Mourning My Imaginary Gay Son

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7, 2014 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

Recently I got a lot of Facebook love for a quip I made about wanting to turn my son gay. It was in reference to someone else’s snark about how the god botherers are worried everything will turn their kids gay. It was meant to be satirical, so like all good satire it was almost entirely true.

“Lemme tell you, I’ve tried and tried to make my son gay. I raised him in San Francisco. I never put him in sports. I encouraged music and drama. I made him watch Cabaret… nothing. The damn boy insists on being straight. I put him through 9 years of episcopalian boys’ school, for fuck’s sake. Even though we are atheists! I’ve tried to explain that if he insists on being a musician, he could use a husband to support him. I’ve exposed him ad nauseum to the gay agenda. Nada. Now I’ve got a long haired, neon skinny jeans wearing, guitar playing straight teenaged boy on my hands, with nothing to look forward to but years of *girlfriends*. GIRLFRIENDS. The very thing I wanted to avoid.

I am here to tell everyone, I am living proof that you can’t make a child gay.”

Every detail there is actually true, except that I never would try to make my son be anything. (Also, he did do one year of soccer in 1st grade, but that was his father’s fault. And he hated it.) It has always seemed to me an absolutely unforgivable parental abuse to deny one’s own child for being gay. Or straight. I would really struggle if one of my kids came out as Republican, but I can’t see disowning them. Thankfully the capacity to use logic and reason seems to be somewhat genetic, so neither has shown any dangerous conservative tendencies. But I would still love them.

I hope.

Before I became a mother I was confused as to why even some liberal parents would hope their kids didn’t turn out gay. I was told that it was because they wouldn’t wish them to be discriminated against, which makes some sense, but never really washed for me. However, your perspectives on parenting issues often do change significantly after actually becoming a parent, so once my baby boy was born I wracked my brain trying to decide if it would bother me, even the slightest little bit if he turned out to be gay. I examined numerous scenarios, and I just couldn’t see a downside. I wouldn’t just accept a gay son, I think I’d be happy about it. The statistics on the percentage of the population that is gay are questionable, but it is pretty safe to say that the odds of getting lucky are against you. Only a small percentage of mothers are fortunate enough to get a gay son.

Periodically as he grew I would revisit the question in my mind. Would it bother me? At all? And all I could think is “What is not to love?” I wouldn’t have to deal with teenaged girlfriends, that is one big plus. I was a teenaged girl, and I knew plenty of them, and in general? Not a fan. Ditto that I would not have to worry about PREGNANT teenaged girlfriends. Big plus. He is very good with children, so it is likely he will want to be a dad, but that is hardly even an issue anymore. Gay guys have strong networks of friends, and a wonderful culture. And they love their moms. I could SO live with that.

I fantasized about my gay son. He would be gorgeous, of course. He would always know he was accepted by his family, so he would be unconflicted about his sexuality. He would have a series of fun boyfriends, like Lorenzo, who would do my hair. We would go out to tea, my gay son and I. And sometimes brunch, so long as they serve late. We are NOT morning people. Eventually he would meet a nice, quiet boy with a good paying, yet meaningful career. Perhaps a pediatrician. And even though my son would sometimes forget to call me, Josh would be the type to keep in touch and send me endless pictures of the grandchildren.

Sigh.

Of course we love the children we have, not the ones we imagine. Yet for years I tried to ignore the little signs that he might be straight. I told myself that there was plenty of time for him to discover the truth about his orientation, yet I think I always knew. My dream died about a year or so ago when we were backing up his laptop and found some porn in his browser history. Straight porn. I was a little bit crushed. I thought he might just be experimenting, but I knew the odds were not in my favor. I live in San Francisco. I grew up in a gay resort community. My gaydar is above average for a basically straight woman. I had to face the fact that my sweet little boy was straight. His tastes in clothing are certainly… different. He is definitely not a macho guy. He still hates sports and wants to be a musician. He wears his hair long these days and has a wry, artistic sensibility. He doesn’t care what people think of how he dresses, or behaves. He is unconcerned with being popular. He plays guitar. And sings. On stage. In front of people. He is an unabashed nerd.

He is really, really cool.

Holy beer-battered Christ on a stick, I have inadvertently created teenaged girl catnip.

Fuck.

So I utterly love the boy I have. Yet there is a part of me that mourns the gay son I don’t have. It hardly seems fair that there are women out there who are lucky enough to hear the words, “Mom, I’m gay.” and instead  of being properly grateful, they turn him out of their home. Those mothers don’t deserve to have a gay son.

But maybe, somewhere out there, there is an unloved gay boy who needs a mom.

We could do brunch.

The Sibling Wars: Drone Strikes

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2014 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

Now those of you who have been playing along at home know that He Who Shall Not Be Named has another child aside from mine. The child in question is a little girl who is now about 18 months old, and from photos I have seen, is quite adorable. I have not actually met her, or her mother, but I have been in occasional contact with said mother. As fellow baby mommas and veterans of HWSNBN, we have certain interests in common. I actually envy her, as she got out relatively early. But I have absolutely nothing against her or the little girl. I do not believe in punishing babies because their father happens to be an idiot.

Tuki, on the other hand, holds no such qualms. From day 1 of Baby’s existence she has been feeling affronted. Her father, in a stunningly tone deaf feat of being completely, predictably himself, chose to give his new daughter the same middle name as his previous daughter. I have no doubt that he thought that this would somehow tie them together… but if he had ever once paid the slightest bit of attention to Tuki’s personality he would have known to ASK HER FIRST. So (Surprise!) she was royally pissed to have her name “stolen” by the new baby. My attempts to explain that it was actually stolen by her father have fallen on deliberately deaf ears. As far as she is concerned human babies are loud, smelly, annoying and suffer from a distinct lack of fur. On the one hand, as a parent of a nearly teenaged girl, I like to encourage such opinions. On the other hand, I don’t really want her to take out her annoyance on an innocent child. So I find myself in the odd position of championing this baby who belongs to someone else, and trying to get Tuki to see reason. It doesn’t matter one whit if it is “fair” or not that Baby exists. She does. It isn’t her fault. She doesn’t deserve a big sister who constantly bemoans her existence.

Of course there is someone else whose existence is bemoaned by Tuki, and that is of course her brother. Basically this girl would strongly prefer to be an only child, and if only the universe would succumb to her will, it would be so. They are in a near constant state of squabbling, most of which seems (to me) to be driven by Tuki being annoyed at anything and everything that he does.

Most of it… but even the most tolerant and oblivious of brothers is going to fight back somehow. And, well… he is human. So he goads her. In the style of brothers from time immemorial if something annoys her, he does it over and over again. And she is SO easy to annoy! Apparently he does this more when they are at their father’s apartment, because it is tiny and they are all living in each other’s laps. And of course I hear about every offense in intimate detail as soon as she comes home. Just as I hear exhaustively about all the things that Baby does to her that drive her crazy, as if she expects an 18 month old to act with malicious intent.

18 month olds do not act with malicious intent. And I think that deep down she knows that.

14 year old brothers, on the other hand, certainly do.

The other night I was chatting with Lamp, and I mentioned that I am torn between bowing to Tuki’s desire to spend less time with Baby (i.e. get me to ask her father to allow me more days per week), and wanting her to work out her feelings in that regard. Lamp agreed that she does need to do so. He, himself, is quite fond of Baby and enjoys playing with her. He told me that it probably isn’t helping matters any that he has been teaching Baby to do things to annoy Tuki on purpose.

My quiet son had a bit of a sly smile on his face when he explained that he has taught his toddler sister to give him high fives. Which he now has her do with him. Every time she does something that makes Tuki angry.

He said he considers it a long term investment.

That’s no lady, that’s my mom!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 29, 2014 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

During an amusing session of online banter I found myself engaged with several other persons with whom I have no tie in “life”, but with whom I share at least one common interest, namely all being fans of a certain writer. The conversation had veered wildly off topic and a few of us made a succession of rather bawdy comments, at which point someone said, “How do all you ladies know so much about *insert topic here*??? I’m coming over with some beer!”

Ladies.

Prior to that point I may or may not have noticed that all the participants were female (other than the last commenter), but it had not seemed important to me. I hold no rancor for the guy in question either. He was trying to be funny just as the rest of us were. He wasn’t making any sort of value judgement or even making a skeevy pass. I don’t care about that stuff. It is all online anyhow, and I have a really thick skin when it comes to humor. Plus I was the one who took the jokes in a vaguely sexual direction. I certainly can’t complain if someone else goes there. One thing I try hard not to be is a hypocrite.

Still. Ladies.

I AINT NO LADY!

This isn’t the first time I’ve run up against this recently. Another online friend, who is extremely feminist in his leanings, posted a meme talking about what he finds sexy in a woman. The point of it was that the things that are really sexy aren’t the things that are played up in the media, but whatever. One item on the list was “an innocent looking lady who can swear like a sailor.” And I rankled. I did.

Why, I can hear you asking? What is wrong with calling a woman a lady? Isn’t it a compliment?

Well, it IS meant to be. The witty banter I engaged in this evening was on a feed that tends to skew somewhat older than I. I recognize the fact that the use of that L word is intended to be flattering, or at least neutral. Which is why I didn’t actually say anything at the time. I don’t like to get into it with strangers, and I hate making people feel bad, even to make a point. That was neither the time nor the place.

Still. I aint no GODDAMN lady.

Why? Because it annoys me that the fact of my gender should somehow exclude me from any body of information. It annoys me that I am supposed to pretend ignorance on subjects that “aren’t fit for a lady.” It annoys me that even in this day and age “innocence” is considered a virtue, when to me innocence is another word for ignorance. Why is it feminine to be uneducated? On any topic? Why are there words I am not supposed to know? Or supposed to demurely pretend not to know? Why is it somehow sexy to secretly know these words, but appear not to?

I am by nature a curious person. I am. I want to know things. Often the things I want to know are not comfortable things. They are not necessarily palatable things. But they are true things, to the extent that I can make them so. I don’t think ignorance of ugliness is protection from ugliness, but I guess that is just me.

I guess I am just the kind of mom who watches Family Guy with her kids, no matter how old they are, and then answers any questions that may come up. I answer them honestly, and in detail. Until they tell me to stop. This is how I do it. I know it isn’t how most people do it. So I’m the kind of mom whose 10 year old daughter asks me to please stop talking about the best way to dispose of a body when we are in public. I can accept that.

But I am no fucking lady.

Don’t make me angry… you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry…

Posted in Uncategorized on January 23, 2014 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

So the first thing you need to know for this story is that Tuki wears a poncho. As in wears it all the time. As in I’ve mended it three times and made myself really proud by refinishing the “brass” plastic buttons using fingernail polish.

She wears it to school.

She wears it on stage.

You can’t get her out of it.

It was really a masterful buy on my part, as I ordered it without first consulting her. That is normally not something one wants to do. She is really picky and pretty unpredictable. I ordered it because I liked the pseudo military styling, and because she really needed a new light jacket. It was a huge relief when she loved it. Other people had complained that because it is a knitted material, like a sweater, that it stretched, but in our case it seems to just keep growing with her. She has been wearing the thing for about two years now.

Jump to Christmas time when my father asked me if I thought she would like a new poncho. I was not certain. After all, love of current poncho does not equate to love of all ponchos. But he decided to order one he thought she would like. He found it on eBay, and it was shipped from the UK. It cost about $30, and shipping was free, so naturally it arrived late. Which was not really an issue. She doesn’t mind late gifts. The problem became apparent first to my mom, who opened it. She took one look at it and said, “It’s tiny!” My dad pointed out the label that said 9-10 Years. My mom said it was obviously mis-sized, so they would have to take it back. My dad pointed out that the size on the label was indeed the size he had ordered, so he didn’t think the company would take it back. My mom pointed out that labels are sometimes wrong.  My dad wanted Tuki to try it on. My mom demonstrated the tininess by showing how it would not come close to fitting over her head. My dad wanted Tuki to try it on. My mom called me and told me it was tiny. I said to send it back. My dad wanted Tuki to try it on. My mom said she was absolutely sure it wouldn’t fit anyone over the age of four. My dad wanted Tuki to try it on.

It was mailed to me.

I took one look at it and knew it would never fit. I told my dad to send me the payment info, and I would deal with it. He still wanted her to try it on, so I waited until she returned from a vacation trip. It would not fit over her head. However, she DID like it… if only they would send one that wasn’t toddler sized. My dad sent me the ordering info. The receipt was signed by “Vilma”. I began very nicely.

——————————

Dear Vilma,

 
My father, David Hathorne, purchased a lovely poncho from you (reference below) as a Christmas gift to my daughter. Sadly, it is very, very much too small. This is somewhat confusing as she is a rather petite 10 year old, not at all a large girl. However, the poncho we received, although marked 9-10, will not even fit over her head, and if it were forced would only just barely cover her shoulders. The item looks to me to be sized for a 4 year old at best.
 
As I said, it is a lovely item. We would love to have one that would fit her. Please inform me as to the best way to proceed.
 
Best,
 
Alicia Hathorne
——————————

Hi there,

I’m very sorry, but we do not have a bigger item in stock. As our return policy, we offer a refund if you are unhappy with your goods in any way. If you wish to post item back we will happily return the money you paid once we receive the item. If you do wish to return the item, please make sure it is returned in the condition it was sent. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Kind regards,

 Vilma Simkiene

 Lotmart UK Ltd

——————————

As this item was very seriously mis-sized, please send me a shipping label for return post. 

Best,
Alicia
——————————
Now it is at this point when Vilma must have bumped me to her supervisor, because my next email comes from “Valdas”.
——————————
Hi there,

 I’m very sorry, but we do not provide return labels to USA. As our return policy, the buyer is responsible for the return postage costs.

If there is our mistake we will return the shipping cost to you once we receive the item back.

Kind regards,

 Valdas

 Lotmart UK Ltd

Unit 7B, Midas Business Center, Wantz Road, Dagenham, Essex, RM10 8PS, United Kingdom

——————————

NOW I AM ANNOYED!

——————————

Dear Valdas,
 I am not certain what you would consider being your mistake. The fact is that the label on the product does say 9-10 years. It is also a fact that the actual garment would never fit anyone over the age of 4. However, I can’t prove this to you without also shipping you my 10 year old, which while tempting, would violate laws in both our countries. At least I assume so. I am not up to date on UK postage law, but here in the states they had to crack down on that sort of thing after several people got into the habit of mailing their toddlers to Grandma’s house.
 
To reiterate my previous letter to Vilma, this is not a case of buyer’s remorse. We actually like the product, or we would if there was a sufficient amount of it to cover a good sized vole. I understand that the problem most likely originated in the factory, by mis-sizing the product, and that you are merely the middleman trying to sell it. However, you are NOT going to be able to sell it again to another 9-10 year old unless what they are really shopping for is a hat. I would be perfectly happy to toddle off and pay to post this to you except for two things: 1) It was a gift. At this point I am paying for NOT having a gift for my daughter, and 2) the quality of customer service received so far does not reassure me that my father would be seeing a refund before Essex is inundated due to Global Warming let alone MY receiving a refund on postage.
 
Now I am more than happy to send you photos of my daughter with this “poncho” perched on her head like an oddly symmetrical headscarf, but I am afraid that at this point I am going to have to recommend that my father request his refund from PayPal and resort to the only recourse of the eBay buyer… the dreaded feedback. But he WILL NOT be the one writing it. I will. If possible I will include the photos.
 
Or, perhaps you could see your way clear to sending me a return mailing label.
 
Kind Regards,
 
Alicia
——————————
At this point I really don’t care any more about sending the damn thing back. Now I am just doing this for my own amusement. I am therefore somewhat surprised to hear back from Valdas.
——————————
Hi there,

 Can you please send us photos of your daughter with this poncho?

 Kind regards,

 Valdas

——————————

 Of course I got this email on Monday when Tuki is at her dad’s. I am cursing myself for not planning ahead and taking the photos at the time of the original threat, but I really didn’t expect to hear anything ever again. So I quickly sent the following:

——————————

Dear Valdas, 

I am so pleased that you replied. Unfortunately my daughter is away for the next two days. Please be assured that a complete photo log WILL be forthcoming by no later than Wednesday evening, PT.
 
However, to show that I am serious, please accept this photo in the meantime of the only family member who is able to get the product over his head.
 
Kind Regards,
 
Alicia 
p.s. Apologies for the photo quality. It was hard to get him to hold still and hold the phone at a reasonable distance. I am hopeful, but not in any way certain, that this will not be a problem when photographing my daughter.  Fingers Crossed.
IMG_0537
——————————
Then, as I had promised (I always keep my promises), I sent this:
——————————

Hello there,

 
So, my daughter is 55 inches tall and weighs 70 lbs, which is dead average according the the government charts for the US. I doubt there is an appreciable difference in the UK. Here you see the extent to which she is able to wear the poncho. The arm holes are here roughly at the height of her neck. Even if she were able to get it on properly, these would be just below her shoulders and useless.
IMG_0538
Here you can see a closer shot.
IMG_0539
Here she is, looking rather adorable. As I said, it does make a rather good headscarf. 
IMG_0540
Kind Regards,
 
Alicia
——————————

Hi there,

Thank you for the pictures. We have refunded you in full for the unsuitable item, you do not have to return it. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

 Kind regards,

 Valdas

——————————

VICTORY!!!

All for $30.35.

Law and Order: SFOh my god I’m glad that was over quickly

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2013 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

His first mistake was being named Darby. Then he had a Red Monkey.

So I got called in for jury duty. This was the first time since my Tuki was little that I’ve been called, and I didn’t think I could get away with the mommy exemption for a 10 year old and a 14 year old, so I was stuck going in. I actually wouldn’t have minded at all at another time of year, but I was worried about sitting on a long trial over the holidays. I’ve only got the kids with me until Christmas this year, and then they are off with He Who Shall Not Be Named for two weeks. I didn’t want to miss the whole vacation. I considered many ways I could make myself look ineligible, and I probably could have, but in the end my basic aversion to lying kept me in the jury pool.

Initially I was pretty worried about my holiday plans. A couple hundred of us were in the potential juror holding pen on Thursday morning when we were told that the room was going to serve as a temporary courtroom for choosing the jury on a lengthy trial. Fuck. The judge came in and spoke for a while and told us the trial would last until at least the middle of January, so anyone with reasons that they wanted to be excused needed to fill out a request form at the outset. He said that of course the chances of actually being picked for the final jury were slim, but that he would not be listening to excuses after they began the jury selection process. He also warned that being excused from his trial would not necessarily mean being excused in general. Some people would be asked to be in the pool for a different trial, based on what their excuse was. So I decided to see if I could play the childcare card. I didn’t want to risk being on a long trial, even if the chances were slim of being chosen. I asked for an excuse based on the fact that my 10 year old was already home on Christmas Vacation, and that asking Mark to watch her would be a hardship. (They didn’t need to know that she spent the day I was gone teaching herself to make Jammy Dodgers.)

So I did get excused from the Long Trial. I heard rumors that it was a murder trial… did I mention that this was the criminal court building? Even though under ordinary circumstances I’d have really enjoyed a murder trial, I was happy to be let off. Downside: I was asked to return after lunch. No general excuse for me. And then after lunch ALL of us who were asked to return were sent down the hall together to be the jury pool for a different trial. Yep. Every single potential juror had made some sort of case for being excused. Not one of us wanted to be there. We were given the standard rigamarole about picking an initial group of 24 to be weeded out in the process of jury selection. The seats were numbered and people were asked to sit in the seat in the order in which we were called. One guess who was called as Juror #1. At that point I was resigned to my fate.

Jury selection took about 30 minutes. The judge told us it was unbelievably short. I think they kicked off about 5 people and were done with it. The two bright spots were that the judge promised the trial would be over quickly. He told one potential juror with plane tickets for this coming Thursday that she was certain to make her flight. (Although the attorneys kindly booted her anyhow.) The other bright spot was that this judge doesn’t hear trials on Fridays. So we were selected on Wednesday and the trial began on Thursday to resume on Monday and go for the presumably short duration.

So. Yay Me. Juror #1.

At least the seat was in the back row.

I could never have been on a trial that lasted longer than two days. Trying not to form a premature decision was hard. Being unbiased was harder, because the defendant’s name was Darby, and that is almost too douchey for words. Not talking about it was torturous, but even worse was the admonition not to look anything up. I can barely make it through a TV episode without looking something up on the internet. I couldn’t. Even. Google. I might as well have been living with stone knives and wearing bearskins. The pain. The horror…

Anyhow, I won’t go though a point by point of every tiny detail. The defendant was arrested for a DUI. The SFPD predictably screwed up the paperwork, but not so badly that it could not go to trial. The ADA was so young he looked like he was conducting a high school mock trial. He stood there at the desk in a suit that his mommy probably picked out and smiled and made eye contact with each juror, just like he was taught in lawyering class. The defense attorney looked like Ned Beatty circa Homicide: Life in the Street, and he didn’t seem to give a crap what the jury thought of him. The judge reminded me of Joe Biden. Most of the time he looked bored, unless he was telling the ADA how to do his job. (“We have overhead projectors for these things. You might consider finding one. Just saying.”) There weren’t any spectators in the gallery. Nobody seemed to care very much. The defendant was stony faced throughout, and never made eye contact with anyone.

Just the facts, Ma’am. Alright. Nearly two years ago at 2:30 a.m. on a Sunday (which for normal people still counts as Saturday night) a veteran CHP officer was driving on the freeway responding to a complaint that there might be a car moving in the wrong direction. She did not find one. What she did find was a car parked in the “gore point” of an exit ramp. For normal people this is referred to as the little triangular area thingy between the freeway lanes and the exit lane that you aren’t supposed to drive on, but very occasionally do when you really fuck up and almost (not really almost) miss your exit, and then hope that the CHP didn’t see you do it. That part. But this car was parked in it. According to the officer, so close to the edge that the driver’s side mirror was actually over the line into the slow lane of the freeway. She pulled up behind it with all her nasty bright spotlights on and saw no movement, so she got out to investigate. Not having a death wish, and following proper procedure she went around the passenger side of the car. The rear windows were slightly fogged, but the front was clear enough to see a passenger slumped forward asleep. And a driver slumped backward in his seat. Also sound asleep. She rapped on the passenger window and no one moved. She moved around to the front of the vehicle and rapped on the windshield. No one moved. She felt the hood of the car and found it to be warm on a cold January night. She snapped two pictures of him napping with her iPhone. She then moved around to the driver’s side of the car, skirting an active freeway lane, and rapped loudly on the driver’s side window. The driver woke up slowly. She motioned for him to roll his window down. He did not do so. She opened the driver’s side door and immediately smelled alcohol. She asked the man in the driver’s seat to give her his license. He fumbled in his pocket and pulled out several cards. He handed her his Amex card. She repeated that she needed his LICENSE, at which point he dropped all the cards in his lap. She pointed to the driver’s license and told him to give her that one, which he did. She asked if he had been drinking, but he did not answer her. She asked if he had been driving and he did not answer her. She repeated her questions, and he said that he had been driving. He said he had been at a bar in the Mission between 6 p.m. and midnight and that he had “a beer and a Red Monkey.” (Tip: NO ONE knows WTF a Red Monkey is. Eventually a forensic expert told us it is a frou-frou yet lethal mixed drink with various recipes, but that it generally contains about 7 shots of hard alcohol. Seriously, if you are gonna get arrested for a DUI, IMHO  you should be drinking something hardcore like Boilermakers. BUT I did not let that influence my decision. I really didn’t.) She told him to remain in the car and went back to her patrol car and called for backup because she was alone that night and was really meant to be patrolling the Bay Bridge. On her way back to her car she took another photo of his car to show its location, and that it was really parked where she said it was.

Within minutes another CHP vehicle arrived bearing two more officers, jaded 10 years on the force utility belt cop (Seriously, he didn’t fit in the witness chair because all the gear on his belt made him too wide. He was wedged in so tight I was afraid his gun might go off.), and a fresh scrubbed little girly thing who looked like a bunny rabbit and had at that point about 5 months under her belt. Manly cop went and talked to the original Chip, and then went to get Red Monkeyboy out of his vehicle. Miss Bunnycop went to direct traffic to make sure no oncoming cars smashed into anyone. She testified that Monkeyboy had an unsteady gait as her partner removed him from his vehicle and walked him back to their patrol car, where he was cuffed and “helped into the vehicle”. The original Chiplady got the passenger into her patrol car, Manly cop got into Monkeyboy’s car, and they all drove to a safer location. Which was literally around the damn corner. Chiplady then took Unidentified Passenger and left the scene. Manly cop inventoried Monkeyboy’s car and arranged for a tow, and Bunnycop performed the field sobriety tests. Monkeyboy did not perform well on these tests. Monkeyboy was arrested.

The only item of any note found in Monkeyboy’s car was a 750ml bottle of Southern Comfort (More chick drinks! Yuck!), half full. Officer Nightstick did not note in his report, nor could he recall, where in the vehicle this bottle was found, but I am guessing that since Monkeyboy was NOT charged with an open container violation it was actually in the trunk. This matters later on a bit, but since I was not allowed to guess at things I did not weigh it into evidence. Now, however, I count it as one more of the many strikes against our hapless defendant.

Monkeyboy was then taken to the jail. He “consented” to a breathalizer test. (Although if you read the fine print on your CA driver’s license I am pretty sure the test is only optional in that you can refuse it, and thereby forfeit your license.) He took this test at least twice. Officer Big Stick said on the stand that he conducted it four times, but we only had records of two. In any case the machine was not able to make a valid reading on any of the attempts because of “insufficient volume”. There was testimony on the stand that the officer witnessed the defendant covering the mouth end of the tube with his tongue during the tests, yet this fact was not in any official report. After 2-4 failed breath tests Monkeyboy was informed that they would need to perform a blood test, and once again he “consented” to this. A phlebotomist employed by a contracting agency was brought in, and Bunnycop officially witnessed the drawing of the blood. She also did not complete all of the chain of custody paperwork entirely properly. On the evidence envelope she neglected to sign her name twice as requesting officer AND witnessing officer, though she did sign it once. On the tamper proof seals to the blood vials she filled out all the information, but failed to initial them. On a procedural checklist (an internal document meant for compliance to procedure but NOT required by any law) she initialed that all the steps were performed properly, even though as noted she had neglected two. Also when she wrote in the date on the checklist a small portion appeared to have been overwritten to correct a mistake, yet was not initialed as such. Bunnycop freely admitted that these were all errors on her part. From that point forward all proper chain of custody steps were performed, the blood was tested, and it was found that Monkeyboy had at the time of the blood draw, 4:15 a.m., a blood alcohol content of 0.14 percent. Monkeyboy was charged under two counts of the CA code of regulations title 17, to wit: driving while intoxicated and driving with a BAC greater than 0.08%.

These are two separate charges, although that makes very little sense. But whatever. Two charges.

Those are the facts that were in evidence. Red Monkeyboy was found passed out in the driver’s seat of his car, parked in a dangerous and illegal location at about 2:30 a.m. He was visibly and pungently intoxicated and admitted to having driven and to having drunk stupid beverages earlier in the evening. Some key things that were NOT mentioned at the time of arrest: Monkeyboy never said or implied that anyone else was ever driving. Neither did he allude to having drunk anything while parked at the gore point.

We got to hear evidence from the three officers, and while they did kinda fuck up, none of them seemed to be lying. We also got to hear testimony from the toxicologist, her supervisor, and lastly the head of the forensics lab for San Francisco. That last was actually really fun. He was charming and vaguely Slavic and obviously not only knew his job backwards and forwards, but really enjoys it. He was a wonderful witness. Old Bully Pulpit the lawyer tried to be sneering at him on cross and failed miserably. He was the definition of an expert witness.

Now at this point I feel the need to mention that I abhor lawyers. I worked for lawyers. With very few exceptions they are not good people. But since there were lawyers on both sides of the case I felt that I could make a fair decision without my biases affecting the outcome. While the defense attorney looked and acted like a man who never uttered an honest word in his life if he could help it, the baby ADA seemed like he needed help tying his shoes in the morning. I know they don’t make wingtips with velcro closures, but I didn’t actually check to see if he was, in fact, wearing loafers. Also, he reminded me of the guys I used to work for. Ridiculously young and naive does NOT equal honest. Really. I never knew a lawyer who could see a loophole and not dive straight into it, even if he had to grease himself up first. (Except for you, sweetie. You know who you are.)

That said, while I found Junior’s attempts to “connect” at best amusing and at worst kinda smarmy… well, he wasn’t an out and out asshole. And he didn’t FUCKING INSULT MY INTELLIGENCE! The Ole Warhorse took every opportunity to mention things that were not in evidence, had no bearing on the case, or were outright lies. He repeatedly implied, but never produced any evidence for the fact, that the phlebotomist in the case had in some way tainted the blood draw. He made wild speculations as to motives. He threw in red herrings. He repeatedly (and I think intentionally) mispronounced the names of the witnesses as a subtle way of belittling their testimony. He misrepresented facts in evidence in what I could only take as a blatant attempt to confuse the jury, and make it seem as if there were inconsistencies that were not there. He did everything in his power to make Bunnycop cry. He tried to bully every witness, and closed his case by trying to bully the jury. At one point when cross examining the toxicologist who performed the lab tests he made reference to something she had said “in the other trial”. The judge instructed us to ignore the statement, and I did not consider it when making a decision, however it made me wonder if he wasn’t deliberately trying to provoke a mistrial.

But none of that was the worst. The worst thing was that I found myself SO disliking him that I was metaphorically bending over backward to try NOT to let it sway my decision. I expected, due to pretrial instructions and the attorney’s opening statements, that Monkeyboy would not be testifying. However, once the prosecution rested, I was actually eager to hear from the defense. Surely there would be some explanation for all the veiled hints he had been throwing at us during his cross examinations of the prosecution’s witnesses. Surely he would either unravel the prosecution’s case, or I hoped, offer some even remotely reasonable alternate scenario in which Monkeyboy could be not guilty. I wanted to hear how there was a case other than in missing initials or veiled innuendo of misconduct, never even entered into evidence, let alone proven.

The Artless Codger put one witness on the stand. An old private investigator that looked enough like him to be his brother (but that I suspect, on the flimsiest of evidence, was actually his longtime spouse, having inadvertently witnessed a really pissy spat between them in the hallway about evening plans.) I thought, oh goody! A real PI. What did he dig up? Had he found evidence that the phlebotomist was a fraud who was using her position to deal meth? Maybe the defendant had a long lost twin who he was protecting. I was ready to accept just about anything at that point.

Here is the evidence he presented. He drove with Monkeyboy to the gore point in question and asked him to park in the same spot. He then got out of the car and took some pictures of the car. One picture showed the car to be in approximately the same position as the bad iPhone photo taken by Chiplady. Another from a different angle showed that the car was NOT, in fact, parked with its driver’s side mirror extending into traffic. He opined that the original photo appeared to show that it was, but that was a result of “parallax distortion”.

That’s it. That was the end of the defense case.

Fuck me. Seriously?

On the one hand… Yay! I’m going home today. Two days and DONE!

On the other hand, SERIOUSLY???

The head of forensics for SF, Dr. Utterly Charming showed with solid math and science that a man of Monkeyboy’s build simply COULD NOT have had a blood alcohol level of 0.14% at 4:15 a.m. without having been much drunker when he drove that car to the gore point. Three police officers witnessed that he was impaired between 2:30 and 3 am, but was NOT exhibiting increased impairment. Even if for some blindingly unlikely and stupid reason he was sober when he drove to the gore point and decided it was a good place to park and get drunk in his car, he would had to have stopped drinking by 1:45 am to reach a peak of intoxication by 2:30. The hood of his car was warm and his windows were relatively unfogged at 2:30 a.m. So even given the completely UNREASONABLE doubt that he was not drunk BEFORE he arrived and chose that particular spot to party down… it STILL doesn’t add up.

It really didn’t take us long to find him guilty. We found it necessary to go through the motions of discussion and reviewing the evidence because we felt obligated, but only one juror had any doubt at all, and that was based on feeling nervous about declaring him guilty when the police procedure had not been completely followed. Even though that one juror freely admitted he had no real doubt as to guilt, and really just wanted us to note his objections.

We found him guilty. If we had the option to find him Guilty as Fuck, we likely would have done so. He was so very, very guilty.

Still… he pulled over. He did drive drunk, but he pulled over before any damage was done. I can only hope that the judge took that into account on sentencing. We were not allowed to hear that part. We had to leave after we delivered the verdict. And I did a stupid thing after the verdict. I looked at his face. The face that had registered no emotion other than, perhaps, stubborn anger during the trial had crumpled a little. One person, who I can only assume was a family member or girlfriend, had witnessed the last hour of the trial, and she was visibly shaken. I have no doubt that he was Guilty as Fuck, but I felt bad for him. It hurt to affect someone’s life in this way, even if it was only two misdemeanor counts. It was really really real. Not TV. Not a book.

When I came home, I told Tuki I was sad because I had looked at his face when we declared him guilty. She said, “Sometimes you just have to dial down your empathy.”

Tuki is so smart it hurts.

Post Script: For anyone that objects to the title of this piece on the grounds that it did not happen at the airport (SFO), the courthouse wifi connection was named SFO-Public. This was very important to me because I needed to play my silly iPhone butterfly game during breaks. Because. So if you ever find yourself in San Francisco near the Criminal Justice building on the corner of Crackhead & Bryant and you are in need of wifi… You’re welcome.

Sparkle

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2013 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

So, feeling crappy about being misled about something important, and being used as a pawn in someone else’s fucked up power struggle, I was forced to tug up my big girl pants to drive Lamp to rehearsal. Because shit needs to be done even when all I want to do is hide under a blanket.

Anyhow, he wanted a sandwich, and traffic was normal-horrid, so I dropped him off across the street from Subway so he could run in. I handed him all the cash I had in my pocket, and he grabbed the ten and left the ones in the car. I saw that before he was able to cross the street he was stopped by a (probably) homeless man, who he talked to for about 30 seconds, and then went to get his sandwich.

I considered for a moment and then decided, what the hell… I don’t have the power to make my crappy situation any better, but I can give that man a dollar. So I pulled up next to him, rolled down my window, and offered him one of the dollars I had left. He approached the car with what I can only describe as a look of stunned surprise. He took the dollar, reached into his pocket and handed me a crumpled up napkin and told me to open it. He said some other things too, but a combination of a southern accent, homeless man mumble, and what looked like several missing teeth made him pretty incomprehensible. I opened the napkin, wondering if I had just inadvertently made a drug buy, and there was a pretty, sparkly piece of cut glass. It was basically a rhinestone, faceted on top and painted metallic on the bottom. But it was a nice rhinestone. Pretty. Nice to hold and look at.

He insisted that I take it. I asked him if he really, really meant that? We chatted for a while. He said he is a musician, named (I think) Jimmy Joe, and he said to look for him on YouTube. He asked me why I gave him a dollar, and I said because he was talking to my son, who I knew did not have change, but that he was nice to him. I told him my son plays guitar. Then I gave him the other two dollars.

He asked me if I was married, and flatteringly acted devastated when I said I was. He was a rogue, but I like rogues. He was a human being, and talking to him made me feel more like one. When Lamp came back to the car with his sandwich, Jimmy opened the car door for him and told him to take care of his mama. Then he went and directed traffic so that I was able to pull back out into the commute time madness.

I haven’t looked on YouTube. I’m not sure I got the name right, and I’m not even sure I want to check. I’d rather think he is there, an awesome blues man, and that he kissed my hand. I am going to keep that rhinestone in my pocket for a while.

Brotherly Love

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4, 2013 by Misanthropic Mom's Group

A childless friend recently posted on Facebook about how upset she was witnessing a toddler meltdown scene at a restaurant, and what she saw as very poor parenting decisions.

Because THAT always goes well.

I couldn’t help but join in on the full frontal assault bombardment. Just a little. Because the thing that childless people often seem to disregard is that little children are often raging assholes. They are like tiny adults in that way. In coming up with anecdotes about how the best of children can spend several years in a phase that can only be appropriately referred to as Sadistic Hellspawn, I was drawn back in time to when Tuki was small.

I hear other women bemoaning the fact that their children aren’t little any more. Like that is somehow a bad thing? Aside from it being much better than the obvious alternative (which is at the very least sad and without the services of a good taxidermist, extremely smelly and a health hazard), I tend to find any child prior to Aquinas’ Age of Reason (7ish) to be a trial at the best of times. Lamp was actually quite a good toddler, as toddlers go, which is probably the only reason he has a little sister. But Tuki… Oh, Tuki.

Tuki would be the first one to agree that crying babies/toddlers are massively annoying. She has frequently stated that she doesn’t want children, and she isn’t certain how anyone could even be a teacher. Because most kids are so stupid. I’ve explained that most people are stupid, but that adults are sometimes better at hiding it, but she remains largely unconvinced. However… between the ages of 20 mos and 3.5 years she was frequently a NIGHTMARE. Moreover she was a stubborn nightmare who ALWAYS won. If she got it in her head that she wasn’t getting her way (and that could be as simple as Mama did not see the thing she pointed to out of the car window and then refused to halt the car and back up to see it. In traffic.), she would scream as if she was drowning in hot lava, all the while glaring furiously at the offending useless parent.

The offending parent was generally me.

Now I always took her out of restaurants or other public places to do her 2+ hour tantrums out of doors, but you just haven’t lived until you have tried to physically wrestle a screaming, struggling, kicking 2.5 year old into a car seat while she screams “No! No! No!” at the top of her lungs while strangers walk by visibly wondering if they should be calling 911. Particularly if said toddler is of mixed ethnicity and therefore doesn’t quite LOOK LIKE YOU. It once took two full grown adults to force her into her car seat during a lovely drive from San Diego to San Francisco, during which she quite literally screamed through 90% of the 11 hours. We had to stop for food. All the hotels and motels were full. There were simply no options and at a certain point you just have to say, “I’ve done all I can do. I can’t do any more… Please. Call CPS. Maybe THEY can deal with her…”

Now that she is 10, Tuki is the child that other parents wish was theirs. She gets straight A’s. While most of that is natural ability, she also works hard and is utterly tenacious. Unlike her mother. At other children’s houses she is a dream. She is quiet and polite and never makes a scene. She always does as she is asked. She is always asked back. It doesn’t hurt that she is Hapa-pretty either.

Of course that is outside the home. In public. Where strangers look upon her two and a half foot long hair and huge hazel eyes and literally give her things.

Because the thing is… that Hellspawn toddler hasn’t really gone away. It lurks.

It lies in wait, and while most of its lancet sharp gaze is fixated on THE BOY, she still saves some quirks for me.

Tuki has not slept under sheets and a blanket since the age of four. She sleeps in a sleeping bag atop her always made bed amongst hundreds of stuffed animals. This works out because in the “morning” she she “gets up” she has merely to inchworm her way about the house without leaving the cozy confines. I understand this completely. I did the same thing myself as a child for several years. I have been known even now, on cold winter nights to get into a sleeping bag and hop, Lowli Worm-like, from place to place rather than brave the elements of the inside of our apartment. The issue we had lay in the fact that on early mornings (which in our family is defined as anything before 10:30 am), I was expected to carry her from her bed to the living room couch for breakfast. If I did NOT do so, the resultant whining/moaning/glaring/tears could easily take up the allotted getting-ready-for-school-hour. I know it is my fault for caving, but she was pretty small and I told myself I needed the exercise. I did warn her, though, that her 10th birthday would be the very last time she was going to be carried. So now every morning it is the whiny inchworm.

We are not morning people.

Now Lamp does not sleep in a sleeping bag. Since I have chosen to respect the boundaries of his 14 year old’s bedroom I am not entirely sure how he sleeps, but it seems to be in a sort of nest or random blankets, laundry, and old kleenex. And possibly chewed up insulation. I’m not really sure. I only go in there to collect laundry, and I try to do so quickly with a minimum of eye contact with anything in the room. It is best for my mental health that way, and most likely for Public Health as well.

Whereas I view my newly acquired teenager with bemused anthropologic interest, Tuki is simply having none of it. As far as she is concerned everything he does is annoying. The music he listens to is annoying, and the way he listens to it is annoying. The fact that he is scatterbrained is annoying, yet somehow utterly satisfying for her. It allows her to revel in her sense of superiority. The fact that the bank was willing to let us open a checking account in his name with a debit card (so he could buy his own lunches), yet would not give her one because she does not meet their cut-off age of 13 nearly sent her into apoplexy. When he then lost that debit card during his first week of high school, she spent the rest of the day alternately ranting about how stupid banks are that they can’t understand the concept of who is RESPONSIBLE and who isn’t… and simply gloating.

She has outgrown trying to get me to say I love her best, but she still takes glee in highlighting the ways in which she and I are similar. We both live on tea and prefer coffee ice cream. Lamp likes neither of these things. That he and I share similar musical tastes is a frustration to her, especially since I won’t take her side when he ALWAYS plays either The Arctic Monkeys or Wilco in the car. The fact that I actually enjoy both of these bands frustrates her to no end. When she was three she decided that girls love their mamas and boys love their daddies and that is THAT.

Lamp, to his credit, generally ignores her. I think he misses a lot of it completely due to headphones, but he often surprises me at how much he notices when I think he is being oblivious.

A few weeks back Tuki and I were engaging in one of our more frequent battles. She still refuses to dry herself after a shower. She stands there, dripping wet, with a towel wrapped haphazardly around her and WHINES about how she is COLD and she is going to die. I do understand that all that hair is hard to dry, but she won’t even move the towel enough to use it to dry off because then she will be TOO COLD. And she can’t let go of her death grip on it in order to get another towel to dry off with, because it might fall and then she will freeze to death in our 70F apartment. I’ve explained to her that I refuse to dry off a daughter who is starting to grow boobs for fucksake, so her latest thing is to insist that she be allowed to “evaporate”.

No amount of explaining the process of thermodynamics will convince her that this will make her colder. So after every shower we have to endure at least half an hour of towel swaddled, dripping, whining evaporation before she will go put on pajamas. One night, after appearing to ignore this completely, Lamp remarked to me after she had left the room,

“Someday she is going to make some guy a really AWFUL girlfriend.”

Mamas CAN love their boys.

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