Jun 122014
 

We reconnect.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for us, both separately and together. We weathered awful anniversaries, family health scares, work drama, personal loss, and relationship crap — all from our respective corners, each not wanting to call on the other for fear of adding to the burden. There hasn’t been much beyond cursory communication (what little we had crossed wires), but there’s shared understanding and empathy.

We sit a while and catch up, filling each other in on the details of the week that passed. I am struck by how much I miss him, even when we’re in the same room.

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We talk about our parents — my mother and his father — their weird religious inclinations, tragic flaws, and respective histories of bad decision-making.

He asks how people avoid ending up like their parents. It’s a rhetorical question, but I have an answer anyway. I explain my detailed plan to avoid becoming like my mother — it’s evidence I’ve simultaneously won and lost the competition for having the more toxic parent. It’s not a victory I’m proud of, but I don’t think he understands where I come from or what I’m made of. I’m not sure it matters.

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We watch porn and eat pizza at my kitchen table.

J considers himself a connoisseur. I am not. I use pornography, but I wouldn’t say I enjoy it. I mean, I do, but only when it serves an immediate purpose.

We take turns finding clips and videos that are ‘favorites’ or ‘go-tos.’  In the process, we realize that watching porn with someone else is significantly less hot when you find yourself explaining why you like it (or why you thought you liked it) to justify your endorsement. Mostly, it just seems silly, or contrived, or bloodless, or just plain boring.

None of the actors seem to like each other or dislike each other — there’s no exchange of energy — just actions and reactions disconnected from anything else.

With the sound muted, I make up dialogue for the actors, mostly dictations of grocery shopping lists of mundane items. A slap across the face underscores a reminder to pick up soy milk. A violent kiss stresses the importance of 12 grain bread and promises 7 grain bread will be punished. An enthusiastic spanking is punishment for getting regular kitty litter instead of clumping. woman slapping man across the face

DOMINANT:
Say it, bitch. [slap]

SUBMISSIVE:
I’ll get kitty litter!

DOMINANT:
[slap] Wrong answer! What kind of kitty litter?

SUBMISSIVE:
The… the clumping kind, Ma’am!

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He wants to know what I think about a new piece he’s working on. He puts the plans in front of me and gives me time to look them over. He resumes browsing pornography and I mull over the designs for some time before I realize he’s watching me. We both know I can’t hide my thoughts — my expressions give me away.

But this time, I’m not so self-conscious about what plays across my face. I’m excited about the project — I like it better than his last, but not quite as much as the one that came before that. I’m interested — I have questions and responses.

When I gather my thoughts and finally look at him, his expression is tender, but amused — I imagine the broadcast of my thought process was animated.

I don’t react to his expression, but instead, I attempt to articulate a question about the work.

He doesn’t respond right away and his facial expression is unchanging. He heard me, but he’s not listening… and I don’t care. For once, his expression betrays him, and in this fleeting moment, I’m in love with knowing he sees me as I am.


composite image based on “Dick Slap”. Image licensed under Creative Commons (according to Google) for use, sharing, and modification for non-commercial projects.

  13 Responses to “conversations on porn, projects, and parents”

  1. This was amusing and very sweet to read. :)

  2. I salute you for breaking the chain of toxicity. It takes self-awareness and deliberate intention, which you have in spades.

    This is such a tender piece, my heart both ached and throbbed.

    • Thank you for the kind words and the vote of confidence, Night Owl. :) I’m trying my best, but sometimes it seems like nature (genetics) and those 15 years of “nurture” are damn near impossible to overcome.

  3. As I get older (and older) I think about my own parents a lot and its dawned on me how little I really knew about them . I was too busy carving my own way through the ups and downs of career , love/marriage/raising children to think of these people who still had their own ambitions , opinions, depth of life experience ,and yes lives that didn’t include me.

    And now I have children and grandchildren I think how little they really know about me , or want to know.
    And that’s good. I want them to make their own mistakes without me looking over their shoulder.

    So don’t think of them as “toxic” Don’t even think of them as parents. Look at them as people . Would you want to get to know them if they weren’t your parents ?

    • So don’t think of them as “toxic”

      Ha! I’ll take that under advisement.

      Would you want to get to know them if they weren’t your parents ?

      My mother? No.

  4. I love your finish… ‘to be seen as you are’. So much to that simple statement.

    The fake dialogue is hilarious..all the more so because I brought home unclumping litter once by mistake. What was that movie, where they are in a restaurant and making up what they think the couples are saying to each other? Was it Date Night?

  5. Always amusing, and I especially like when you’re endearing as in this piece. I suck at lying, for the reason of my face is too easily read. Glad you could give him some positive faces, and of course, no matter what, he’s always looking at one he adores.

    • I suck at lying, for the reason of my face is too easily read.

      I know, right? I hate this. It’s not that I’m lying per se, but sometimes I’d just like to be a little less honest about what I’m thinking.

  6. It’s a rhetorical question, but I have an answer anyway. I explain my detailed plan to avoid becoming like my mother

    I’m not the only one! …I’m not sure how I feel about that. My plan is fairly simple (basically I thought about the personality traits that I found most toxic about my mother and as much as possible made myself the opposite), but I’ve put some serious thought into it and I’ve never heard of anyone else doing that. It’s kind of nice to know I’m not the only one who has done that, even though I wish you didn’t have to.

    So don’t think of them as “toxic”

    Wow. No. There is precisely one person here who is an expert on D’s parents. That would be D! Neither you nor I have any business whatsoever telling her what to think about her parents. And I have a special hate-on for people saying that you shouldn’t call toxic parents toxic because it is really, really hard to admit that your parent, the person who is supposed to love you unconditionally, is bad for you. Nobody does that on a whim, it’s the product of countless hours of soul-searching and angsting about it. If D says her mother is toxic, she goddamn well is.

    To be clear, that’s the diplomatic version of what I’m really thinking. I am trying very hard not to be an asshole because this is D’s blog, not mine.

    • My plan is fairly simple (basically I thought about the personality traits that I found most toxic about my mother and as much as possible made myself the opposite), but I’ve put some serious thought into it and I’ve never heard of anyone else doing that.

      Mine is slightly more complex — there are friends involved, and a series of behaviors that my friends see in me, they are to send me letters I’ve written to my future self. I’ve already written the letters and given them to friends — if they see the behavior, they’re to give me the letter(s).

      The letters are reminders of what my mother is (lest I forget), and reminders that she wasn’t able to see what she was doing to herself or those around her.

      My hunch is that if I go down her path, I won’t be able to recognize my own toxicity, and if so, I won’t listen to friends or loved ones who try to help/stop me. I might listen to my former self, though… so I’ve written to future me… and the bottom line is to get help. It’s a kind of trigger-set intervention for myself. (Weird, huh?)

      I realize that sounds drastic, but I think it’s the only shot I’ll have at not destroying myself and everyone I love IF I do end up like her.

      it is really, really hard to admit that your parent, the person who is supposed to love you unconditionally, is bad for you. Nobody does that on a whim, it’s the product of countless hours of soul-searching and angsting about it.

      It is — it’s gut-wrenching, and awful, and isn’t something I’d wish on anyone. I love my mother, but she’s not a good person anymore. I love her for who she used to be, and what she could have been, but not for what she is right now.

      To be clear, that’s the diplomatic version of what I’m really thinking. I am trying very hard not to be an asshole because this is D’s blog, not mine.

      Ha! Thank you, Stabbity. And for future reference, bring it on. No need to be diplomatic here. :)

      (Also, thanks for the comment — it helps more than you know.)

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