Frank asked “Who was worse? Mom or our step-father?”
I was following my husband out of the room after a fun filled family money discussion with Frank. We all live together with 6 children most of them mine. My back was to Frank when he said “Oh, I had a question for you?” Innocently I turned around. “Who was worse? Mom or our step-father?”
My instant response, “You’re such an asshole.” I stood in the doorway looking at him, Forrest had stopped our exodus too and was standing behind me. “What kind of obnoxious question is that?” Really it’s like one of those Zobmondo questions where you have to chose between two equally noxious things. I hate that game.
“Seriously, which one do you think was worse?”
I hate to answer this question. Don’t think it hasn’t occurred to me before. I tend to fall back to over-analyzing things when I’m in a tough spot emotionally. “Well, mom was mentally ill and I guess you have to let some things go. There are some things she probably couldn’t be considered responsible for. But R. was a child molester, there is no excuse for fucking little girls. Accept doesn’t it kind of follow that someone who would even do that must have some kind of mental illness too?”
My husband interrupted… “You aren’t seriously trying to stand there and make an argument that it was somehow OK because he was mentally ill?”
“No,” I said, “Of course not. I don’t mean that. I’m just trying to figure out a way to explain it to you. After I told her, I was in 7th grade when I told her he molested me.” I looked at my husband. “You know, I only ever told her because I wanted to protect Mary. I figured it I told her Mary wouldn’t have to go spend weekends with him anymore and I could be sure she was safe.”
Frank cut in here, “You know statistically that doesn’t happen as much, the biological dad doesn’t go after his own kid.”
“Of course I know that, now, I didn’t back then. She didn’t know. Shit. No one knew that. No one knew much about the subject then. Anyway, I told her, just to protect Mary, and you know how badly that went.”
“Yeah” said Frank, “That was fucked up. You’ll have to write that one up for the website.”
“So telling her was a big Fail. She blamed me and Mary kept having her weekend visits . Sometimes mom would even have me ‘entertain’ him when she couldn’t be back with Mary on time when he came to pick her up.”
“What!” said my husband, “Entertain him? What the fuck?”
“Well, yeah, I know I’ve told you this one before but you always block it out. Cause it sucks pretty bad. But she’d know she was going to be late so she would tell me I had to make coffee for him and keep him company until she got there.” I moved in to the room Frank was in.
“I was terrified. I didn’t want to be breathing on the same planet with him let alone be all alone in a room, an empty house with him. So it went like this, I was alone in the kitchen with him, making coffee. He was across the room sitting at the table.” I moved to the desk in my brother’s living room and gestured to where Frank sat. “So I was here at the stove and he was about there where Frank is. I was making coffee. I was scared, really freaked out but knew I’d be in trouble if I was rude. So I was making coffee, like a good girl.”
“But I wanted to be as far away from him as I could get while still obeying mom and I really didn’t want my back to him. So I did this”. I turned my back to my brothers desk and leaned back. “That was what I was doing when mom walked in. She did her long chat with him and then he took Mary away for the weekend. When they were gone mom railed at me, screaming about what a slut I was, for leaning back on the stove like that, deliberately showing off my body.”
I walked back to the center to of the room. “So yeah, yes! I think she was worse than him. Fuck you for asking.”
My husband decided we should decamp and head back to our side of the house as he was “Going to be sick now.”
I said to Frank, “See! Now you made me make him sick. See you tomorrow. Dork.”
[Frank and I have communicated in this way for a long time. It’s such a harsh topic it is hard for me to convey in words that I wasn’t actually angry at him during this exchange, the name calling is just a reflection on our warped sense of humor. Without each other we would not have survived the childhood we got stuck with and I wouldn’t go back and change any of it if it meant not having him as a brother.]
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