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Well, maybe not disaster, but it has been a distressing and disturbing day since the mid-afternoon, when the trouble started.(Warning: I'm too tired to proofread this, so proceed at your own risk!)
But let me back up a bit and give you some of the history that preceded it: Karen, as is her wont, decided that we, Gary, Karen and I would have a big Thanksgiving Day meal in Joe's hospital room, and that we would bring it in from the outside, a catered dinner preferably, or the equivalent bought from Bliss Market, a local specialty market, known for its delicious but pricey prepared foods. Now, mind you, she had already FORCED on me a birthday party the week before I had told her in no uncertain terms I did NOT want...and she had insisted, and worked hard to make me feel guilty if I didn't -- It was Gary's birthday too -- several days before but what the hey? -- and he needed a party and Joe would love it if we had another in his room and wouldn't it be just the thing to have a chocolate mousse cake for Gary, who loved chocolate (never mind that I really wanted a much less expensive Carvel cake bought at Stop and Shop...IF I had to endure a party at all) and of course Karen herself loved chocolate mousse cake so that was two votes against my small voice voting hopelessly for Carvel on my own birthday.
Now mind you as well, Karen doesn't PAY for any of this, no, she has free use of Joe's credit cards, and while she wrangles permission to use them, and uses Gary as an imposter for Joe to sign for purchases, she manages to way overspend for every party she organizes. She CLAIMS that she works hard at it, but truth to tell, she is a shopaholic and loves to spend other people's money. She buys matching paper plates in two different sizes and cups and silverware to match (as she did this T-day). In addition, and I'm now speaking of Thanksgiving, for example, she bought a large china platter for the turkey, as if none of us had a decent platter that would do? She never asked me, that mu9ch I know. She bought China bowls and serving dishes, though she has dozens of her own...All from Joe's money for one little Thanksgiving party in Joe's room, where the food could not even be displayed, but had to be kept in a room off the unit! I swear, I hinted openly (oxymoronically) that maybe she shouldn't use most of the items she bought so freely but return them unopened, since they had no real purpose any longer. What use did we have for special serving dishes, when we were all going to fix plates, then heat them in the microwave and take them to Joe's room to eat off TV tables? Even the TV tables were unnecessary purchases as far as I was concerned. I had no trouble eating without one (I had refused to let Joe -- or his money -- finance buying one for me). Nothing needed cutting, and the Chinet paper plates were perfectly sturdy for setting on a lap.
Ennyhoo, the birthday party had itself been a trial, and I had been at pains to be civil and sociable the entire afternoon, wanting so much only to be with Joe and not with anyone else...And disgusted with Karen's constant attempts to show me how tight Joe and she were. Luckily, right in the middle of the party, Joe beckoned me over to him and asked for his computer, and showed me the card he had written me, plus the parrot pictures from his calendar that he intended to go with each line...It clearly contradicted everything Karen was trying to goad me into believing, and I think Joe had me see it at that time because he understood that's what she was up to.
That was the B-day party, which I dreaded, went to and survived, if barely. No, I did not thank Karen for it. I did not even THINK to thank her for the party. I felt, rather, that she had had HER party just as she had wished to, and that I had attended like a dutiful child, and that was quite enough. The very fact that she had gotten HER choice of cake still galled me, furthermore, and I was in no mood to actually thank her for something for which I wasn't the least bit grateful! That, it turns out, somehow bothered her, as you shall see...
Today, another, yet another party loomed. This one I personally was paying for, except the partyware, for which Joe had picked up the exorbitant tab (Karen's super shopping sprees clearly cost a mint). Wednesday, a friend, Josephine and I (I should write a post about Jo sometime if I haven't already) picked up the turkey dinner at Bliss Market, and Thursday morning, Gary brought it from his fridge to my oven for me to do the last bit of cooking required before we packed it up and got ready to bring everything over to the HSC (Hospital for Special Care). I was already dreading the day, but eating turkey I looked forward to, one food I actually like, at least once a year.
Karen and I drove to HSC together, in Joe's station wagon with most of the party stuff in the back, while Gary drove my car in order to have it there so he could transport Joe's mother home afterwards, an hour's drive there and back. We hauled a lot of stuff up to the all-purpose room we had reserved for our dinner preparations, and I went back for the rest of it, while Karen, as expected, simply abdicated from helping. She SAID, let's go down and get the rest, but when I got up to go, she just sat there, and let me go alone...Typical of her, the mixed message or the conflicting message of word versus deed. It's part of why I just don't like her, don't trust her...
I got the rest of it upstairs (Karen wanted Gary to do it, as she has him do all her dirty work, simply orders him to do it) then went to say hello to Joe and his family members who had driven his mother into town. We all went, and A and her partner P eventually said good-bye and left, so we had a chance to visit with Joe alone, which went okay, though poor Joe was left to emcee the goings on, as no one else could unify us three with his mother. I could tell it tired him after a while, and suggested that we go get our plates and eat, so he could have a rest. That's when things started to get dicey. First of all, Karen...Oh, Karen is out for herself, and herself first and foremost. And especially around her peers has no compunctions about putting herself first. With her peers, she is selfish and greedy to an extreme, and has no thought for others...Except for Joe, for whom she has conceived a liking either due to financial reasons or simply because he is a captive audience and she cannot stand being silent or alone. Joe she puts first...unless it is a matter of her comfort, then she still comes first and foremost. No one's food or comfort supercedes Karen's, NO ONE's.
This was rammed home to me during our meal today, when I really should have expected it. I would not have behaved as she did, microwaving my own plate first and then simply sitting down to eat without waiting for anyone else. I would have done my own plate last and would have microwaved others plates for them, I know I would have. That's what I thought she was doing. But no, she did Mrs C's plate, only, then hers, and that was it. I was actually appalled. But why? It is her habit to serve herself first, and to NOT serve others. What should surprise me about that? Just because I would do it differently doesn't mean I should expect her to change her stripes!
Anyhow, the next thing was SO unlike her that I KNEW it was a plot to get ME to work for her...She brought dishsoap and a towel into Joe's room and said we would wash the dishes we had brought with us. Now, Karen NEVER washes dishes until EVERY dish in her house is encrusted and moldy. So this was NOT some sudden scrupulousness on her part, no, it was her way of getting someone else to wash her dishes, ie ME or Gary. She certainly was not going to wash them, no, I knew that. Well, I drew the line right then and there and told her so. I had paid for her big meal, of which she ate so heartily and well. I did not need to then wash my two pieces of silverware. I had not even used a china plate underneath my paper one! No, I was NOT going to wash HER dishes, no way. She could wash her own dishes or take them home dirty. She had left way too many dirty dishes in my sink at home, after eating MY food for me to feel any discomfort in making her wash my silverware!
This truly upset her, and she said, Fine, then I won't do Christmas. I worked so hard to make this party, and your birthday party as well. "Well, I didn't even want a birthday party!" "And you never thanked me for it!" "Thanked you! What makes you think I was grateful?" And so on...Dunno how much of that I actually said, though, and how much I thought of saying later. I tend to get tongue-tied when angry and NOT say things I think of later, and so often do not have to regret saying venomous things, because I don't think of saying them until it's "too late," thank god.
We traded words after that though, and enough of was that a nurse or two looked in the room askance. I finally quieted down, realizing that I could be heard out in the hall. Joe understood that I was terribly upset, and I told him he had better support me for a change, that Karen would NOT dump him and that I needed him to stand up for me! I eventually had to leave to pack up the leftovers, and Karen had a chance to talk with him alone, so I dunno what he said to her, probably nothing but placating her, knowing him. Probably took her side against me, knowing him...But I...Oh, he HAS to, he is afraid she would leave him in anger if he crossed her. She wouldn't, but he is frankly too weak willed to find that out, and so he placated her, even if he did believe she was in the wrong. He is capable of doing that. Acting one way and believing another. I have seen him do that before. He will act the nice guy and NOT tell anyone how he truly feels, because he knows it would bring about controversy, which he detests above all else. But it makes him effectively two-faced, a fact he may not be aware of. Hypocritical in fact, saying one thing to keep the peace, but believing quite another. That's what a hypocrite is, after all.
Posted by pamwagg at November 22, 2007 07:40 PM
IN the end, Karen and I drove hom in absolute silence, which must have been hell for her, who cannot tolerate silence at any time, especially when with company! I on the other hand, drifted into revery and soon forgot I was with her. At home, I simply packed up my cart and told her she had to lock up the back of the car. She had been stomping away down the walkway to the building and this made her have to come back -- HAH! -- so I then wheeled off, ahead of her, and got inside and to the elevator first. With some small satisfaction, I saw the door close before she could get on. I took it straight to the 12th floor.