My sister told me last night that she mistakenly violated a cardinal rule of inter-parent relations. As a result, she has two fewer friends to call her own.
Until recently, Louise lunched weekly with a couple of her dearest friends, Robin and June. Robin is a mousy fifty-year-old whom Louise has known since high school. She’s a quiet woman who’s always hated confrontation, unlike my outgoing and decidedly blunt-speaking sister.
Robin introduced Louise to June a few years ago. According to Louise, the divorced fifty-three-year-old mother of two loves nothing better than complaining to her friends, especially about her eldest daughter. For the past three years, June has aired the same weekly grievances about the now-eighteen-year-old Delilah: she slept with a succession of boys in her mother’s bed after losing her virginity at fourteen; she developed a methamphetamine addiction; and she turned tricks to support her drug habit. Each week, Louise has listened to June bemoaning the money she’s spent bailing the girl out of jail and paying for failed rehab attempts. And on countless occasions, she’s heard June proclaim how she’s “had it with that crack ho.”
Despite tiring of the same repeated complaints, Louise never offered anything but clucks of sympathy, until a few weeks ago. She probably wouldn’t have spoken then either, if she hadn’t been egged on by Robin. Even more than Louise, Robin has come to detest June’s weekly diatribes. After each of the past several luncheons, she’s exclaimed to my sister: “One of these days, we need to tell June to stop enabling her daughter, or else to stop whining about her!”
At the trio’s last luncheon, June wailed about her daughter’s latest arrest on drug and prostitution charges and carped about the bill she’d have to foot for yet another court-ordered rehab. She closed her caterwauling with the rhetorical: “Can you believe it?”
Expecting her bosom buddy to guard her back, Louise answered: “Do we believe the ‘crack ho’ is still addicted to pricks and meth? Absolutely! Do we think you should stop bailing her out of her problems, or else stop whining about them? We do!”
As Louise now realizes, no matter how badly a mother bashes her child, she won’t allow anyone else to do the same. June responded in a predictably unappreciative manner: “Who the hell are you to call my daughter a ‘crack ho?!’ She may have her issues, but at least she’s no vagina munching lesbian, like you!”
Louise tried to diffuse the situation, at first: “Whoa there! Let’s not attack each other. I’m only repeating what you’ve said yourself a million times. And I’m not the only one who feels that way. Right, Robin?”
Faced with June’s medusa-like glare, Robin opted to impersonate an ostrich. Rather than supporting my sister’s observations, she pasted on her best I have no idea what she’s talking about expression and swiveled her head in the negative.
June haughtily responded: “Just as I thought.” Then she stormed from the premises, vowing that their friendship had ended. Louise hasn’t heard from her since. Louise did hear from Robin, via several voicemail messages. But my sister hasn’t returned any of those calls. As she sees it, having lost the friendship of the “hypocritical harridan,” she might as well jettison the “backstabbing bimbo” too.