Tag Archives: Games

Keeping Up Appearances

Written 9/2017.

Within the first month of dating Ted (not his real name), he moved into a new rental house, something that wouldn’t have been possible without my financial assistance. It was a nice house – 5 bedrooms, 2 or 3 bathrooms, a sizeable family room, a swimming pool. Within the first month of living there, they also discovered they had bed bugs. So Ted decided they needed to move.

Again with my financial assistance, they moved to the rental house they’re in now. It’s also nice – not as large, but large enough for Ted’s 6-7 kids. Within a year, this house also had bed bugs, which I paid to have eradicated.

Because Ted’s bed was bug-ridden, I bought him a new king-size mattress and box spring.

Because Ted has no visible means of support, something I didn’t know when we met, I frequently paid (over the course of two years, eight months, and some-odd weeks), for his phone bill, gas bill, electric bill, car note, and many, many gifts and meals for him and his children. I am generous; too much so, apparently.

Generous to the tune of more than $20,000.

Now, obviously, some of the blame for lending such a large sum of money goes to me. But most of it goes to Ted. You see, when we met, he told me he had his own business and that he was a social media consultant. Little did I know that meant he spent most of his day thinking up witty things to say on Facebook. He told me he made about $70,000 a year, which was also my salary at the time. However, because he had so many children, he had no savings and it didn’t occur to me at the time, but no credit.

I should have paid attention when he used his son’s SSN on his rental application instead of his own.

Ted doesn’t deal with things he doesn’t want to deal with. Things and people. A bill he doesn’t want to pay? He throws it away, unopened. A creditor he wants to ignore? He adds them to the auto reject list on his phone. A person he doesn’t want to know anymore? He ghosts them and then blocks them on social media, text, phone.

Despite my generosity, he never once acknowledged it with his friends or family. He would frequently post on social media about all kinds of things, but not once in nearly three years did he say, “yes, we have this great house, thanks to Lori forking over $3,500 to help us get it.” “Yes, I have this king bed I share with my cats because Lori bought it for me” (that one was a gift).

That really bothered me, and I wasn’t sure why at first. But then I figured it out: I didn’t mind being generous and unacknowledged in a public way for it; what I did mind is that Ted was keeping up appearances. He wanted everyone to think he was providing for his family, all on his own, without help.

He wants everyone to think “wow, what a great single dad, doing it all on his own,” but even that’s not true from a non-financial standpoint. His oldest son raised the remaining kids just as much. As do others in his life.

An example: I remember early on, I was at Ted’s house just after dinner. While Ted and I were in the dining room talking, the kids were in the family room watching American Horror Story. A particularly explicit sex scene came on, and his children were all watching it. At the time, they were 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, and 15 years old (this is before a 7th child joined the fray). So, the oldest was 15. When I nudged Ted and asked him if he wanted his children watching this, he was initially non-plussed. When I pointed out what they were watching, he yelled to the oldest to come into the dining room and then berated him for allowing the younger children to watch. The poor kid was flustered and got teared-up. I asked Ted “Why are you blaming him? He’s a kid!” to which he replied, “Because he’s the oldest and should know better.” Should’ve been a red flag to me. He was the parent and should’ve been paying attention!

Another example: The inside of his car was always a pig sty, but he kept the outside washed and clean. It speaks volumes about how he lives his life – all flash, no substance, though again, he wants everyone to think he’s this cool, chill, Zen type of California guy. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just a masked persona he puts on and takes off at will.

Since breaking up with me, Ted has been pushing the friendship agenda. Initially, I was not interested. My heart is broken, and I just wanted to lick my wounds and heal. But yesterday, I reached out to Ted to test the waters and see if maybe we could meet for coffee or a meal and see if we could be friends.

So during the course of our conversation yesterday, I said something about still loving him and that it was difficult to understand why he ended things. Ted says the reason he broke up with me is mostly my fault, because I didn’t come to Galveston often enough, I missed too many family functions, and that the relationship felt one-sided because I wasn’t making any effort. And so ultimately, he decided he didn’t want to exert any effort in a relationship with me.

Let me tell you about effort. Try dating someone who allegedly has multiple chronic illnesses, has to nap several times a day, has seven children, is hospitalized a couple of times a year, has his vehicle repossessed or has no working vehicle, has no income, is frequently at odds with other people in his life, and is not appreciative of the things you do for him and his children. Let’s sit with that for a minute.

I may have started out being sad and broken-hearted, but now I’m just mad. And I realize a couple of things: when things get tough, Ted gives up because he lacks tenacity. When someone has outlived their usefulness to him, he gives up on them (in my case, I stopped loaning him money a few months ago, thereby rendering me useless to him). If he’s not getting what he wants, when he wants it, he’s done. If you don’t fit with the impression he wants to present to the world, and he can’t keep up appearances, he feels embarrassed and humiliated.

That’s not being a man, that’s being a child.

I don’t need a child; I need a man.

And I need a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

——————————–

The above post was written about 2.5 years ago but not published. I’m choosing to publish it now because I’ve come to the ultimate realization that Ted is a con man and it’s likely he’s bilking others out of their hard-earned money, just as he did to me.

Ted hasn’t repaid the money he owes me. He was making negligible payments, but stopped several months ago when he made a $25 payment stating that things were “really bad” for him and that he had basically been bed-ridden for weeks at that point.

By now, though, my empathy has run its course and since I recognize the con game he’s running, I no longer care. I, myself, am in financial dire straights these days, and that’s partly his fault.

So, if you know Ted, and you’ve had a similar experience, please share your stories with me. In addition to a civil suit, I may be able to bring criminal charges, and I’ll need the evidence from anyone else he’s done this to as well. I know you’re out there because I saw small glimpses of his avoidance of people to whom he owed money during our relationship.

Don’t be the victim.

Mind Games

It’s funny how the mind plays tricks on us, isn’t it? For example, yesterday, I was thinking about Thanksgiving when I was a kid. Most years, it was Mom, Dad, my sister, my maternal grandmother (who lived with us most of my life), and me. Some years, assorted friends, boyfriends, husbands, and/or acquaintances would join us at the table to give thanks, but most years, it was just the five of us. And given how dysfunctional our family was, there’s not really much to be nostalgic about… except there is.

I fondly remember the warmth the house took on both from the food cooking in the kitchen to the better moods my family would don for the day. I remember setting the table (my favorite chore) – picking out just the right table cloth, napkins, china, and silver – and then folding the napkins into some sort of fantastic concoction that everyone would ooh and ahh over. I would even go so far as to make fancy place cards some years. But mostly, I remember feeling happy and satisfied around the table in a way I rarely felt in that house.

Dinner at the Bain house was normally a time for fighting and rushing; it’s no wonder I have food issues today. But Thanksgiving was different, for the most part. We were relaxed and I don’t remember any fights (though maybe there were a few over the years). And after the remains of the turkey and stuffing had been put away in the refrigerator to be brought out later for sandwiches, we almost always played games – Careers, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Life, Boggle, Balderdash, Outburst, and my sister’s personal favorite, Pit. My family was at their best when they were playing games. We teased each other and bonded. We laughed and enjoyed each other, and everyone forgot about their own personal angers and resentments and issues, if only for a couple of hours.

Since I’ve been divorced from Thing 2, I’ve been adrift from traditions of any sort. Each year, the holidays have been something different – sometimes spent with friends, sometimes spent with family, sometimes spent alone. Now that both of my parents are gone, my family consists of my sister, my brother-in-law, and me, and since we live 1,500 miles apart, it’s still an adrift situation, but it feels even more so since my mother died 9 months ago, which is kind of odd, since we really haven’t had that constant family thread since my father died in 2002. But now that there are no parents, it seems more pronounced.

The past few years, I’ve spent Thanksgiving with my good friends, Juanita and Erich, along with their family and friends and they have truly welcomed me in as family, too. This year, I was invited to both J&E’s and to the home of some new friends, who happened to ask me first. Being at Brian and Deborah’s with their teenage daughters and a friend, was a close approximation to being part of a family – eating together, laughing, teasing each other, hearing each other’s stories… and playing board games. It made me a bit nostalgic.

Last night, as we played Cranium, Pictionary, and Rumikub, I couldn’t help but think of my parents and how much fun they would have been having, had they been there. My mother, especially, could be so silly and funny when she wasn’t caught up in her own anger and drama – I like to think I was seeing more of her true and better self when she was at play.

Maybe that’s what I seek each Thanksgiving and Christmas – that sense of play in each of us. Maybe being playful does release our true and best selves, the person we first were when we were children, before we learned to be cynical or jaded or too serious. There are mind games we play with each other and there are mind games we play only with ourselves. And then there are games, the good kind… the ones that make us laugh, and tease, and clap, and hoot, and high five each other… played with a board, or cards, or dice, or molding clay, or spinners, or little ships with posts sticking out of the bottom of them.

I vote for more of those kinds of games and less of the mind games!