The final word on the "Not Listening Stick"
Note: in order to know what I’m talking about here, you have to read this post.
So on Wednesday, I went to see my stepmother S. We had a wonderful visit, spending a total of five hours together, talking and talking and talking. When we were on our way to lunch, I casually mentioned to her that I had finally seen Ladies’ Man for the first time. We got into talking about her experiences being on that set. For one thing, her particular vignette in it was a standalone scene and she didn’t interact with any of the other actresses, just Jerry. But she was on the set for a full 11 weeks before they even got to her scene. Why? Because Jerry wanted her there. So basically, she was paid to be on set for all those weeks, for doing nothing. But she got to observe.
She said she got to see all sides of Jerry — his benevolent, playful side, and the side that was, in her words, an absolute monster, insulting and humiliating people. What did he do? I asked. “He went off on these terrible tirades, yelling and saying horrible things. A lot of the women were reduced to tears.”
That’s when I first mentioned the picture I’d seen. I asked her if she remembered seeing that stick. She said she didn’t, but it wouldn’t surprise her. She then continued, talking about how he was whacked out most of the time on a combination of his pain meds and his preferred cocktail. Apparently, he would take a full-sized drinking glass and fill it with half brandy, and half milk. BLECCHH! And he would chug that like water. After watching his behavior for all those weeks, she was very nervous about what she was in for, but he turned out to be relatively respectful to her. I guess he took a liking to her. (If you saw her back then, you’d know why! Plus, she was a strong, confident woman. I think he instinctively knew not to mess with her.)
I was still curious, though. So when we got to the restaurant and were seated, I got out my phone and pulled up the photo of Jerry with the paddle. When S looked at it, her surprise was genuine — I saw her eyes pop. “Where did you find this?” she asked. Google search, I told her. Then I added, “Can you believe he actually used that on women on his sets?”
She made a wry, disgusted face, and replied, “Well, he was a rather sick individual, my dear.”
And that’s when I dropped the subject.
I wasn’t sure whether or not she was associating paddle wielders to “sick individuals,” but I didn’t want to find out. When the “s” word comes into a conversation about kinkiness, I know to bow out.
But on another note, our visit was highly satisfying. I’d been wanting to tell her something for the longest time, but never felt like the moment was right. But she’s going to be 83 this month — she won’t be around forever, and I don’t want to regret words unsaid.
We talked about when I was a kid, and how I basically got dumped on her when I moved in with her and my dad. How she bore the burden of dealing with a surly pre-teen, with driving me everywhere, with my deep hungering neediness for a mother — when she already had her own daughter, from whom she was estranged. (Her daughter went to live with her dad, shortly before I moved in with Dad and S.) It had to be tough for her, especially when her marriage to my father started falling apart.
Bottom line? I told her that I realized now how unfair that had been to her, and how grateful I was that she took it on and did the best she could for me in a far-from-ideal situation. Then I took a deep breath and said, “I loved my mother. I know she meant well, she did the best she could, and she had no one to learn any sort of parenting skills from. But… ever since I was a kid, and still, to this day, I wish you were my mother.” My throat closed at that point, and I fingered the necklace at my throat. “And I love this so much, I can’t begin to tell you.”
She smiled. She’s not the emotional, touchy-feely sort like I am. But she did say, “Oh, Erica, thank you. That’s the best compliment I’ve ever gotten.” (I can’t really believe that, but it was nice to hear.) She then added, “I wish I had given birth to both of you.” (Me and her daughter.)
So there, I said it. I know it’s a betrayal of sorts to my mother, but I can’t help it. It’s how I feel. And I would have certainly never said it to her. But I’m glad I said it to S.
After lunch, we headed back to her place to talk some more. She has the most adorable little dog, a terrier mix named Katie. This critter loves everyone, and she is so full of life and energy and joy. She ran back and forth between us, bestowing kisses. I wanted a picture with her — it was hard to get her to stay still in my lap, since she kept twisting around to lick my face and neck and her whole body was wagging. But we got one!
Isn’t she cute?? She has these enormous, soulful brown eyes, and she stares right into your eyes with them.
And here we are at another Friday. Today, John is having his dental implant put in, after having that tooth pulled a few months ago. The procedures and appointments go on and on. The good news is, his leg has been feeling better, is swelling much less, and he’s been sleeping a lot better. So he’s hasn’t been walking around half dead like he was before. There is a lot more work ahead, but at least he’s hanging in there. ♥
Have a great weekend, y’all.