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She’s Got A Mouthful of Piranhas

He referred to her as his wife this morning while on the phone confirming her appointment with the doctor. My throat involuntarily convulsed and my head swirled with the beginnings and endings of various stories. Are they really married? My aunt told me that she thought they had wed on one of the many cruises they take into foreign waters. Does that count? Are they really married or was it just one of the “purely for entertainment purposes only” excursions made readily available on those massive floating over indulgence factories?


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I plan to ask him if it is true, that is if I ever get a moment alone with him. Why don’t I just ask in front of her?  Well, for starters, she a notorious sentence finisher. Worse than that actually. She ball hogs the whole goddamned sentence and gobbles up the entire paragraph. She’s a microscopic manager. In addition to answering all questions posed to him before the asker even gets to use punctuation, she is a mean spirited know it all who would, without a doubt in my mind, use the stolen response to get in a backhanded, belittling dig on him. “He never even asked me like a normal man would. I had to ask him!” Or, “He had to read his proposal from a ratty piece of paper because his memory is so bad, but it was nice anyway”. What a sweetie.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m comparing her to my mother. Not giving her a fair shake. Listen, I’m not a tween pouting because my family got relocated and now I’m forced to make new friends that I hope are all “twins separated at birth” from my old friends. Give me a break! For the past 14 years I’ve called the woman who is not my stepmother on Mothers Day. Truth be told, I think she is an interesting woman who tells interesting stories forged from years of world travel, a childhood spent rubbing shoulders with Hollywood stars and a career in healthcare. She’s brought some great things to my dad’s life, travel beyond the campgrounds of Washington state and a love of reading to name just a couple. Their life contains many of those perfectly nice and maybe even what could be considered borderline Hallmark moments. It’s just that it’s peppered – and not like on the lightest setting where the spice is all flirty and subtly turns up the heat, but like when the dial is fully cranked and dropping jagged fire bombs that leave big holes in whatever they’re trying to season – with more and more frequent roasts of my dad. Her at the podium commanding the room with her best Don Rickles or Joan Rivers impression, and my dad sitting meekly on the dais, pushing food around his plate and trying to act like a good sport as he gets his ass handed to him. Elbow in the ribs, yuckity yuck kind of shit.

Whenever this happens in my presence, I dig into my passive aggressive toolkit with its impressive collection of subtle hints, stealthy redirects and lighthearted opposition, searching for the perfect way to stop the attack. Searching for a way to drown the school of word piranha that are swimming fiercely and with purpose from her mouth before they reach my dad and make lunch out of his psyche, buzzsawing his confidence into tiny little bite size chunks that can be nibbled on and picked at for hours and days to come. Sometimes the attack is thwarted. Most of the time it isn’t. She and her mouthful of razor toothed minions are determined to get their fill.

So, that is why I threw up in my mouth a little this morning when I learned my “not my stepmother” might actually be just that. My dad deserves to be treated with respect not jabbed, poked, humiliated and made into fish food.

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4 thoughts on “She’s Got A Mouthful of Piranhas

  1. efrompdx says:

    Great analogy with the piranha. There is a cargo of anger and pain in this essay. It’s a mystery why he would choose to stay with someone like that, isn’t it? I think it might be time to ditch the subtlety and speak more assertively with this step-monster. Your dad deserves better.

    But, really great writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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