Batman’s Beginning

Until now, I’ve always made my closest friends in my workplace.  This goes back as far as I can remember.  Even to my senior year in high school when I worked at the grocery store that was in Scornful Mother‘s back yard.

I met Batman while working as a cashier at Price Mart (since bought out.)  He was a bagger.  He was handsome.  A few inches shorter than I, with sandy blond hair and a tan complexion.  He worked out and it showed.  He always wore the long sleeves of his white button down, oxford shirts rolled up to above his large, hard biceps.  He wore a perpetual, goofy grin on his face and he was completely endearing to everyone who ever met him.   I was instantly enthralled with his good looks and great attitude.

In addition to Batman, my friend who I have referred to on this blog as RNJ also worked at the Price Mart.  At the time, I believed I had feelings for RNJ but she had no interest in me.  The two of us were in choir together in school and had grown a friendship there.  She was, by far your traditional cowgirl with a rebellion just waiting to come out.  For a brief time, we were like the Three Musketeers.

RNJ and Batman flirted back and forth relentlessly while I looked on with despair and desperation.  I wanted to be loved.  I wanted to have a relationship with someone like these two had.  Batman was RNJ‘s prom date.  I went to dinner with the two of them and a platonic date, but because I was under 18 and Scornful Mother wouldn’t give her permission for me to go to Prom I didn’t attend.  (A story for another time)   I spent the entire evening lying on my platonic date’s parents’ bed watching Homefront and waiting for Batman and RNJ to come back and pick us up again.

Not long after graduation, RNJ entered a rebellious phase and she dumped Batman.  He and I had become friends though, or at least I thought so.  Looking back I realized that, at that time at least, Batman was the kind of guy who thought of nothing but you…  while you were in front of him.  But as soon as you left his sight, he promptly forgot about you.  Anyway, we were friends for a time over the summer.  I was out of school and probably held some appeal in that regard.  He was popular, funny, good looking and had no shortage of self confidence.  I really enjoyed being his friend.

One Summer, afternoon while at work, Batman invited me to come over to his house after we both go off work and spend the night.  His parents had this big, beautiful house with a kidney shaped pool in the back yard.  We stayed up half the night talking about all kinds of things, chief among them, RNJ, of course.  Batman deduced that I had feelings for her, and even though I flatly denied it, it seemed clear that there was something to what he was saying.  Certainly I had some affection for her, but there seemed more to the story.

We spent the next morning lying out next to the pool while he told me of all of his sexual escapades, of which there were many.  The part of my brain that was under Scornful Mother‘s programming was, well, scornful, of his behavior.  The larger part of my brain though, was enthralled.  I was impressed with his apparent prowess.  I was jealous of his nerve and adventurousness.  I was envious of his experience.  And I was glad that we were sprawled out on our stomach’s and he couldn’t see what was happening in my swimming trunks thinking about him in the various sexual endeavors he described.  Even then I couldn’t really accept what that might mean.

I decided a the last minute to go off to college in the fall and we didn’t have any interaction for several months and when I returned at the end of the semester, I had a wrecked car to pay for, a job to work full-time and before long a fiance to connect with (another story for another time.)  Batman had his senior year in high school, an untold number of girlfriends and a very emotionally – if not physically – abusive home life to contend with.  (Something I didn’t know about until years later.)  We grew apart during that time.

That October, I took Dead Beat Dad up on an offer to come live with him for a time while I earned money to buy a car and have more freedom and independence for when I got married the following year.  Batman joined the military, almost as soon as he graduated from high school and that seemed to be the end of our relationship.

I stayed at Dead Beat Dad‘s house for nine months, during which time, my fiance took up with my so-called best friend, started going partying at clubs on a regular basis, cheated on me with an unspecified number of men, broke up with me and got engaged to another man.  All this, while I was out of town on a mission we agreed was important to undertake for the betterment of our future together.  Not two weeks after I returned to Oklahoma, she married another man who she left six months later, just to take up with her boss and get pregnant with his child.

I lived in Oklahoma for six months that time before I got promoted to Store Manager and moved away again.  I was gone from The Town Named for Damaged Native American Weaponry for about nine months before I decided I couldn’t continue in my career path and I gave up my position to move back in with Scornful Mother and give school another try.  School never did work out but I’d been thinking about Batman a lot at that point, wondering what ever happened to him and missing our friendship.  So when I returned to TTNFDNAW I looked him up.  I was anxious about calling him.  What if he didn’t want to reconnect with me?  What if he was still cooler than I and didn’t want to have anything to do with me?  What if this person in the phone book, with his name, wasn’t even the same guy?

I sent him a letter saying if he was the same guy and he wanted to reconnect that he should give me a call at Scornful Mother‘s house.  A week later, he called and my heart danced in my chest!  He wanted to get together for lunch the following week.  He was working for an earlier incarnation of The Soul Crushing Telecom Company and invited me to come out for a tour of the site and lunch at a local eatery.  Naturally, I agreed.

I was sitting in the main lobby of the company campus waiting for him to come and greet me when I saw something I couldn’t believe.  Off in the distance I saw something that vaguely represented my friend known as Batman but was more reminiscent of The Penguin.  It turned out that, when Mrs. Batman got pregnant with Bat Baby they decided they were ready to exit Military Service.  Apparently, that was relatively easy for Mrs. Batman to accomplish, but Batman would have to be a bit creative.  Batman immediately stopped exercising and started over eating.  When it came time for his PT (Physical Tests) he was no longer able to pass them, and he was given an honorable discharge.

After filling me in on the years I had missed in his life; his marriage and recent birth of his six week old Bat-daughter, he told me about The Company and how they were always hiring.  He told me about their benefits.  I’ll never forget the moment he pushed his glasses up his nose and told me, “They offer really good Obstetrics coverage.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.  “I’m sure that came in handy for you, but I’d settle for some decent optometry coverage.”

Batman explained to me how they hire through a temp agency and how I should go there and register.  He’d put in a word for me with the hiring manager and get me in for an interview.  The rest of the story is fairly obvious.  I interviewed for a trainee position through the temp agency and was offered the slot.  I wouldn’t be hired permanently by the company till I finished the training program and proved I could handled the job.  I wasn’t concerned.

When I got the call that they were going to bring me in I called Batman to share the good news.  He was excited for me, and very encouraging.  And then he dropped the bomb.  “Unfortunately, I won’t still be there,” he said.  “Mrs. Batman and I are moving to California.”

Batman‘s entire family had moved away, and in fact he’d been renting and living in his parents house that he lived in during high School, the last of his multi-syllabic named clan in town.  Mrs. Batman’s mother lived in Turlock, California and she operated a day care center out of her home.  She’d made an offer to have them move in with her.  Bat-baby would stay in the day care while Batman would go work and Mrs. Batman would go to Dental Hygienist school while they concentrated on paying off their debt so they could buy a house.  I was, of course really disappointed that he was leaving after we’d reconnected, but what could I do.  I offered my support and encouragement and offered any help I could provide.  The week before I started the training program I helped him load a 26′ Penske truck with everything they owned in preparation for their cross half the country trip to Turlock, California. The night before they left town, after I’d helped load the last of their belongings in the truck and left them for the last time, I sobbed in my bed as I thought about what I’d gained and immediately lost again.

By the time I finished training, Batman had gotten hired and was fully established in a position with the same company, but in the San Jose, California office and he e-mailed me to keep in touch.  To keep a long story short, he helped me get my foot in the door with The Soul Crushing Telecom Company in the Bay Area.  That October, I flew to California for a week where I interviewed with Batman‘s boss and looked at a few apartments in the area.  It was at this time that the offer was extended for me to come to California and stay with Batman et. al., even if it wasn’t for the the position with TSCTC.

I chose not to accept the full time position that I was offered in Oklahoma because company policy would have prohibited me from being hired in California, even if I had quit the job in Oklahoma to move and accept the new position.  Little did I know it would take four more months for anything to happen.  Finally, in March of the following year, I was giving a verbal offer of employment and I quit my temp job and moved to California to stay with my “new family” and get started with the rest of my life.

While I was on my own half-cross-country drive from The Town Named for Damaged Native American Weaponry, The Soul Crushing Telecom Company announced that they had just bought out another local telecommunications company and that they were instituting a hiring freeze until all that companies employees had been assimilated into the population.  I was concerned, but mostly just happy to be moving to California (a dream I didn’t know I had, coming true) and to be living with my good friend.

It is a little known fact that there are three factors in life that tend to trigger depression in just about anyone.  1) Marriage, Divorce or A Death in the Family, 2) Career Change or 3) Major Relocation.  I had two of the three working against me, plus being already predisposed to depression, plus, as it turned out the Bat-Mother-in-Law was determined to come between Batman and his wife and was happy to use me to make that happen.

I lived with the Bat Brood for four long, hard months.  It was horrible for me, feeling like an outsider and seeing that my relationship with Batman was quickly slipping away.  When all was said and done I can only congratulate Batman for standing up to the Bat-Mother-in-Law and not letting her come between him and the Bat-wife, but it was at my expense.

By the time it was over, there was nothing left of my friendship with Batman.  He did make a few attempts here and there to remain friends but I couldn’t get beyond the fact that he had put his wife and her mother ahead of me, when they were doing such evil things to run me out.  (The Bat-wife got snookered, at least for a time, by the Bat-Mother-in-Law.)  Soon, his attempts to continue our friendship gave out and we stopped communicating.

In the summer of 2001, I was contemplating the idea of joining the California National Guard.  I was sick of my life (not unlike I am now) and I desperately needed to do something to make a change and to take control.  I was sick of my body, sick of my mind and sick of having my life.  I thought joining the CNG would 1) whip me into shape, 2) Help me find myself and 3) change my entire existence for the better.  I had no interest in going oversees or going into battle, but I was interested in getting the training and willing to take the risk of being involved in some disaster relief efforts, or God forbid, some police actions.  At one point I had a meeting with a recruiter and was seriously giving it some consideration but thought I should get some information from someone who knew stuff.  I sent an e-mail to Batman asking him to meet me for lunch so I could get some information from him.  He agreed to meet me and I drove to Stockton, California where he was working to meet up for lunch.  I sat in the parking lot waiting for him.  About ten minutes after I arrived, he came down the sidewalk in my direction.  He was just a sliver of who he had been the last time I saw him….  and he looked awesome!

He told me everything I wanted to know about being in Boot Camp/Basic Training and what he thought I’d be getting myself into.  I told him that I apologized for my part in all the hurt that happened when I lived with him and his family.  That I was struggling emotionally and the turmoil was just too much for me, but that it’s no excuse.  We said we’d keep in touch, and continue to work on our friendship and neither of us has made an effort to contact the other since.  And a few weeks later, some psychopaths flew two commercial airplanes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.  I knew we would be going to war, and while I was as enraged as the next American at the events of that day, I knew I could not go to Afghanistan, or Iraq, or any of the other countries and fight a war that I felt had no purpose.  And I knew if I signed any enlistment papers, I would be doing just that.

My life has gone on since then, without Batman and without the military but not without it’s price.  I still think about him and about the friendship I lost.  I still think about how great he looked that day lying by the pool, and about how confident he was, everyday, even as a fat man, and how sexy that made him.  And I still miss that friendship.

About a year ago, I had a dream about Batman and the Mrs…

Part two of this story will follow in the next day or two.

A Turning Point, Part 1

If you read this post then you know that there has been trouble brewing in my relationship with Vengeful Mother for a very long time.  What follows is a re-visitation of what brought that trouble to the fore:

In September of 2004 I was halfway through my third year working for The Company that Created the HMO (just ask ’em) and I had been working as an “Assistant Project Coordinator.”  This was a title that was very much a misnomer as, I hadn’t coordinated any projects.  I was really a lot of things.  I was in charge of safety training for the building.  I had oversight of our Janitorial Contractor.  I was the de facto supervisor of my office when the Facility Services Manager (Douche Bag) was out, I was the guy that everyone came to when they had questions or concerns or needed information.  I was “the man”.  I had been told by Fantastical Engineer that, if The Company that Created the HMO had such a job title, I’d essentially be the Assistant Facility Manager.

Douche Bag had been working on promoting me, but there were some issues that were complicating things.  The promotion he was trying to give me was to “Project Coordinator” (logically).  Only problem was there was a $10,000+ difference between my salary and the minimum salary of that position which meant a 24% raise, which was not going to happen.  At the time it was looking like my choices were to accept the promotion with a 10% raise which would make my salary more than $6000.00 less than the minimum (and I’d never catch up) or they’d attempt to put the promotion through with a 15% raise and  be only $4000.00 short.  But, there was no guarantee that raise would be approved and then they couldn’t resubmit it for 10% meaning I’d been screwed out of the promotion entirely.  In retrospect I realize that might have been the best thing but at the time it certainly didn’t seem that way.  When all was said and done, I was promoted to “Project Specialist” which was in intermediate step that DB didn’t even know about, and I received a 14.5% raise that put me into the appropriate salary range for that position.  Before that happened I was really praying for something to come through and looking for support.  I’d had previous conversations with Vengeful Mother about it and wanted to fill her in on what the developments were.  This conversation took place, via instant message on September 15, 2004:

Self: So the latest is, I get 10% now, I’m still eligible for a merit increase at the end of the year and in march the position gets reviewed and I get bumped up whatever amount to get me to the minimum.  Nothing is definite yet.  Nothing is in writing yet.  But that’s what it looks like.  With the paperwork he’ll (Douche Bag) be submitting a 90 day action plan and goals for me to accomplish in the first 6 months.  If for any reason the position doesn’t get reviewed and bumped up, he can give me an evaluation and another 10% raise.

Vengeful Mother: Sounds like something we can get into agreement about.  Of course you can count on me to say this but…  At the same time you should be plugging the leaks in your blessing dam by getting into church and beginning to tithe and give and so forth.

This is an old song and dance and I just couldn’t take it anymore:

Self: Yep.  I know I can count on you.

VM: Do you understand that I’m right?

Self: What do you expect me to say?

VM: I expect you to answer my question.

Self: Well, I know that’s what we’ve heard all my life, but honestly?  I haven’t seen a whole lot of proof of it.  Not just in my life.  In yours too.  And in Dead Beat Dad’s.  And in CPA Sis’s.

VM: Is the Word of God proof enough?  If nobody else in the world manages to get it right (but many have), it doesn’t change the Word of God or His faithfulness.  We could argue all day about what you’ve seen with your eyes and experienced in your life – But the bottom line decision you (and every one of us) have to make is whether you will take God at his Word and move forward accordingly.  It’s very hard to believe God for His blessings on our lives, when our hearts condemn us because it knows we are not wholehearted in our pursuit of serving Him.  You’re an adult now.  You’re responsible before God for your own life.  Not for somebody Else’s.  As for me, I will never stop seeking to do better at it.  To overcome the things in my background and my subconscious and whatever else is involved that hinder me from victory.

Self: That’s not what I’m saying.  And I’m not saying it’s not true.  But the fact is, I’ve grown up watching you right your tithe check every week.  And at the same time I watched you struggle every day to make ends meet.  I’m not saying that tithing is a bad thing but when it comes down to $50.00 to either get you through the week or give away and never see again and struggle the rest of the week…

VM: I know what you’re saying.  The bottom line question remains the same.  And it isn’t to me you have to answer it.  It’s before God and in your everyday life–

Self: You’re the one that insists on asking me on a daily basis.

VM: What you don’t understand is that, without that tithe, we would have gone under long ago.  You have to decide for yourself.  I’m only trying to remind you.  Redemption is an ongoing process that happens every day of our lives for as long as we live on this earth.  The degree to which it is able to work for us is the degree to which we cooperate with the process by seeking to understand and do the things God has laid out for us in His Word.  I love you and I want to see the best in your life.

Self: Well, what you don’t understand is that I’m working on it every day.  I’m trying very hard but it’s not an easy proposition.  And you really don’t help me.

VM: “Working on it” and “trying very hard”, are so much easier when we put ourselves under the teaching of the Word.  That’s why I want to see you go to church.

Self: You don’t seem to realize though that when you say things like this you make me feel inadequate.  Like you have no confidence in me or in the job you did in raising me.  And that’s a set-back for me.

VM: Dont’ be silly.  You KNOW I have confidence in you, and you know I believe in the way I raised you.  Just put that nonsense aside and understand that putting you in remembrance, as the Apostle Paul put it, is a thing that is good for you.  We all need it, and we are all to do it for each other.

Self: No I don’t.  I never have–

VM: Well you should.  I’ve told you many times.

Self: I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say to that.  Words are one thing.  Actions are another.  You wouldn’t let any of us go to our Senior Prom’s because you felt like the point was to “put young people in the mood.”  But you couldn’t accept that you had raised us better.  You’ve been unsupportive of every potential degree choice I’ve ever had, because you didn’t think I could do it and stay faithful.  You were critical of my choice to live in San Francisco because of the gay community.  And this conversation that we’ve had part of over and over again.  You can say you have confidence but you don’t show it.  You have no idea how much that hurts me.

At this point she had to take a phone call at work and by the time she returned to me I was away from my desk.  When I returned she had signed off her IM but I found the following message waiting for me:

VM: Well.  I’m really sorry you feel that way.  I’m telling you now.  You’ll have to believe me or not.  The choice is yours.  But you do need to forgive and forget a lot of things.  That much is obvious.  You can’t keep nursing grudges and hurt feelings.  They just get bigger and bigger and more and more crippling over time.

And you need to try and see my side of it as well.  It would be much easier for me to not be concerned about you if I knew you were involved in things that build you up spiritually.  You’re no different from anyone else.  The fact that I’m concerned about you is no reflection on you personally.  NO ONE can remove himself from spiritual nourishment and not suffer from it.  And the simple truth is that the Word of God commands us not to neglect “the assembly of [ourselves] together” especially “as [we] see the day [of the return of Christ] approaching.”

It isn’t fair for you to try to say that if I have confidence in you I have to believe that there’s no way you can fall prey to the things that Satan has in place to trip you up or rob you of God’s blessings.  Or to say that if I admonish or remind you of these things it means I don’t have confidence in you.  Neither of those things is true.  I love you.  I have great confidence in you and I’m constantly amazed at your abilities and things you do.

I e-mailed the following response to Vengeful Mother knowing it’d go over by a Lead Balloon, which was, in fact the title of the e-mail:

First of all, you need to understand that I’m not holding any grudges.  I suppose I can understand why you would say that, but that’s no the case.  When I gave the examples I gave, it was simply that, giving examples.  I learned a long time ago not to make sweeping generalizations (especially within this family) without supporting data.  As far as “forgive and forget” goes, I don’t even know what that means.  Forgiveness is a choice and I’ve made that choice over and over again with a lot of people in my life for as long as I can remember.  Forgetting on the other hand doesn’t make any sense to me.  One can’t control what they can and can’t (or do and don’t) remember.  I always assume that scripture to mean that you don’t hold it against someone.  In practical application, I suppose that makes sense, but the reality is that if you pretend it didn’t happen (as is what that scripture implies) than you just leave yourself open to be hurt and taken advantage of over and over again.  So how do you “forgive and forget” but still guard your heart and yourself and not be abused?

You said, “It would be much easier for me not to be concerned about you if I knew you were involved in things that build you up spiritually.“, which in and of itself is a criticism.  You went on to say, “You’re no different from anyone else.  The fact that I’m concerned about you is no reflection on you personally.”  I’d have to disagree with that.  I know you can’t talk to everyone the way you talk to me.  People who aren’t your children and obligated to let you say whatever you want, wouldn’t have it.  At least not as constantly and relentlessly as it has been with me.

NO ONE can remove himself from spiritual nourishment and not suffer from it.”  How in the world can you make the assumption that I get no spiritual nourishment?  You don’t know what I do, or how I spend my time.  You don’t know what I read, or how much time I spend praying or how often I listen to praise and worship music.  And you certainly don’t know where my heart is or how I feel.  The fact is that I do read the books I got at Rhema.  I do read my Bible.  I spent more than a year reading the Bible cover to cover with no interruptions.  I’m not ignorant on the subject.  And I often listen to my RS&B CDs as well as other Praise and Worship CDs.  I’m not saying that’s a substitution for going to church, but as far back as I can remember I haven’t gotten any more out of going to church than I have out of these activities.

And I’m sorry, but it isn’t fair for you to say to me that, “It isn’t fair for [me] to try to say that if [you] have confidence in [me] [you] have to believe that there’s no way [I] can fall prey to the things that Satan has in place to trip [me] up and rob [me] of God’s blessings.”  Because I didn’t say that.  But if you had faith in me, you would assume the best of me instead of assuming the worst.  And you wouldn’t feel the need to constantly make comments and assumptions.  Or, at least you shouldn’t.

What really upsets me about this is I don’t know how to make you understand.  You have no idea the kind of power you hold over me.  It’s hard for me to believe it myself, but it’s true.  You affect everything I do.  My first thought is always, “I wonder what Mom would think”, or “I should tell Mom about this.”  But much of the time, “what Mom would think” is negative.  You don’t realize that I have lived my life for you.  And I know you won’t believe or understand it, but it’s true.  My whole life has been about making you happy and getting your unconditional love and approval and support.  I’ve waited and waited for that, for you to realize it and give me what I need, but it just doesnt’ happen.

That doesn’t mean I don’t believe you love me.  I know you do.  And I know you did the best you could raising us.  I don’t fault you for that in any way.  But just like you don’t know my heart, I can’t know yours.  All I can go by is your actions and your actions have always said that you don’t have faith in me and that you don’t have faith in the job you did of raising me.  If you did have faith in the job you did of raising me, you’d trust that I know what’s right and be a person you could be proud of.  And by the way, just for the sake of clarity, I’m not talking about your confidence in me and my abilities on a physical level.  I’m talking about your confidence in me spiritually and morally.

The thing that bothers me the most about this whole thing is that after having a heartfelt discussion about myself and my feelings and emotions, you simply disregarded them as invalid and proceeded to do the same thing that I just finished telling you was hurting me.  The simple fact that I said, “You have no idea how much that hurts me” should have had some impact.  But it seems you’re more concerned with believing that you’re right and “knowing” that you’re doing the best thing, than you are with how much I need your love and support, not by way of telling me what I should be doing or where I fall short, but by showing with your every action how much you love me and believe in me, just the way I am.

It saddens me to think that I have laid all this bare for you, and I think I know that you will not believe or accept it as accurate.  I wish I knew just the right thing to say to make it so that you will.  But when it’s all said and done, I guess all I can say is, I’ve told you the truth.  I’ve told you how I feel and what I need.  Beyond that I don’t know what to expect.

More of this riveting (I’m sure) story to follow.