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I'm writing to you under the influence of a little alcohol (as I'm not sure I'd have the courage to write to you about this sober). 

My mother left her e-mail logged in on my computer, and I decided to be an asshole and snoop out of boredom. I found a few intimate e-mails that pretty much confirmed she was cheating on my dad.

My parents have been married for almost three decades, and it's kind of an understatement to say he's an antisocial psycho. He restricted her from so many things during their marriage -- partly for religious/cultural reasons -- and did not appreciate what he had. He's been a physical wreck for most of their marriage and has no personality to compensate. (I could go on about how abusive and fucked up he was during my childhood, but that's a whole other issue.) My mother, on the other hand, is one of the nicest and most caring people you could meet. She's also "hot" -- a lot of my friends have pointed that out to me.

OK: Dad's an abusive asshole and borderline psycho, and Mom's a beautiful woman with a lot of opportunities and social skills. The only reason she didn't leave him was to keep the family together and for those same stupid cultural reasons. But it's hard knowing my mom is a CPOS. It's killing my older brother, who is close to her. He feels betrayed, because for years he's defended her against my father when he accuses her of cheating and calls her a whore. So what the hell to say?

Mother Obliterated Monogamy

 

Here's what you say to your mother: "Good for you, Mom."

But you're going to say it under your breath, MOM, audible but not quite loud enough for your mother to hear.

Because you're not going to confront her about this affair, or any other affair that you might uncover. And you and your brother are going to go right on defending your mother and you're going to show a little respect -- a little retroactive respect -- for your mother's privacy by pretending that you don't know what you do know. Is that clear?

Your mom sounds like a lovely woman. You and your brother should be happy that she managed to find solace in the arms of a man who isn't a raving asshole. She deserves that, doesn't she? As for the "CPOS" label, that gets slapped only on people who cheat without cause, and it sure sounds like your mom had cause. She's not a cheating piece of shit. She's cheating on a piece of shit.

Maybe your mom should've divorced your father, but for reasons that will only ever be known to her, she decided that keeping her family intact was more important than remaining faithful to an antisocial psycho. It's easy to call everyone who cheats a POS, but sometimes an affair is the least worst option.

As for your brother's feelings of betrayal: Maybe your dad was right and your mom was cheating on him throughout their marriage and your brother was a fool to defend your mother. Or maybe your mom decided, after being accused of cheating again and again, that if she was going to be accused, indicted and tried for that crime, she might as well have the pleasure of committing it. Encourage your brother to give your mother the benefit of the doubt. It sounds like she deserves it.

 

I'm a 28-year-old gay man. My only sibling is getting married next year, and I'm invited. My family doesn't support my gayness. My mom has met my boyfriend only once and refused to be in his presence for more than two minutes. Should I bring my boyfriend to the wedding? My invitation came with only my name on it.

Brother Of The Bride

 

You say: "Hey, Sis. Looking forward to the wedding. I've been seeing a great guy for two years now, as you know, and I'm planning on bringing him to the wedding."

If she says, "Don't bring him. It'll just piss off Mom," then you say, "I'm coming with my boyfriend or I'm not coming at all -- and remember, one day Mom will be dead and it's just going to be you and me. So you should be more concerned about pissing me off."

If she says, "I don't want your gay boyfriend at my wedding," then you say, "If you don't want gays at your wedding, you shouldn't have invited me. I want to be there -- but if I come, I'm bringing my boyfriend."

Have the confrontation now, so you can't be accused of making trouble/drama right before your sister's wedding. But you need to dictate terms to your family: They can have their homophobia or they can have you in their lives. They can't have both.

 

Last year around this time, you promised to share your mom's Christmas cookie recipe. I would love to try it out.

Jason

 

I'm delighted to share my mom's recipe. She made these chocolate snowballs when her kids were young. Once they were grown, Ma Savage shipped these cookies to us if we couldn't make it home for Christmas. I made some earlier this month, had a little sob (I'm still missing my mom), and got some tins off to my siblings on her behalf.

Ma Savage's Christmas Snowballs
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecans
confectioners' sugar

Sift flour, salt and cocoa together. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, and add vanilla. Gradually beat dry ingredients into butter and sugar. Blend in pecans. Form dough into a loaf, wrap it up, put in fridge overnight.

Cut loaf into inch-thick slices, cut slices into inch-square cubes, roll cubes into balls about one inch in diameter. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes maximum. Transfer cookies off sheets right away and allow to cool completely. Put cookies in tub or tin, sift confectioners' sugar over cookies, put lid on, turn tin or tub over a few times to coat cookies with confectioners' sugar.

Enjoy my mom's cookies and have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

 

Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at thestranger.com/savage.

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