Abigail the Passive Assertive is how she’d go down in history if passive assertive people went down in history. They don’t, but you get the point. When we met, I was the mouthy one and Gail was the doormat. We seem to have leveled each other out, more or less, over the past ten years, as I’ve taught Gail the value of standing up for herself and she’s taught me the value of doing so without a screaming match in Algebra class. True story. Every now and then, though, people push Gail just an inch too far and it’s always Feed-the-Gremlins-After-Midnight awesome.
Scene: at a bar, where Crooked Teeth has been begging her all night to come out to his truck with him, actually trying to pull her to the parking lot at one point.
Crooked Teeth: “I just want to show you my truck.”
Gail: “Really? You just want me to see your truck?”
Crooked Teeth: “Yeah. I swear.”
Gail: suggestively “Well, what if I just wanted to go out to your truck, pull down your pants and suck your dick until you cum in my mouth?”
Crooked: “Uh… what? Is this a trick?”
Gail: “Uh… yeah…duh.”
The Musician was a phase (THANK GOD) and they were never exclusive. He, however, desperately wanted them to be… on Gail’s part, while he had a mirrored headboard and multiple brands of tampons under the bathroom sink.
The Musician: “So, what? You’re out at a bar trying to pick up other guys?”
Gail: “I’m going to let you go, so you won’t have to talk to such a whore anymore.”
The Musician: “I’m just trying to get to know you and that’s hard to do when my lady is getting to know other men.”
Gail: “I’m not YOUR lady, I’m MY lady.”
The Musician: “It’s just a figure of speech.”
Gail: “So is ‘nigger’.”
See that. Gail’s a regular little Amazon when you push her too far. Overall, however, she’s a pretty passive person. We both had somewhat absent parents in our teens. My mother was busy eating candle wax, while Gail’s parents were busy bragging about her little sister. Don’t get me wrong. Gail and I both understand that they just have more common ground with Sadie and that’s why she was their favorite. It’s not that they love her more, but that they get her more. If there is a crime, it’s that they aren’t all that subtle about their preference. For example, I’m not even kidding when I reference the birthday card Gail saw displayed in Sadie’s bedroom declaring her “the best daughter two parents could ask for.” I cringe, not because of the obvious favoritism, but at ending a sentence with a preposition.
As adults, Gail and I find this hilarious. We know they love her just as much as Sadie. They just don’t connect as well with the daughter who truly had to be talked out of living in her truck a few summers ago, for no reason. As a teenager, however, Gail felt rejected and mistreated and, as is still the way of Gail, she said nothing, because familial conflict is a lot more difficult than telling off Jethro Clampett in a bar. So… enter teenage Belle, who felt abandoned and abused, and could therefore totally relate. Ultimately, we clung to each other, fumbling our way through our formative years with only another clueless teen as guidance. Considering we were both divorced by age 23, that may not have been the best path, but it was certainly better than going it alone.
Having been through all we have, Gail and I can both be accused of going Mama Bear on each other at one time or another. After I posted a blog about how overwhelmed I was with grad school, I got a text message demanding “You’d better be kidding about the cocaine.” I was. When Gail told me she met Terry on fucking Craigslist, she got an angry text message “That was wreckless and dangerous. You could’ve been super murdered and then I’d be all alone to deal with how much that sucked. Fuck off.”
Despite the must-be-fated-in-our-blood connection, Gail and I are far from the same person. As a reader of Red Pill blogs (though I don’t subscribe to the ideology), I love to call Gail “Captain” when she does any traditional male activity, just to piss her off. It’s even more fun than “Rosie the Riveter”. She generally responds with a comment about how I should be churning butter or vaccuuming in pearls. You see, we are the victims of identically broken marriages to men who weren’t men or adults in any traditional sense. Both refused to work and resorted to tears as manipulation tactics. Neither took any pride in supporting themselves and were happy to let the woman of the house do it. Gail took it for less than two years. I took it for just over four. Our reactions were exact opposites. Gail wants to take care of herself and doesn’t need a man’s help. More importantly, she doesn’t want to support a man financially. I can take care of myself as well, but I want to be with a traditional guy who understands what role a man is supposed to play: breadwinner and spider killer. I’ll gladly slip into some pearls and vaccuum in the meantime. Ironically enough, Terry, Gail’s beau, is mighty traditional. I always knew she secretly wanted a man to take care of her.
You see, Gail has a mothering tendency that is beyond normal or healthy and the death of her infant daughter three years ago didn’t help. We once had the following textersation, in true keeping with our humor-cancels-out-emotion arrangement.
Me: I was watching this documentary on penguins and thought of you. “When the female penguin loses her young, she is quick to adopt any stray and will often fight another female penguin over rights to the chick.”
Gail: Shut it, stray.
So, when Gail dates a… oh, just for fun we’ll go with musician… who smokes a ton of pot and lives a wreckless lifestyle, she can’t help but worry (despite her own tendency to fuck Craigslist truckers). She feels like the babysitter, whereas I would just feel like it’s his fucking problem when he gets arrested. In completely different ways, we have both washed our hands of men who don’t act like adults. She avoids them and I encourage them to put pepper spray in their eye: another true story and one that demonstrates this perfectly.
About two years ago, Gail’s on-again-off-again (they still said “I love you”, but didn’t sleep together) boyfriend, Cam, was at my apartment with Gail. I had just begun a new job in a different part of town than my white, wealthy, suburb, where I walk the golf course at 2:00 a.m. with no worries, and my Gramma had insisted I buy pepper spray. My Christmas tree is hot pink, y’all. When I saw pink pepper spray, I was sold. Gail has this theory that there are some things that you just don’t buy in pink. I fully disagree since my tree and my hammer and both of those guns all work fine, Captain.
Gail, however, kept insisting that the contents of my pink pepper spray were “lemon juice and glitter”, to which I responded “I don’t want either of those in my eyes, so we’re good.” I must state that Cam was about two years younger than we were, putting him at 21 during this story. Though he worked three jobs, he was pretty much 12 years old forever in a lot of his antics. The pepper spray debate continued so I jokingly asked Cam…
Me: “Hey, Cam. You wanna test my pepper spray?”
Cam: “Sure! I’ll try it!”
Me: “Seriously? I was kidding. You probably shouldn’t do that.”
Gail: “NO! Do not! We’re going to have to take you to the hospital.”
Cam: “Oh, it’ll be fine.”
Me: “Alright. Here. It’ll be a story either way.”
Gail: “BELLE! Don’t encourage him!”
Me: “What?!?! He wants to do it. Let him do it.”
Gail: “Ugh! This is a terrible idea.”
So Cam took out his knife, cut open the package, sprayed a little bit of pepper spray directly into his palm, rubbed his finger in it and touched his eye.
Then… all hell broke loose. Cam immediately declared “It works! Oh… it burns!” and leaped up to run to the sink while Gail frantically ran water… forgetting about the open knife on his lap. As he was bent over the sink, blood gushing from his nose due to his clotting disorder and high blood-pressure from the pain, I took a moment from my uncontrollable laughter to ask “Is your foot bleeding?” as blood dripped onto my floor. Only then did we realize, he’d dropped the knife on his socked foot… and that was even funnier. In my defense, Cam thought this whole thing was hilarious as well and part of the problem was that he was laughing while Gail yelled at us both that this was serious, while shoving tampons into Cam’s nose, partly to shame him and partly so he wouldn’t die.
That story pretty much sums up Gail’s entire relationship with Cam.. and the musician… and our friend Malik… and pretty much every irresponsible person she’s ever met. I just declare them to all be adults and let them do as they will. Worst case scenario, I know that’s not lemon juice and glitter.
Scene: Cam lies on my floor with an ice pack over his eyes, a bandaged foot, and tampons in his nose. Gail stews angrily while washing the bloody towels and sock.
Me: “Well… at least we know the pepper spray works.”
Cam: groaning laughter
Gail: groaning laughter “Damnit, Belle.”
Since the Great Pepper Spray Incident of 2011, Gail has pretty much steered clear of Adult Children and I credit that to the actual stray she took in, Ginger.
Gail’s all “I don’t remember her taking this picture and this is the second time she’s posted it” as she reads this, because coincidentally enough, the sewer rat Gail insists is a dog looks just like this.
I comforted Gail during her divorce. She held my hair during mine. She listened to me cry during my miscarriage. I helped her make Valentines to leave on her daughter’s grave. Maybe we’re both pretty broken, but it’s beyond amazing to have someone there who will read everything I write and send me encouraging comments, come over and cry to me when a boy uses her, listen to me rant and rave about my lunatic mother, and call me when she’s having a hard time dealing with the fact that her little girl, Grace, would have been four today. Told you she was an Amazon, because fuck I don’t know how she’s retained her spirit through that. Lucky for me, though, because it’s pretty awesome that I always have an Amazon in my corner.