One of the last times my mom & I got together and had a good talk, before her mind went, was about a year ago. It was an accident that she & I were together alone. We had made lunch plans and invited a few people to come along with us. But when I got there, it was just the two of us. We sat down at a booth anyways and I ordered a cocktail while we looked at the menu. We made small talk which eventually turned into a pretty heavy conversation by the time the food was completely consumed.
We ordered our meals and I got myself another cocktail. I was feeling a little like I needed it at that moment. I certainly wasn’t drunk but I had just enough of a buzz to be able to say what I needed to say in order to protect myself if I had to. We talked. I had brought up a story about a man I had recently met.
He was an elderly man. Maybe in his late 60’s or early 70’s. It is my nature to be friendly to most people. But this particular man, he was an immigrant from Greece I believe, he had a very thick accent. But I understood his English. I was especially friendly to him out of respect. He flirted with me & I playfully flirted back. I was working when we met and he slipped me his business card & told me quietly in a whisper that he would like me to call him. That he would like to spoil me. I took the card and graciously thanked him and without even realizing it, I agreed that I would call him. He was very happy and smiled as he left out the door. I felt a little strange about the man, but I figured that would be the last time I would ever see him so it didn’t seem too important t the time. I went back to my desk and continued working.
The next day, I was helping customers and handling phones and tending to whatever I needed to at my desk when I look up and see that elderly man again. I was surprised to see him, but I still greeted him with the same flirty, friendly conversation when he came in. He was there to return what he had purchased and purchase something else. At least that’s what he announced loud enough for the entire store to hear. But that wasn’t why he was there again, he leaned in close to me & told me in that same whisper that he came back to see me, that he cannot stop thinking about me and he wanted my phone number. That he was going to call me to talk to me about how he would like to spoil me. So, me being the type of person that can’t ever seem to say no if it means I might disappoint someone, I told him to just wait for a few minutes while I helped the other customers. In the process of tending to a phone call, I snuck into my purse and grabbed my business card with out anyone noticing. The curiosity of what this man has to say to me without anyone else being around is too fun to just ignore. So I slip him my business card and he thanks me & leaves. I go back to what I was doing at my desk. Maybe an hour goes by and I hear my cell phone ringing in my purse. I think nothing of it and keep working. But the phone just keeps on ringing again and again. I look at the number and it’s one I don’t recognize. So I slip out away from my co-workers and accept the call, thinking it may be one of my daughters or something else that needed my urgent attention. I say “hello?” and it’s that man. He asks me if I can talk. I let him know that I won’t be off for a couple more hours and that I will call him on my way home. We hang up and I go back inside & the rest of the afternoon was quiet. I close up the office for the night and I am escorted to my car since it’s a bad neighborhood and by 6 p.m. in the Fall it’s pitch black outside. I get in my car and begin the hour long commute home. I had my music up and I was feeling good. Work went well. Money in the bank. My kids weren’t hounding me for anything. I just enjoyed the drive home, even in heavy traffic. I completely forgot about the promise I made to that man about calling him on my way home. But it wasn’t too long after I pulled into my garage and went inside my house that my phone rang. It was him again. I answered the call quickly and apologized for not calling him yet even before he had a chance to scold me for it. He accepted my apology and asked me how I was. He then went on to say how beautiful he thinks I am and that he would like to have dinner with me. I said that I didn’t know about that. He then went on to ask me what my measurements are and added that he wanted to spoil me with Victoria’s Secret bras and panties and new dresses and shoes and flowers and chocolates and jewelry. I was flattered but felt a bit awkward about the whole thing. I immediately thought “what does he want from me?”. Obviously, he’s a man. Men want sex. And here I was flirting with him, giving him the impression that he could possibly have a chance at having sex with me. Plus, I gave him my number! What was I getting myself into? I told him “no thank you” and he begged and begged and told me he needed to see me again, that he thinks he loves me and I felt horrible about it so I told him I would think about it and let him know, just hoping that it would buy me time for him to lose interest in me & just go away. It worked for the moment and we hung up. I felt bad, but at least I got him off the phone and maybe my plan will work. Well, the next morning, on my way to work, he called again. I didn’t answer it. He called several times that day, leaving me long messages, asking me to call him. Telling me he loves me. That he bought me gifts and wants me to have them. I was really uncomfortable about it now. The calls didn’t stop. For months. It’s been nearly a year and a half now and I still get calls from him occasionally. But it’s died down now.
I learned my lesson on that but what I really was caught off guard about was my mothers reaction to this story. She told me that I needed to meet the man. That I should take his gifts. Maybe even have sex with him, that he could possibly take care of me financially the rest of my life.
I couldn’t believe it. She said it straight-faced, even with a harsh tone. As if she was insisting that I meet him.
She told me in that same tone, that I needed to stop running around with losers and pick a good one that has money and marry him as soon as possible since I am not getting any younger. She added that she was disappointed in me that I haven’t figured that out yet & that I work too hard when I shouldn’t have to.
I was shocked & hurt. I started to cry. I always cry.
She didn’t change her tone and almost looked at me with disgust because I was emotional about it.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It all made sense to me right then & there. All those times my dad would tell me that he never had to worry about me & my future, that I was sitting on my retirement. I never understood it fully until that moment. I heard what he said, but I never knew my parents were actually serious when they said it. They fully believed that all I had to do in life was be pretty and give up sex in exchange for my financial security. I was hurt. I felt cheated. Cheated out of having a life rich with accomplishments and successes. Rich with a beautiful family that loves one another because they are good, morally correct, hard working, compassionate people that everyone enjoyed to be around. Instead, I was raised to use a man for what he can provide me with in exchange I would just be his whore he’s purchased, to be treated as such. And I’m supposed to be okay with it???? And here my mom sits, right in front of me, disappointed that I am struggling financially, as a single mother, because I divorced my husband because I was unhappily married and clearly in it for the financial stability rather than in it because I loved him. I tried to keep my composure and was respectful to my mom and played along as if she was right. I threw in my disapproval of what she was saying in a tactful way, but in order to avoid making a scene there by yelling at her through my tears about what I really thought of her plan for raising a daughter, I kept it in and we paid the bill and walked outside. We exchanged a hug and said goodbye.
I got into my car and watched her pull away. I could see the look of victory on her face as if she just proved to me that she has been right all along, and I’m glad she thought that because it meant she still believed my lies. I smiled as I sat & thought about what a lowly waste of skin someone must be to raise a child to purposely take advantage of another human being and I was proud of myself & my strength to not have followed her lead. I couldn’t and wouldn’t ever treat any man the way she treated my Dad. That example alone, made me do just the opposite for my life.
I love men & I don’t see them as a way to survive or to benefit in anyway. I have never dated a man that has more than me. I prefer that they don’t. But in her eyes, I liked dirtbags. Or losers. But to me, they were men with rich character & loyalty to the people they love. They had nothing like I had growing up, but they had more than I could ever buy with any amount of money.
I feel robbed. I was robbed. It makes me angry but like always, I find the positive in it. I am a better person inside than she ever was and stronger too because I didn’t follow along with that path. I chose my own path and it’s been hard. A lot harder than the path she chose. But that’s not admirable to me. What’s admirable to me is the fact that I don’t need anyone’s handout. I don’t need to give up my sex to a man I don’t love. I don’t have to wear a fake smile or pretend that my life is happy & fun. I smile because I am happy and I love men for who they are. I have my own shit and I don’t need anyone to pay my way. I think that’s more admirable. I’m stronger than I think a lot of others are. Things I’ve been through would bring a lot of other people to their knees. I don’t know exactly where it comes from. But I’m proud that I have it in me. My life has been beautiful and fun once I was able to find my strength to leave my husband and figure out everything on my own. It wasn’t easy. But worth every bit of struggle.
So mom, there you have it. That’s what I really would have said if I were a rude uncaring daughter. Kinda the daughter you tried to raise me to be. But I have class and that’s not something you can teach, it’s also something you can’t ever take away from me.