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1:10 p.m. - 2011-08-19
The Road to Perdition begins at Walmart

I am slowly but surely corrupting my mother-in-law. Feels good. I enjoy being a bad influence when I can. The whole motherhood thing and the onus of setting a good example all the time has gotten really, really old. Knowing I can help someone shake off the shackles of propriety and moral obligation is nice.

Of course we're talking about MIL here so it's not like we're jaunting off to raves and shooting heroin together. But considering how rigidly MIL's held herself in check and done the insanely dutiful daughter/wife/mother thing all her life even little deviations from self-denying martyrdom count for a lot.

Mick eggs me on too. He knows it's impossible for MIL to ever become a full-blown hedonistic flibbertigibbet, the woman is so anxious to not be a bother she'll figure out how to leave a neatly made death bed. So any little pleasures and adventures I can coax MIL into having makes Mick very happy. He loves his mom. A lot. Something which was a big plus when we first got together, I had the eyes to see that a man who respects and is good to his mother would do the same for me. Unlike the insecure twat who was Mick's girlfriend previous to me. That jerk used to rag on Mick and call him a mama's boy. What a dimwit she was. Thank goodness.

Since 'scraps and leavings' types are used to doing without it means MIL cannot ask for anything from anyone. She won't even say, "Excuse me" to get past an aisle hog at the grocery store. She just stands there patiently until the way is clear. So she was delightedly horrified when I nicely bullied the optician in the eye glass department into minding MIL's crutches while we did the rest of our shopping. I'd gotten MIL installed in the rickety manual wheelchair with the broken shopping basket that Walmart so thoughtfully provided for our 'convenience' but there was nowhere to carry the crutches. The electric scooters have a place to stash crutches and canes but MIL refuses to use the electric scooters, they scare her and she has visions of the scooter somehow going amok and there'd she be screeching around Walmart at 85mph. So, the manual chair it was. I tried hanging the crutches horizontally on the push handles but there wasn't room for crutches and my hands together and the stupid things stuck out too far on either side anyhow. Our first stop was the eyeglass department to refill our lens cleaner bottles and I'm trying to navigate the rickety chair and the reusable shopping bags and my purse and the crutches all while MIL is being 'helpful' to the point of distraction. (Over-helping is a MIL specialty.) Seeing a nice quiet corner behind the register I went over and stood the crutches there and cheerfully blew past the optician's objections and protestations about how she couldn't guarantee their safety and assured her the crutches would be fine and we'd be back in two shakes.

Once clear of the eyeglass dept and store security, the State Police and the National Guard hadn't shown up to haul us away for illegal crutch stowing MIL laughed and said the optician was probably still trying to figure out what just hit her. I do this kind of thing all the time so hadn't really given it a thought, but to MIL it was like I was a Mafia don who'd just made the optician an offer she couldn't refuse. To MIL my little thing with the crutches was seriously bad ass. That's how reluctant MIL is to make waves or do anything the teeniest bit skewed.

So you can imagine how wowed she was when I started unscrewing the caps and sniffing the fabric softener. She'd been trying to decide on a scent by reading the labels and was dithering over whether 'citrus sea breeze' would be nicer than 'vanilla mountain air', so I took the top off the citrus one, took a sniff and handed it to her. Well! After looking around wildly for the fabric softener police she took the bottle and hunched over it, surreptitiously sniffing like she was doing a line of cocaine. A little high from 'citrus sea breeze' and her own lawlessness she handed the citrus back to me and boldly chose another scent and opened the bottle herself. My nice, extremely law abiding mother-in-law had just become a juvenile delinquent at age 73. Go MIL! You get down with your badass fabric softener sniffing self!

Tiny things, yes. But to my darling MIL it's a whole new perspective. I'm not mocking, sure I wasn't ever as uptight as she is, but I do understand the mindset. That fear of putting a toe out of line, of bringing wrath down upon my head for being 'selfish'. The horrible anxiety of being caught out doing something for myself instead of being 'good'. And the never ever 'bothering' anyone by asking for their help. I remember that shitty way of life very well and am determined my MIL gets a taste of the freedom it took me so long to find. To loosen up and have some fun. To give over being relentlessly self-abnegating and cut up once in a while. Think Lucy and Ethel or Diana and Fergie at Ascot poking people in the ass with their umbrellas. A little mischief is good for the soul.


Happily leading my MIL astray, ~LA

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