20090314

Non Sequitur

A comment on a contact's page triggered a strange memory from my childhood the other day. I don't remember the page, or the comment, but I remember thinking it was odd, because the comment had no relation to the memory! I had forgotten all about it, but now that I remember it, the details are vivid!

I was 6 or 7 years old, and at my friend, Donna's (not her real name) house, playing some childhood game of which I can't remember. It was nearing time for me to leave, and as I stood up, she pushed me back down, pinned me to the bed and told me she wasn't finished playing and that I couldn't go.

I blinked a few times, absorbing what she'd said, wondering how in the world she'd think I'd still want to play with her at that point. And then, my upbringing kicked in. I was going to be late getting home, and being a typical Asian American child at that point, I was much more afraid of what my parents would do if I were late than anything Donna could have done to me (sick puppies that we are). I said "If you don't let me up, I'll be late, my parents will ground me, and then I won't be able to play with you anyway!"

It was Donna's turn to blink. I think she was dumbfounded that I was just as whacked as she was! She got up, nodded and somewhat halfheartedly followed me to the front door, where she found her nerve again and hissed "you better not tell anyone what happened!"

I was six, of course I was going to tell! I ran down the block to my house, threw open the door, and announced: "she is crazy and I am never going back there!"

My mom looked at me: "what?"

"She pushed me, pinned me down and told me I had to stay there!"

At this point, I expected my mom to tell me everything was okay, Donna was bad, and I didn't have to play with her anymore. To my surprise, she said "Donna has it hard, Tracey, you should show a little tolerance."

"WHAT?!?!? Did you hear me? She PUSHED me and PINNED ME DOWN! She's crazy!"

"Her parents abandoned her and her grandmother is raising her as best she can all by herself. She is probably confused and lonely. Try to see things from her point of view."

"But Mom, she ..."

"Donna does not know how to express herself very well. You need to show her how to act properly!"

I was pretty sure at that point my mom was nuts, too. But she was the mother and I had to obey. Mom also made me play with the girl who had bladder control issues until the age of 9 or so, although even then, I was a clean freak and it made me squeamish to even be near her. In retrospect, I have to admit my mom was right. Donna seemed to be okay after that. She probably expected me to abandon her, as her parents had, and when I didn't, perhaps it planted the idea somewhere inside her that maybe she wasn't such a bad kid.

The effect of my mom's empathy for others on me, however, is still working itself out. I still have a difficult time distinguishing between the ideas of treating people well and allowing them to take advantage of me. As a result, I have had a few stalkers (some scary, some not), I allowed someone to freeload off me for years, and I dated a few mentally abusive men because they were outcasts and I felt sorry for them. But I think I am getting better.

The little cement bear in the photo has been in my grandparent's garden ever since I can remember (his nose broke off when I scared a raccoon off my porch, and the raccoon knocked him down in his haste to get away from the screaming human -- I never did find his nose). For thirty years, I thought the bulbs sticking out center front were his feet. And then one of my friends pointed out that no, those were testicles, and his feet were to the side of his testicles. I wonder if my grandparents knew that...