Bludgeon. Mhhhmmmm, a delicious word. Like curmudgeon. One of the reasons I am generally happy and content is that I carefully nurture my inner curmudgeon, by rigorously maintaining a kill list.
Over the past several years of mindful contemplation, I have come to the conclusion that there is little point in being disgusted at oneself.
There are a number of questionable and sometimes mildly nefarious things that I do in secret (yes, in secret, no, I’m not sharing what) but as a sort of typically unremarkable middle-class averagely-educated western woman with no hugely significant trauma in her past and no remarkable medical conditions, I figure there’s probably loads of other ‘normal’ people doing similar things in secret too. And worse.
Ah, those lovely gentlewomen who protest that they’ve never picked their noses let alone eaten the excavated treasure; never farted let alone casually lifted and dropped their leg under the duvet to waft the hot pungent air up for a delight-filled sniff; never been jealous of a friend’s good fortune let alone gone on to wish them good and properly dead…
I love to review and edit my precious mental list of the people I would see relieved of their mortal toil.
With some, it’s a vague ‘read about it in a newspaper one day’ thing; with others, I am quite powerfully struck by the most suitable manner of their demise: the graceless Elvis-style lavatory heart attack, quicksand, slowly freezing on a broken down ski-lift, electrocution, that freak accident at the monster truck derby, and of course, the good old fashioned bludgeon…
There are never any graphic mental images to accompany this process, I don’t actually imagine the deaths. There’s no blood or gore or feelings of horror, it’s a simple meditative exercise not that far removed from mentally assembling my grocery shopping list.
Before you turn away, horrified and aghast, for me it works as just a slightly more exaggerated way of saying a silent “Fuck You” to people who have pissed me off, it stops me brooding or becoming overly preoccupied with injustices and ignorant acts.
Most people who maintain a long term position on the list are those who have been guilty of discrimination of some kind, especially those who have expressed negative, derogatory or ignorant views about chronic illness or hidden disability, particularly about autism.
There’s a lot of seemingly nice people who meet those criteria. The suburban Mummy world I inhabit is generally a place where a conversation that contains “…daughter is on the autism spectrum” also contains the reply “Oh, I’m sorry.”
The full responses generally fall into one of two types:
1) Oh I’m Sorry = Genuinely Felt and Believed to be Appropriate Emotional Response
Dealing with the niceys is frustrating. They don’t really deserve to go on the kill list.
They are being nice, misguidedly so, but trying all the same. They aren’t sorry, however, for the things they should be sorry for – the outright prejudice and discrimination against autistic people through to the more subtle ignorance, misguided pity and apathy towards autism – they are sorry for the kid getting the bad autism.
When I try to carefully and positively explain that there is absolutely no reason for them to offer up their sorry, it is commonly seen/misunderstood/dismissed as a devoted mum simply being brave about it all.
Replying otherwise by asking (perhaps with gritted teeth and slightly-too-starey eyes) WHY they are sorry is seen as confrontational. But yet, even this unseemly aggression is almost always instantly forgiven because obviously this devoted mum is angry and emotional because she has been so brave about it all for so long.
So brave. So long.
No easy way to win someone round in that situation.
One could put them up against the wall jabbing them in the forehead with a pointy finger until they are clear about neu-ro-di-ver-si-ty.
Not the best idea. So sometimes, they spend a short while on the kill list. Only a short while, they are technically a nicey after all. Unlike:
2) Oh I’m Sorry = Autonomic ‘Fill Time Whilst I Reassess Our Relationship’ Reflex Response
There’s a clear undertone to it, a sudden dawning and rapid readjustment of relative status. No one wants their child to buddy up with a kid from the wrong social group, let alone some bastard kid who has a hidden disability, like WTF?
You were letting your kid hang out with the normals, the aspirationals, but all the time you knew they had special needs that were hidden? OMG. You must now be treated with suspicion, nothing more you say can be trusted.
This conversation invariably concludes with “Oh babe, we must go to Costa, you must tell me all about it, let’s sort out a date for coffee…” which actually means “we are never going to sort out a date for a coffee, if we were going to sort out a date for a coffee, that’s the conversation we would be having right now, not making a vague commitment to finding a future time to sort out a date for a coffee, but neither of us are going to actually say that, are we, right?”.
Not that much point shoving this type up against a wall either. Although rather more tempting……. so I put them on my kill list and move on to enjoy the rest of my day.
Not sure you believe me that this really happens, that people really react like this?
There was a brief period of time when daughter first started school where her differences were not apparent to the uninitiated nor had been spoken about, she masqueraded happily as a ‘normal’, a really cute-looking one too.
During this time I popped in for coffee with various mummies in daughter’s class as we got to know each other, and sussed out our cliques.
I had one such ‘date’ with a mum whose child had very quickly become close friends with another child in the class who was already outed, officially special needs, (and en route to potential autism diagnosis as well as the other stuff).
This mum explained quite matter-of-factly and without embarrassment how she felt about the friendship:
“it’s fine for now, really lovely, sweet, but you know… whether it will always be OK…”
Hhmmnnyyeaaaahh. Of course.
This polite sugar-sprinkled exclusion is happening all the time, I’ve met so many parents of autistic kids who have moments like this to share.
I don’t know exactly what the answer is on how to resolve it so, for now, that ‘nice’ mummy is on the list. She’s face-down in a side alley. It was a quick painless death but her memory will always be slightly marred with the awkwardness of dying having bonked her head when she slipped over on an almighty massive dog shit.
Judge me all you like. I’m sure there’s worse stuff going on in your head.