Saturday, March 21, 2009

When Daddy Changes the Rules

Imagine that you’re a child, say 8 or 10 or 12 years of age. Your father, a nice man but a heavy spender, passes away, leaving Mama with a large debt and future obligations to pay. Now she’s looking for a new husband to help raise you and your siblings and share the burden of debt.

A young, handsome, glib, smooth talker shows up, and Mama begins to be intrigued with him. Oh, he’s such a charmer, this one. It's hard to pin down the substance of what he's saying, but he sure sounds good saying it. Mama begins to think he might be her hope, the change she needs in her life. She even thinks of him as her personal Messiah in a strange and alluring way. Yes, there are some echoes from his background that disturb her, but Mama is just taken with the new guy. She shuts her ears to anything she doesn’t want to hear about this mesmerizing vision of a man. There is another suitor, but he's old and blathering and changes his mind whenever it might give him an advantage. Mama pays less and less attention to this pretender.

Soon the inevitable happens. Mama gives her heart away and marries the bright, shiny hope. New Daddy moves in.

And things begin to change. Right away.

New Daddy tells you that he’s going to give your little brother a weekly allowance, even though the boy won’t need to earn it. Moreover, instead of giving you an allowance, he’s going to require you to pay him a few dollars each week. When you ask why, New Daddy says "You have the ability to earn money. He doesn’t. We need to spread the wealth in this family." You protest to Mama, but she’s in love and doesn’t want to hear you.

New Daddy comes home three days after the wedding with a beautiful new car and a 52-inch wall-mounted plasma television. Mama loves the new toys, but she’s nervous about the debt that New Daddy incurred to buy them. "Don’t worry," New Daddy tells her, "and get used to it. This family’s going to operate at a considerable deficit for years and years to come. It’s my theory of economics."

The next day, New Daddy tells Mama that he’s developed a family budget for the upcoming year. It calls for expenditures several times the expected income that he’ll earn in his job. When Mama asks where the money’s going to come from, New Daddy smiles and answers "Credit, my dear! Credit! The magic word!"

Later, Mama shyly presses him for details of how the new credit money is being spent, but New Daddy insists that he has no obligation to be accountable to her.

Within weeks, Mama is pregnant. When she happily tells New Daddy the good news, he frowns and replies that he doesn’t want to be punished with a baby. Mama cries, but soon she is no longer pregnant.

There’s a bully at school who has told you several times that he’s going to wipe the playground with your face. A few months ago, he beat you up pretty badly. Your previous father always held this bully at bay after that incident, telling the boy’s father that there would be severe consequences if the bully attacked you again. Now New Daddy goes to the bully’s father and tells him that he’d like to use diplomacy to handle the situation. The bully’s father secretly laughs. "Go get the little snot nose!" he tells his son after New Daddy leaves. "New Daddy is a ----!" and he uses a very naughty word.

New Daddy calls in a remodeling specialist and his crew to renovate the house that he received by marrying Mama. He signs a contract which calls for a fee plus bonuses for work performed. When the contractor presents his bill after the work is done, New Daddy writes a check. But then he does the strangest thing. He goes to the bank that holds his credit notes and yells about how unfair the bonus clause was. He demands that the bank go after the remodeler and recapture the bonuses. When the bank refuses, citing the legality of the contract New Daddy signed, New Daddy goes to the newspapers and convinces them to tell the story of how wrong it is for anyone to actually earn a bonus for work properly performed under a bonus contract. With plenty of newspaper publicity from journalists who share New Daddy’s political views and the resulting public outrage, the remodeler is forced to return the bonuses for him and his crew. New Daddy is happy. No one is asking him any questions about what he knew and when.

Mama’s beginning to look at New Daddy in a new way. You can almost see her thoughts as she ponders what she’s done.

Posted by Hale Meserow
March 22, 2009

1 comment:

John Boyce said...

She's a whore if she keeps enabling new daddy's behavior, now isn't she?!?