book. Hell, I’ll be giddy doing it because I’ll think I’m so slick and cool!
Get the book (if you haven’t already):
Then find it on Authorgraph. Simple