Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Margarita Theory

Well, my mother asked me to help her with an errand one day, and because I was available at a time I routinely would have been working, she realized that something was amiss.  There seemed to be no explanation to give her except to tell the truth--that I had been fired.  Mom was very shocked.  I told her word for word what my sister-in-law had said when she terminated me, and thought it best to leave it at that.  Mom wanted to march down to my brother's shop and demand further explanation, but said that she had another topic to discuss with him that was even more pressing.  What she told me was even more shocking than my news!

You see, my mother had been very free with her advice (crazy, off-the-chart nagging) regarding their potty training for her grandson.  He is approaching 4 years old and has refused to potty train.  Well, she stepped on my sister-in-law's toes pretty hard and hasn't been asked to babysit in ages.  She was recently laid off from her job until springtime, so she offered to keep the child anytime now that she had unlimited free time to spend with him.  Well, my sister-in-law's parents, both being retired, are his usual babysitters.  They generally care for him 2 days per week, so that his mother can be free to work in the shop.  However, they often lament that if they weren't tied down to him they could travel.  Many times, they have asked her to make other arrangements for his care, but since he doesn't get along well with other children and he isn't potty trained, "other arrangements" don't last long and he ends up with his maternal grandparents again.  Even under this pressure, my sister-in-law refuses to let my willing mother watch him. 

Well, about the time my brother announced that we might be facing a temporary lay off, he and his wife were planning a night out with her best friend (and employee) and her husband.  I overheard them reminding one another several times throughout the workday to call my mom.  Neither one of them wanted to make the call, so I asked my brother why they kept avoiding the issue.  He said, "Oh, we just want her to watch the boy while we go out to [this certain] restaurant."  I said, "That shouldn't be any big deal.  Mom would LOVE to watch him; I'm sure she'll say YES."  He said the problem wasn't with mom and wouldn't elaborate.  I remembered that my brother once said that they never ate at this restaurant (he didn't like the food), but sometimes went there for the margaritas.  I thought no more of it until mom explained how the rest of that evening had gone.

Even on very short notice, Mom was glad to babysit that evening.  She and my little nephew (her grandson) had a blast until his 8pm bedtime.  She watched TV until my brother came home at...1:00 in the morning!  My mom never stays up after 10pm, so I thought that was very inconsiderate.  I told mom so.  She said, "No, I wasn't concerned about that.  Your brother came home alone.  He said that they drank at the restaurant until it closed and then moved the party to the other couple's house for more drinks.  At 11pm, my brother suggested that they go home to relieve Mom.  His wife refused, so they stayed longer.  Finally, at 1am, my brother decided that he could not impose on Mom a moment longer and headed home.  His oldest daughter (about 14 years old) got out of bed when she heard him come in and asked, "Where is Mom?"  He looked defeated, shrugged, and said, "You know your mom."  She pursed her lips, rolled her eyes, and said, "Yeah, I know Mom."  My mom was puzzled, so my brother said, "They offered to bring her home when she's ready to leave."  Their daughter said, "I'm not holding my breath; she's not coming home tonight."  Mom knew it was uncomfortable for them, so she left without showing any concern. 

So, Mom suspects that she stumbled onto a big family secret about some alcoholism, or possibly worse.  Since our father was an alcoholic, we are all very sensitive on the issue and have a low tolerance for the abuse of alcohol.  Mom theorizes that this might have something to do with why I was fired.  If my sister-in-law thinks that my mother told me of that night's events, it would be very difficult for her to face me daily, for I would surely think less of an alcoholic sister-in-law.  And she could not plan their next booze binge in front of me as she had done previously.  And that might account for the "walking on eggshells" defense she gave for terminating my employment.

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