Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween Dear Readers! I am off to school right now, but only for a little while. We're having a Halloween party in my class. The students talked me into it. when I was little we always had Halloween parties in school. I remember exactly how it went. We'd decorate the classroom, someone's mom would bring cupcakes. We'd have orange punch, candied apples, popcorn balls and rice krispy treats. We could have homemade treats at school where we trusted the moms not to put arsenic in them. We'd end our lessons early and then the parents would come. Then we'd change into our costumes and parade around to every other classroom so everyone could see our costumes. When we were done we'd go back to our own classroom and watch as all the other classes paraded through. Then we'd color pumpkins and listen to a scratchy record of Halloween songs and spooky noises.

I'm going to be back later to write a scary story for you, but for now you can read last year's scary story HERE.

In the meantime, tell me about your best Halloween memory in the comments. I like hearing other people's stories a lot. I really enjoyed the candy discussions.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

You Must See This

You seriously have to see this post. I am dying from the sad cuteness of it. Dying, people. It is the cutest thing I have ever seen.

Look at it and tell me you don't agree.

A leetle frozen bunneh tryin to get warms.

It's all about that fur swirling against the glass.

My Kitchen


In an ongoing effort to share more of my real life with you all, my dear readers, I present to you a picture of my kitchen which I have slaved over, decorating for Halloween with my pumpkin pot holder and black cat dish towels, hung like a fire hazard on the oven door. I've moved back to my apartment, and this is my kitchen there. I love it. I'd show you the rest of my place if you all want, but I'd have to clean it first. This is the only clean room at the moment and obviously the most festive.

Halloween Candy

I have this horrible competitive streak. I always have to be the best and this need for perfection often manifests itself in weird ways. Like with the Halloween candy. I want to give out the very best Halloween candy. I must give out the best Halloween candy. If I don't give out the best Halloween candy this year I will feel like a failure. And yes, I know how totally ridiculous this is. I am well aware. Also, how would I even know if my candy was the best, unless I went trick or treating in disguise, saying I was a really, unusually tall eight year old? I just need to feel like I'm the best.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store to get Halloween candy and to my utter and very real horror, I discovered that candy is freaking expensive. It was over ten dollars for a bag of Nestle Crunches. Good lord. I couldn't even find Kit-Kats and a small bag of mini-Reeses was the same price. To get the candy I wanted it would have cost me a week's pay. Since when did candy get so expensive? Unfortunately I had to settle, because my need for perfection was overshadowed by my need to save money. I got some Blow-Pops, partly because I like them.

The other day Husband and I were having this discussion about how when we were little we always hoped for certain kinds of candy in our orange, plastic pumpkins. I was strictly Reeses Cups, Snickers, Nestle Crunch and Kit-Kat. That's all the candy I liked. I remember feeling distinctly gypped when I got a handful of Bit-o-Honeys. Sugar Daddies were even worse. Gum was usually ok because you could trade it with the kids at school, and it was usually Bazooka.

Bazooka bubble gum is one of the candies I always associate with Halloween. I don't remember having it other times of year. Same goes for Dums-Dums lollipops. I especially remember the cream soda flavor, which I didn't like. I think my favorite Dum-Dum was green apple possibly, but Dum-Dums can't compare to a good purple Blow Pop, not to be confused with a Tootsie-Pop.

Tootsie-Pops (eww) fall into the category of yucky candy. Husband agreed with me one and we had a good laugh remembering all the candy that pissed us off when we were little. Good and Plenty, we decided, may possibly be the worst candy ever made. It's only redeeming quality was that it looked like capsules and was good when you were playing doctor if you needed some pretend pills to give to the kids who had pretend lung cancer from too many candy cigarettes. Smarties also made great pills, as they look like aspirin. Other gross candies include: Necco wafers, Mike and Ike, Black Licorice, brown candy corn (orange was ok, but the brown one was totally out of the question), the afore mentioned tooth-pulling Sugar Daddies and bland Three Musketeers. We also remembered these horrible Life-Savers lollipops that were vanilla cream and either orange or strawberry swirled. Those things were awful. Regular Life-Savers were fine. Good even, especially if you got one of those exotic flavored rolls with the dark purple ones and the pineapple ones. I never have figured out what flavor those dark purple ones were.

Worse than all these gross candies were the rogue treat givers who decided they had to do things their own way. These people can be divided into two distinct categories. First we have the people who, in some idealistic fog of Halloweens past, remember a time when everyone didn't fear razors and cyanide in treats, and decided to go all out and make homemade treats. This was the biggest rip-off ever because the second you got home you knew the homemade treat was going straight into the trash and all that work for was naught. I never understood why people did this when they could just buy a bag of Snicker bars. Same goes for candied and caramel apples, which made your plastic pumpkin feel like you were lugging around a solid rock which reminded you even more that the second you got home it was going in the garbage too, so all the heaving and dragging and carrying that weight around was a waste of strength, which of course, an equal weight of Snicker bars would not be.

Worse yet were the people who decided to give out "healthy" treats. These people were decidedly anti-Halloween. We had a couple in every neighborhood I lived in adn Husband said they were in his neighborhood too. As a child I vowed never to grow up to be the sort of person who'd have the nerve to pass out small, red boxes of raisins when costumed children knocked at my door. Those people are evil. The raisins could have at least been chocolate covered. I hate those things, but at least they're better than plain raisins. My God.

One year some ass-wad on my street got the brilliant idea to pass out trial sized tubes of toothpaste and little toothbrushes. I know this person probably spent a lot of money on this, unless he or she was a dentist and got them for free, and I know this person was probably thinking that we children were going to rot out our teeth on all the other candy we were getting, so perhaps this person felt they were looking out for our best interests. We disagreed. For years after that house got its pumpkins smashed every Mischief Night and they stopped participating in trick or treat and turned off their porch lights, likely huddled inside with the shades drawn hoping the neighborhood children would think they were out of town or something. We weren't fooled. We knew the toothpaste people were like Halloween grinches; no fun and ruining the spirit of our favorite holiday.

The funny thing is that I rarely ate much of my Halloween candy. I'd eat a couple pieces that night and maybe the next day. The rest I gave away. I liked the hunt more than the spoils, I think. The idea of total strangers dumping handfuls of candy at me was a genius concept, I thought and I think I liked the idea of piles of candy more than actual piles of candy. I suspect my sweet husband did not share this sentiment. I'll bet he ate his candy. Except the Good and Plenty.

What were your favorite and most hated Halloween candies? What candies bring back the most childhood memories? What are you giving out this year?

Update: Moxie Mama made her own list! Check out hers too.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It Was So Cold Last Night That...


...Bombaclaat had to wear a sweater.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The "Mill" Pond


This is the pond for which I named my hometown. It's not really called Millpond. I made that name up, based on this very pond which sits square in the center of town. Millpond is in a low lying, swampy area that is puddled with many ponds and marshes. I always thought it was pretty to have a pond in the middle of town. When I was little we would fish in it and catch turtles on its banks. In the winters it used to freeze and everyone would go ice skating. Memere Marie is a fantastic skater and she was always excited for the pond to ice over so she could skate. Afterwards we would sip hot chocolate from a thermos as the snow fell. I feel like I'm so lucky to have these memories. The pond hasn't frozen in years and it hardly ever snows anymore. The climate is different than it used to be.

The House I Wished I Lived In


We used to pass this house on the way to the cemetery and I remember looking out the car window in absolute awe of this house with its gates. I wanted to live in this house more than you can imagine. I thought it was the grandest thing I'd ever seen in my life. My mother told me that when she was growing up a family lived in it that had like six or seven kids and that the parents were alcoholics and let the kids run wild and have huge drug parties. This was disappointing to me, as you can imagine. I always figured the people who lived there walked around in period clothing and threw elegant tea parties in there. This time when I went back, it looked pretty shabby to tell you the truth. It wasn't doing it for me anymore. Maybe it's the mental image of strung out teenagers lolling around inside that ruined it.

The House Where I Grew Up


When I was up in Millpond, I realized that I needed to take a lot of pictures of the places where I had lived and been in order to best write my memoir, so Bella and I went around with the camera. I also thought you guys might find it interesting and that it might help you picture some of the settings of my stories. This is the house I grew up in for most of my childhood. This was Mommom Jewel and Pop Byron's house. They moved a few years ago into an apartment because they could no longer perform the upkeep on the house with the yard and the laundry in the basement and all. It was too hard for them to get around. They bought this house in 1959 and it looks much the same now as it did when I was little. There are a few changes. There used to be two huge pin oak trees in the front yard. In the 90s there was a bad ice storm and it ruined the trees and the state came and cut them down. The yard has looked barren to me ever since. The new owner added the rails by the steps and changed the landscaping, but not a lot. The window on the far left end was my bedroom window. Another odd change I noticed was that the house number is 4509 now. It used to be 13.

Fall Has Arrived

People are freaking out down here. It got cold yesterday. Readers, I'm not kidding you about this. The high today is ONLY 70 degrees. We may all freeze to death in South Florida. I think I saw ice in the Intracoastal. We had better bust out the fur coats because tonight it might get into the 40s. They said so on the news.

But I like it and this is the perfect week for this - Halloween!! My favorite holiday which never quite feels right when it's 85. At night.

I think I'll get a pumpkin spice latte on the way to school!
Sunday, October 26, 2008

It said "Beefsteak" Bitch!

I didn't mean to pull a disappearing act on you all but wow this has been a hectic week for me. I had a big story to write (still not done by the way), two doctor's appointments, I moved back into my apartment (huge ordeal), unpacked all the crap I had somehow managed to accumulate at my parents' house, felt like a horse kicked me after having a flu shot, and of course I welcomed my parents back home. They got here yesterday and I was very happy to see them. Of course they brought many, interesting and exciting stories with them from their year in Los Angeles. One of them I must share with you all right now.

My mother recently mentioned this and a few people got all up in arms because the story involved an individual who currently identifies as female but may or may not have at one point had a penis. This story is not intended to say anything remotely bad about transexual people. They can't help being born that way. It is an extremely difficult life because of so many fears and prejudices directed at them, so I in no way want to perpetuate something that awful and as a matter of fact I have, in the past, worked with two transexual people and found them to be lovely people. Also, the verdict is still out on whether or not LaShay is transexual, so I'm just going to act like she's a regular woman and let you make your own decisions. I'd also like to add that while I am all about love and rights and respect for transexual people, I do think it's wrong to lie, directly or by omission, about something that big to a potential partner, which could be happening in this situation. And no matter what your genitalia is or was, it's wrong to take advantage of mentally challenged people, and that is for sure happening. I fear another Brad-like situation is going down with Dougie.

You may recall that Dougie is the guy my parents picked up and had living with them for the past five months out in LA. Dougie is slow. No one knows exactly what is wrong with him, but it's something. Most evidence points to a brain injury of some kind which Dougie received some money for, because he isn't poor. I'm not saying he's exactly rich either, but he has enough to get by without working. My mother alluded to him doing some kind of work at home thing, but I don't quite know what it is or if it's true. Anyway, he's been with my family since last May and my parents gave him a makeover and started taking him places and he started to make friends for the first time in his life. Maybe it was the Ed Hardy they dressed him up in. But Dougie, though slow, is really nice, so it's no wonder that people would like him and that con artists would choose him as the perfect mark.

By and by Dougie got confident and started going out in LA by himself and pretty soon he came back home with LaShay, a six foot two, scantily clad black woman who looked like a ghetto, low class, trashy-assed hooker. She had a pink hair weave, dressed like Lil Kim and carried a teacup yorkie named Sugar Mama around in her pocketbook. Everyone who saw LaShay thought she was a drag queen. I'm not making any judgment just yet. It could just be that she looks like one because of all the bad plastic surgery she's had. She looks like someone shot her face full of motor oil. She probably got her cheek implants, botox, lip injections and breast implants done in the back of an Impala at the flea market. That's how bad she looks. In fact, I think if she had come to me for her cosmetic surgery, that I probably could have done a better job and my only training is watching three episodes of "Doctor 90210." See, I tend to believe that LaShay is not a tranny, because all of the drag queens and transexuals I've known have had better taste than this hot ghetto mess. Still though, a lot of people, strangers even, were coming up to Dougie and asking him if he knew his girlfriend was a dude.

He insisted that LaShay was not transexual. She was always making him buy her tampax. And the reason they didn't have sexual relations was because she was religious. LaShay was not brought up that way. Na Anh. LaShay was a good girl. She ain't just givin' it up like that. She has to be married.

LaShay was, however, totally ok with Dougie taking her out to fancy restaurants every day and taking her shopping at Beverly Center. She was also ok with moving in to my parents' apartment, inviting her friends over, eating all my mother's frozen pizzas and loudly watching "The View" every morning and yelling at the TV. She also let Sugar Mama poop and pee on the floor. Yes my parents allowed this. Eventually my mother got sick of it and kicked her out, but still. They did allow it. I think it was because they felt sorry for Dougie and wanted him to find true love, although it quickly became apparent that LaShay was looking for a meal ticket and a bed. My parents are too kind. This bitch wouldn't have lasted a second with me. I hate "The View."

So within about a week, and several shopping trips, LaShay had Dougie completely whipped and was becoming increasingly more and more demanding. She was also extremely rude, loud and low class and was embarassing to be around in public with her all looking like a crack whore version of RuPaul and wearing cut-out, leopard spandex cat suits.

One night, just before my mother had about had it with LaShay and her antics, my parents were going to a very fancy, elegant steakhouse for a romantic dinner. Dougie begged to come along because LaShay said she wanted to go there and nowhere else would do. She wanted to go too. My parents relented even though everyone in the restaurant stared at them as they walked by, which LaShay loved because everytime she caught someone looking at her, she'd smack her lips and go:

"Mmm Hmm. You want this ass baby, I know it. Oh yeah. I'm looking good."

My mother ordered a caesar salad for her first course.

"Mmm. I want a salad too," LaShay said, "I want the beefsteak tomato salad."

The salads arrived at the table. My mother had her caesar and LaShay got her beefsteak tomato salad. My parents noticed that LaShay had become agitated. She huffed and puffed and sucked her teeth and threw herself all around in her chair, pouting.

"What's wrong LaShay?" my mother asked.

"Look at this shit," LaShay said.

The salad looked fine.

"I am not letting them get away with this," LaShay said.

She yelled for the waiter.

"Is there a problem with the salad?" he asked.

"Umm, excuse me? Do you see this salad?" she said.

Then she huffed and puffed and pointed at the salad with her three inch long, curved gold nails.

"You did order the beefsteak tomato salad, didn't you?" asked the waiter.

"Exactly," said LaShay, "There you go."

"That is the beefsteak tomato salad ma'am."

"You think I'm a idiot or something? You think 'cause I'm black you can get away with this shit? You gave me a plate of tomatoes! I ordered the BEEF STEAK salad and your ass brings me a plate of tomatoes."

"No LaShay, beefsteak is a kind of tomato," my mother tried to explain.

The waiter tried extremely hard not to laugh. If the waiter has a blog, this story is on it. In fact, this story needs to be on Waiter Rant. My heart bleeds for the server who had to put up with this.

By this point LaShay was causing a royal scene in the restaurant and everyone was laughing at her. To make matters worse she believed there was a giant conspiracy to deprive her of beef steak and that my mother was in on it.

"Don't you tell me. A tomato is a tomato, not a beef steak. The menu said BEEF STEAK, ok? Waiter bring me the menu."

He did.

"See," she said, "It say beef steak and that's what I ordered and I want my beef steak or I'm leaving. Motherfuckers trying to rip me off giving me a plate of damned tomatoes."

Finally, Dougie managed to calm her down by ordering her an extra steak, in addition to her entree steak, so that she would shut the hell up and stop torturing the restaurant staff and embarasing my parents with her refusal to believe that she was not being cheated and that beefsteaks were a kind of tomato, an idea which was too difficult and abstract for her to grasp.

Last night my parents told me this story as we had dinner. And then they told me that Dougie had brought LaShay back to Florida with him. Dougie is from here and went out to LA with my parents, so when they returned, he too returned to South Florida. He lives with his mother here and now so does LaShay.

I'm thinking we need to set LaShay up with Brad, because they sound like quite the match and everyone has the same very bad feeling about this situation as they did when my sister introduced us to Brad.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday

I'm suffering from some serious fatigue and aggravation right now. I'm just going to be honest with y'all about this. I have been running around like some kind of maniac trying to get stuff done. Taking three classes and teaching three classes at the same time is not helping the situation. Most nights I get home after ten. I also have several assignments due and feel like my writing has been sucking.

So this past weekend I went to Millpond to see my family. Recently I came into a large amount of unexpected money, which is something that always seems to happen to me. I'm lucky like that. When I got the money I decided that the best use of part of it would be to go visit my grandmother who has been depressed since my grandfather died last June. I'm really glad I did this. Bella and I stayed with my grandmother all weekend and kept her company. We visited a pumpkin patch and ate cider doughnuts and made Halloween decorations and it was generally a perfect weekend. Except for Barack Obama. My grandmother really, really hates Barack Obama and he kept weaseling his way into every conversation and I have to tell you, it was starting to get on my last nerve. I was not there to discuss politics.

While in Millpond I got filled in on all the family gossip, which there always is. One of my cousins is getting a divorce after finding out that the whole time she was married her husband had an entire other family. Can you imagine? This one deserves its own post like my sister's story. I swear. It is just as bad.

My Uncle Bull has started a BBQ business since his no good wife left him (another story deserving of its own post), and is hauling a big, black smoker that looks like a nuclear submarine around on the back of his pickup. Uncle Bull is also a grass roots political activist and has been all over the news for his relief work that he does after natural disasters and for the injured soldiers who come home from Iraq. Now he's into BBQ. This was inevitable. A few years ago we were up there for Christmas and Uncle Bull invited us over to his house, where he had 15 cats at the time, for Christmas dinner. We expected turkey and trimmings but got ribs, potato salad and cookies and I've got to tell you, it was damned good and we didn't miss the turkey one bit. I need to call Jeff Foxworthy because I think you might be a redneck if you have BBQ for Christmas dinner. Uncle Bull though, feels very strongly about BBQ. It's a serious matter, sort of like a heart attack. I understand.

Uncle Bull's son, my cousin Beau, is a lineman and just got back from Galveston where he was following in the family tradition doing relief work. So if any of you were in the Texas area ravaged by Ike you can thank my cousin Beau for getting your power back on. Beau got a wicked case of food poisoning while he was down there because he and some friends ate a mess of unrefrigerated shrimp. They thought it was a shame to see the shrimp go to waste, so they ate it, but it had been unrefrigerated too long and they all got really sick. Luckily, Beau and friends are ok now.

Cousin/ Best Friend Bella looks freaking amazing. She lost all her weight and is skinny and glamourous and healthy as ever. I am so proud of her. Her stinking-assed cat is another story. It drew blood on me in less than an hour of my arrival.

The Red Lobster is booming as always and we had the nicest server ever and then we went to Starbucks and had the nicest barista ever in the entire world. This leads me to believe that people in the Millpond area are just nice and that the people here in South Forida are all fucking assholes. Here the baristas roll their eyes at me when I order a solo and can't even so much as wish me a nice day. Up there they all seemed generally interested in my caffeinated well-being.

And oh I have saved the piece de resistance for last, dear readers.

My parents are on their way home. The bus is packed. They are on the highway heading back east. They should arrive this weekend which means that I must move back to my apartment at once. That has me stressed out too. I brought a lot of stuff over to my parents' house while they were gone and I have to get my place all back in order. I'm glad to go back though. I like my own residence ultimately, in spite of its lack of grill and big bathtub. I'm anxious to see my parents though and I guarantee you, within hours of their return the house will be full of lunatics again. Husband and I are taking bets on how long it will take. I wonder if Dougie will move in with them here. He's coming back with them, but he's flying. I guess the bus was too packed.

Also Aunt Kiki keeps drunk dialing me and talking incoherent nonsense. Last week she told me she had gotten a job as a hostess in a seafood restaurant and this week she said she quit, although one of her daughters is apparently spreading rumors that Aunt Kiki got fired for being drunk, which would not surprise me a whit.

Who the hell knows.

But that's all the news for now. Once I get settled down more I'll post some pictures of my trip for you and we'll get back into some serious story telling. Story telling as serious as BBQ. Serious as a heart attack.
Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm Back!


I got in late last night and have many things to catch up on before I can write about my trip. Everything went well, I am safe and happy and had a beautiful Fall weekend. I'll tell you all about it later. Until then, enjoy this picture of fallen maple leaves and have a happy Monday.
Thursday, October 16, 2008

In Flight

I must also mention that I'm on my way to Millpond for a much needed, long weekend where my relatives will accuse me of being brainwashed by Far Left University Liberals and feed me canned vegetables doused in cream of mushroom soup. I'm very excited, but I do have to fly, which always scares the crap out of me. It's ok though. I have Red Lobster to look forward to once I get there.

I'll only have Internet until tomorrow morning when we leave Bella's house to visit Mommom Jewel. So I probably won't be able to write anything over the weekend. I'll be able to check email and comments from my iphone though. Pray I have a safe, uneventful flight there and back. Lots of love and thanks for all the recent traffic, comments and support.

Scandal Follows Me, I Swear

About a year and a half ago, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Congressman Tim Mahoney at Charlie Palmer's in Washington, DC. We had a lovely evening, talked about all sorts of deep, pressing political issues, including the need for morals, standards, ethics and integrity in politicians. I found Mr. Mahoney to be a pretty nice guy who was very well spoken and the lobster was absolutely fantastic. The next day the Congressman had one of his staffers (not that one!) give Husband and me a tour of the Capitol and tickets to see the House of Representatives in session. It was an incredible and inspiring experience and I am grateful. But really now. Given my track record thus far, doesn't it just freaking figure that the politician I met is now embroiled in a sex scandal? I mean honestly scandal just seems to erupt wherever I go and have been, and the guy won Foley's seat after Foley sent dirty text messages to underage pages! Wouldn't you think that that fact alone would make you able to keep it in your pants? How stupid can you be? How worth it was it for a quick thrill with some skanky looking woman who was obviously trying to set you up? Congressman Mahoney, you disappoint me and I'm glad I don't live in the 16th district. But otherwise, I love this picture. Mostly I like the crazy dude in the background who's interfering with the picture. And now you all know what my hair looks like too. And, thanks again for the nice tour.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What Happened to My Sister - Part 8

Brad has been reading this story. I think he doesn't realize that I can see him or his IP address or how many times he visits or how long he stays. I don't mind that he reads because I am only telling the truth. Perhaps he gets off on the attention, no matter how negative it is. Maybe he really loved my sister in his own perverse way and is reading for updates on how she's doing. I'm not writing this story to bring attention to him though. I said that in the beginning. I'm writing it so that maybe some of you can learn from it and I'm writing it in a way to bring closure to it. By writing it I'm ending the story for myself. What my sister suffered was unspeakable, but she wasn't the only one who suffered. My mother did. I did. My husband did. It's unbearably painful to watch a loved one be abused. So Brad, you didn't just hurt her. You hurt our entire family with your actions because we love her and want the best for her. We wanted your lies to be true as much as she did because we knew that's what would make her happy. You broke our hearts too and you should realize that when you steal from someone and use someone and destroy someone's trust as you did to my sister, you do the same thing to all the people who truly love and care about her. You know, "Brad", about my health issues. I told you intimate details about my illness and I want you to know that because of the stress you put our family through that you caused me to have a severe flare up that I am still suffering through. So think about that too. The stress that you caused us, harmed me physically. You may as well have just punched me in the face.

But on with the fucking story.

Brad was running through traffic. We called 911 from our car, but Brad started running for the police station. I'd like to say that we ran him over, but we didn't of course. We did follow him to the police station where Sister turned him in. Luckily it was the tiny, Island police station where there are only about five cops and they all knew the whole situation already. They detained Brad while Sister, Husband and I waited. It was the hottest day and we were outside most of the time. I thought I was going to have a heat stroke. Sister was just numb. It was scary to see her like that - humiliated, beat down, broken.

"I was on to you the entire time," I said to Brad, but as I didn't want to get arrested myself I controlled my temper.

"Don't even," Sister said, "He's not worth it."

Brad spent a long time on his cell phone. We had to wait for the detective to arrive and she was at a kid's birthday party or something.

Finally he was arrested and we left. Sister stayed and I'm not clear on the details. I think they showed her the video tape and there his ass was, using her card that he had stolen out of her purse when she never suspected it. She had to go to work.

Sister worked for two days at the Bubblegum Kittikat and left because Harold, the old man, came in and begged her not to work there. He cried at having to see her like that and he lent her money so that she could pay her bills without having to work at a strip club where she was clearly ashamed and unhappy. After that she scored a better job at an Italian restaurant.

Brad was taken to jail. His parents, I assume, bailed him out and we confirmed a few days later that he was back home with them up North. A round of phone calls followed. His mother begged Sister to drop the charges and offered to pay her back. We confirmed lie after lie after lie and no one could understand what on earth had happened. HIs family swore he had been normal until he met my sister. I don't believe this. I am guessing that he has a really nice family who can't conceive of their son committing such monstrosities. They seemed to me to be in denial and they seemed like they may have been enabling Brad his whole life.

The thing is, Brad lied when there was no reason to lie. Nothing he did made much sense and he didn't get a fortune of money from my sister. She was a student and a bartender for God's sakes. Brad even lied when he knew he would obviously be caught. He said his brother would explain everything, but his brother told the truth. Surely he must have known his brother would expose him, right? None of it has any logic.

I try to approach this with compassion but it's hard and I'm no Dalai Lama. Most of the time I call Brad names and feel nothing but disgust, anger and contempt. The best version of me though, says that Brad was mentally ill. Perhaps he had addiction issues. Maybe he had made some mistakes and felt badly about himself. Maybe he started with a little lie and it felt good and he kept on until he couldn't stop, getting higher and higher off his own lies. Maybe down here he felt like he could escape, like he could be anybody, a big shot, someone who mattered, when back home he was a 33 year old loser living with his parents with no future, no education, no job and no accomplishments to be proud of. The sad part is, my sister didn't need any of that. If he had come to her with honesty, to all of us really, and said that he had made some mistakes in the past and wanted to just start fresh down here, from scratch and make a new life for himself, we all would have totally understood and been fine with it. The worst part is, he didn't need to lie to us. It seems like most of all he needed to lie to himself.

Soon, the case was settled. I won't get into the details. I don't necessarily agree with what happened, but in the end Sister got her money back. Brad is free and living at home with his parents. I hope he got a job and is getting therapy so that he too can get his life back on track and maybe one day he can become the person he lied about being.

Sister got a new apartment that is nicer than her last one and cheaper. She has two new jobs now and is doing well. Last week a hot guy took her on a motorcycle ride and she has several dates lined up. She works with a smoking bartender from New Zealand too, so her possibilities are endless. She looks beautiful, has a new haircut and is set to graduate in December. After, she wants to go to the police academy because she has decided that she wants to be a detective like the one who handled her case. So maybe something good will come out of this whole thing.

Best of all, she found a new home for that stinking, damned guinea pig Brad "gave" her for her birthday.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Happened to My Sister - Part 7

My sister was finally wising up it seemed. Finally. Someone yesterday commented that my sister must have a heart of gold. I don't know if she does or not, but at the time all this was happening I was beginning to wonder if she had a brain of rock. So the day she called and said she had blown up on Brad, becoming suspicious of him and actually, for once, questioning him about some of his crazy stories, I was relieved. Thank God, I thought.

Well it was all for naught because the next day she called me.

"Everything's fine," she said.

"How? How is everything fine? Did the real esate agent find the check? Did the money come to pay for your school? Did they catch someone else stealing your money with your ATM card and the pin number? How is it fine?" I asked.

She said she confronted him about the background check information - that he didn't own the houses he claimed and the one he lived in belonged to his mom. He said sometimes things didn't show up on property tax records. And he did have a common name. Yes, the house was in his mother's name. His parents had given him the house and he hadn't filed the quit claim deed yet to change it into his name. The arrests - well he had a few traffic citations and he had a really common name. This part is true of course. I changed his name to Brad. His real name is so common that it would be nearly impossible to google or anything. I did the background search because I knew his birthday, middle name and his hometown. That narrowed it down a lot. I also knew his mother's name from hearing my sister say it.

The night before, after Sister confronted him with her suspicions, he left and went to his cousin's house. Remember, he had a cousin down here. The first time he came to South Florida when he met my sister he had been down here visiting that cousin. So when he got upset and didn't want to be confronted, he stormed out and went to the cousin's house. Several hours later Sister went over there and he told her how hurt he was and how disgusted he was at her accusations. How could she treat him like that? He then proceeded to show her all kinds of bank statements, credit card statements and a Merril Lynch statement proving how rich he really was.

But wait. Wait a second. Credit card statements?? The first day I met him he said he didn't have any credit cards, right??? Hmmm.

"He has a lot of money," Sister said, "It's all true. He showed me everything."

And then they went home and everything was perfect and he explained to her that he had to keep things he did on the down low. You see, back in college many years ago he had been a big time drug dealer - pot, coke, pills, ecstacy. He was the biggest dealer in the state. Coincidentally he claimed to have gone to the exact same college at the exact same time as my husband. It is a very well known, and very prestigious school. When husband questioned him on specifics - teachers, local hang outs, school geography, etc. He couldn't answer a single question. Husband then made up the name of a teacher and Brad was all like - yeah, yeah I think I had that guy. Mmm Hmm. Brad went on that he had been this huge drug dealer in college and that he had literally made millions of dollars which he had to hide. Since most of the money was hidden, he had to very slowly invest it over the years through his parents' names. Sometimes it took him a long time to get the money out of hiding.

This satisfied my sister. It wouldn't satisfy me. I wouldn't want to be with someone who had made millions selling drugs in college. Some people don't care about that, but it would bother me.

After this blew over Brad kept on with his whole moving down here to start this wood business nonsense and he refocused himself on blaming the real estate agent for losing his check. It was time for my sister to pay her tuition as well. If she didn't, she would have to withdraw from classes. She had no money because her accounts had been cleaned out, so she was living day to day off her tips.

Then she got fired. I can't give an exact reason because I don't know it and it has been a small matter of contention. I don't know if I will ever know the real reason why she got fired. I've heard a few different accounts of what happened. One version is that her on-the-house tab was too high. She was accused of giving away too many free drinks. Someone else told me it was because she was drinking at work but she says this is a flat-out lie. Another possibility is that her boss was ticked at her for bringing negative attention to the business with all the detectives and everyone investigating all the employees. Her case made everyone paranoid and suspicious and was bringing bad energy to the place. So who knows. Maybe Brad did something that got her fired. Who knows. In any case, she was penniless and jobless.

But Brad was going to save her and fix everything.

Brad was such a great guy. You see, for a few years my sister had been taking care of this old man Harold who was a widower of about 80 years. Harold was in poor health and could barely walk and he had been a regular at her bar after his wife died. She ran errands for him, drove him places and fed him a lot of the time. Brad had taken an immediate liking to the old man and to ease my sister's stress, Brad had started taking care of Harold for her. He spent hours with Harold. He doted on him and played cards with him, drank beers with him and watched hours of Matlock with him.

You know where this is going don't you? Yes, Harold was a rich old man. Did I neglect to mention that?

Harold thought he was losing his mind. He kept thinking he had more cash than he actually did. He could have sworn he took four hundred dollars out of the bank, but he only had two in his wallet. He feared he was getting senile.

Sister got suspicious again. Then, all at once, as it so often happens, everything blew up in one gigantic bunker blaster style explosion. My sister's life was carpet-bombed.

On a Thursday evening Shirley the real estate agent called my sister with bad news.

"I need you to know this sweetie," Shirley had said, "But every piece of paper work Brad gave us showing eligibility, ownership of other homes, bank statements and mortgage pre-qualifications - all of that paperwork was forged. You need to know this. He's been lying to all of us honey and you need to know that if you're going to be with this guy."

My sister hung up and confronted Brad.

He said it was all a lie. His brother was the mortgage guy who had pre-qualified him. He had shown her his bank statements himself. How could he forge that? How could she not trust him?

Then, in what was truly bizarre timing and I swear this is not contrived, the detective on her case called too. They had finally gotten the tapes of the thief using her card at Publix and Walgreens and wanted her to come the next day to see if she could identify the person.

"Now you'll see it wasn't me," Brad said, "And it's late so in the morning you'll call my brother and we'll clear this all up and he'll tell you that he pre-qualified me and that I have plenty of money."

First thing Friday morning Sister called Brad's brother up North and the brother threw Brad under the short bus he belonged on.

"I never qualified him for anything," the brother said, "There's no way. He has no credit, never owned anything and has no job. He forged the paperwork."

Brad's brother proceeded to tell her that nothing Brad told her had been true. Some of it had been loosely true. He had gone to that college briefly but had failed out. He never owned property and lived with their parents. He had worked at a lumber yard as some sort of manual laborer but he had been fired.

Sister took all of Brad's things that had collected in her apartment and threw them out the front door and kicked him out. She said he said nothing and was completely blank with a disturbing, flat affect. He walked away on foot.

Then she called me and we spent the day trying to piece everything together.

She called his work. They confirmed that he had been a laborer and had been fired. He never owned anything, no they were not going to open a branch down here for him so he could move and his job had never involved travel at all, much less international travel. In addition, since he didn't have a driver's license, thanks to all his DUIs, someone had to drop him off and pick him up to work every day. So this guy who had no license had been driving Sister's car all along. Great.

Then she called his mother who essentially blamed her and said that Brad had been normal until he met her and all of her rich girl demands had caused him to go off the deep end and lose touch with reality. He had even stolen money from his parents to take her on all those trips she wanted to go on.

"What trips?" Sister said, "We went to Mexico but nowhere else."

Brad had been telling his family that he was going to the Islands, Bermuda, Jamaica and the Caymans every weekend. They had never gone anywhere. And my Sister isn't rich and would never make material demands on a boyfriend.

She asked his mother about everything and everything was a lie. Perhaps the most disturbing lie he told was the story about punching the kid. It had never happened. He had never been a gym teacher. He hadn't finished college so there was no way he could have been a gym teacher. He had never punched a kid at a game and he had never been banned from teaching. This makes the story even more terrifying to me. Is anyone a psychologist? Could someone even attempt to analyze this? Why would someone lie about having done something horrible? It makes no sense. Maybe he was trying to be intimidating. I don't know. It's a degree of fucked-up-ness that I can't wrap my brain around. I just can't.

But now Brad was wandering the streets and we didn't know where he was. Sister had no job, no money and no boyfriend. We spent the day looking for a job for her and a friend had called and said they had a space for a cocktail waittress at the Bubblegum Kittikat if she wanted to make some fast money. Because she was desperate, and I know because I've been in the same position, she slipped on the slutty corset, clipped on the garters, buckled the lucite heels and went to work in tears at the strip club where I too had worked when I was in about the same situation as she was.

But before that we told Harold what had happened because we figured Brad might run to him to steal more money. Sister also called his cousin and told him everything.

Saturday morning Brad called and Sister lured him back over. They needed to talk, she said. Then she called me and told me where she was and Husband I drove to where we could safely watch them talking in the car.

They talked for entirely too long and then my sister called me and said to follow her because she was driving him to the police station. He had confessed to stealing her money. He had guessed all her passwords because they were easy, personal information. Lesson here - don't use your pet's name, your birthday or anything obvious for your password.

We started off behind my sister's car and got stopped in traffic at a red light. All of a sudden Brad jumped out of the car and started running through the cars down A1A...
Monday, October 13, 2008

What Happened to My Sister - Part 6

Well the shit didn't go down just yet. As soon as I got to my aunt and uncle's house I was a nervous wreck. As if my grandfather's funeral wasn't enough, now I had to deal with this and Iknew it was Brad. I knew it. That also made me fear he had somehow gotten into my account. I called Husband and told him and he agreed that it was, indeed Brad. We checked out accounts. Everything was fine. Right then and there Husband started securing our belongings and our house.

Then I started putting things together. A couple months earlier, during the winter, my jewelry box had been stolen right off my dresser. It was a tiny, round box and I didn't notice it was gone right off. One day I went to get my necklace out of it and then it was gone. There wasn't much in it, but what was in it was important to me. There was a pair of diamond earrings that I cherished. They were 1 carat each and my parents gave them to me. They were beautiful. There was also a pearl bracelet with a jade bead that I had bought for myself. It was tiny and probably not worth a lot, but I thought it was beautiful. Then there was my wedding necklace which a thief would think was a score. Husband gave me this beautiful necklace, sending it up with a friend while I was getting ready for our ceremony, so that I could wear it with my dress. This necklace was so beautiful that I have no words. The thing is, it looks like diamonds, big diamonds, but it's actually swarovski crystals which I like better because they are more sparkly and I would have killed Husband had he wasted money on real diamonds that big. Most people though, assumed the necklace was diamond and I wore it all the time, yes, around Brad.

Sister had the key to my apartment. Brad could have slipped it off her key ring without her noticing, then taken her car to my apartment when he knew we were at work and lifted the little box right off my dresser. It was the perfect crime. Not even noticable.

So Husband took all sorts of security measures that I won't go into on here, and then told my parents who also agreed that Brad had stolen Sister's money. They said that Brad was under no circumstances allowed into Casa Dei Sogni and that was that. He wasn't trustworthy.

Meanwhile, Brad was acting the hero during Sister's time of crisis. He promised her money - it just had to go through the book keeper and be wired down and there were some glitches at the bank but it was coming. They were still getting a house. He would pay for her summer tuition so she didn't need to drop out of school. She had nothing at all to worry about and if caught the SOB who took her money....

Brad thought it was her manager at work. He was a Muslim. Part of a terrorist cell probably. Meanwhile this guy was one of my favorite people ever. He was so kind and so honorable that he would never do something so horrible. It disgusted me that Brad would make a racist, ignorant accusation against such a good person. Then Brad blamed the Haitians in the kitchen. Then he said he heard there was a black guy that had been suspected of ID theft at the restaurant across the street. He was always blaming and his blame was always directed at people of other races. What a pig.

Next Brad blamed Sister's friends and had her so paranoid that she didn't know who to trust.

Of course I came right out and tried to politely tell her I thought it was him. At first she didn't want to hear about it. There were detectives working on the case. It was grand theft and ID theft and credit card fraud, so it was a big deal. They traced the ATM withdrawals to a machine at her work, one down the street from her apartment and a couple at Walgreens and Publix. Then they said someone had used her password and gotten into her online banking to transfer money from checking to savings.

At the same time Brad decided that he was opening a branch of the wood business up down here. The other owner of the company was giving him hundreds of thousands of dollars to get started down here so that Brad could move here to be with Sister and still keep his job. Who does that?? Who would start a wood company that sells to construction companies in the biggest construction bust in the country? You'd have to be an absolute idiot. The real estate and construction market down here is practically dead and everyone is in foreclosure. There is pretty much zero new construction right now. I smelled bullshit. But no, Brad was buying a warehouse and a special flat bed truck and everything.

But wait, they wouldn't let him take the truck off the lot and there were problems. I don't know what kind. Problems. He'd have the truck soon and then he'd strart importing wood.

Meanwhile Shirely the real estate agent was pestering them about the deposit on that fancy house they were buying. She said Brad hadn't given them the check. Brad said he had and that they had lost it. They looked everywhere and couldn't find it. Brad was irate. How could those idiots lose his deposit check? He was going to sue them if the deal fell through because of their incompetence. And don't even get him started on what he was going to do to the asshole who stole Sister's money.

Sister called me very upset one day. Brad hadn't given her the money for school that he promised. I finally came clean about the background check I had done and she was more upset.

"Don't trust this guy," I told her.

She said she had blown up on him and accused him. She had hurt his feelings so much that he stormed out and she didn't know where he was. But he called while she was on the line with me and had to go. She said she felt terribly that she had been so mean to him.

"Be careful," I warned.

But the next day she called and Brad had explained everything.....

(Yes there's more)

Friday, October 10, 2008

What Happened to My Sister - Part 5

Easter came right after my sister's birthday. Brad was going to fly her up to have Easter with his family. He described a lavish celebration with egg hunts on lawns, brunches and bunnies. I was a little ticked because I wanted my sister to have Easter with us. We don't do a lot to celebrate but by this point I hated everything about this guy and I wanted her home just to spite him. My wish came true because miraculously he decided to (surprise surprise) stay here even longer.

Sister had been telling me how much she wanted to live up where Brad lived in New England. She wanted to get out of here, live somewhere new and experience a different lifestyle. He had so many houses, there'd be plenty of room for her in one of them. He told her as soon as he was done building his parents' new house that she could move in and they'd remodel the house he lived in now to her standards. She started looking for information on jobs up there and I could tell she was already daydreaming about lobster rolls and pahking her cah in Hahvahd yahd. The problem was - my sister was acting like a relationship retahd.

Suddenly Brad reversed things on her. He wanted to move here. He was the one who wanted a change. She didn't want to live in New England and deal with those slushy winters did she? Of course she didn't. No, what he really wanted was to live down here in the tropics. He was going to buy her a house and they would live in it together and as soon as they moved in, he'd get her two golden retriever puppies. They'd get married and she wouldn't have to work. Maybe they'd have a kid. Her perfect life, the one she's always dreamed of, was right around the corner.

They began to look for houses. One of Sister's regulars was a real estate agent. Her name was Shirley and was an older woman with an established career. Shirley took them on a serious house hunt and Brad said he wanted to look at homes that were $600,000 and up. They even looked at beachfront homes over a million dollars and he said these were in his price range too as long as he could sell his Connecticut home, the one that he had bought for his ex-fiancee. Sister was in her glory. They spent all of their free time looking at gorgeous, expensive and very large houses and she was going to have one. She couldn't believe her luck. She had won the boyfriend lottery here. She was decorating every room in her mind and imagining having us all over for big BBQs where we would all play with the puppies she was going to get.

Finally they found a house that she wanted. It was yellow, four bedrooms and on the water with a big yard where she could plant flowers. They put in an offer and Brad gave Shirley the paperwork saying that he was preapproved for a mortgage.

That weekend, Sister came home from work and found Brad on her computer. Before he could close the screen she saw that he was online looking for engagement rings. On the monitor she saw her dream ring - a two carat, emerald cut solitaire. He quickly clicked out and she pretended she hadn't seen a thing. Inside she thrilled. How much luckier could she possibly get?

The next week my grandfather died and the week after that I rushed to Millpond. Immediately after the funeral, on what was already a tremendously difficult day I got in Bella's car to leave and found that I had several missed calls from my sister. I called her back from the church parking lot.

"I'm broke," she said.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Someone cleaned out my entire bank account, checking and savings. All of it's gone," she said.

And right then and there I immediately knew it was Brad.

Tomorrow I'll tell you what happened next because the shit was about to go down.
Thursday, October 09, 2008

What Happened to My Sister - Part 4

When sister arrived home a week later I was so relieved that she wasn't dead that I nearly killed her myself. I was livid. I couldn't believe she had done something so stupid and so reckless and could not, for the life of her, see that what she had done was a very bad idea.

For the record, and I shouldn't have to tell you this, whenever you go on a trip you should leave all important information like flights, hotels and oh, I don't know, CORRECT DESTINATIONS, with your family members. When you travel you should purchase a calling card just in case. You should find phone numbers of the places you're staying and you should call your family to let them know you arrived safely even if it's for less than 30 seconds.

If you want to surprise someone with a trip that's ok, but tell their family you're whisking them away and then give them all pertinent information.

I believe strongly that Brad did this on purpose. I think he did it as a passive aggressive act of defiance and God knows what my sister told him about how awful and oppressive and bossy our family was already. I also think that his constant plan changing was an assertion of control. By keeping my sister confused he was controlling and manipulating her. He was taking away her choice of where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do. I would have been furious if someone made me think I was going to Asia and then when we got to the airport I found out we were going to Honduras and then - No, wait a minute, we're going to Mexico actually. It is so sick and twisted that I can't believe she did it. Except I can believe it because she did. I think she went along with it because he took her power of choice away. Because he simply showed up at 2am and they took a cab to the airport and he had the tickets and there they were. She felt like she had no choice. Like he would be upset if she said she wasn't going. He paid for the tickets. She should be spontaneous and up for anything right? He might think she was an idiot or neurotic like her sister if she refused to go. So she went. I wonder how many girls went through the same line of thinking and ended up dead.

But she didn't end up dead. They went to a resort in Mexico for almost a week and had a good time. Except when they got to the rental car office he couldn't believe he did this, but he left his license at home, so, could she get the rental car? And some money he had wired hadn't made it to his account yet, so could she pay for the resort and activities? He'd pay her back as soon as they got back to the States. But they had a good time.

When they got back they had Hell to pay from the family for this. I lit into both of them and so did my parents.

Brad stayed here forever. It was the same story of course. He worked from here, then he had to go back for a meeting, then the meeting was canceled. One time my sister called me from the car, on the way to the airport. Later that night she called me again to tell me that Brad had made her turn the car around, that he couldn't leave. I think in some way she must have liked this. Maybe he made her feel like she was so special to him that he couldn't leave her side, that he was so in love with her that he could rearrange his life and career for her. I don't know, but what I do know is that his constantly changing plans became both a huge joke with our family and a source of continuing suspicion. How could this guy, who claimed to have this big job, take so much time off? It just doesn't work like that and I kept asking her and kept pestering her and she just kept saying that it was because he owned the company.

Except I know plenty of people who own companies and parts of companies and you know what, they have to work even harder. It's more work, not less.

Then Brad disappeared. He really did have to go on a big business trip to Asia. But first he was going to San Francisco, then he was going to Oregon, Washington and Vancouver. Then he was flying to the Phillippines and then on to Malaysia. He would be gone for three weeks or so.

I didn't buy it. Sister, of course did. And I really hope I'm not making my sister look like too much of a dumb ass here. I don't think she's stupid. I think she knew all along, but didn't want to know. She wanted to create her own reality because she was lonely and wanted more than anything in the world, a great guy who had so much going for him, who owned houses and had a good career and who would travel the world with her. We all want that. I can't blame her for wanting a good guy. The problem was that she wanted it so much that she lost her good sense in order to believe it. In a way, she conned herself just as much as Brad conned her.

Brad called from Asia. Supposedly he had an international cell phone. Something was eating at my gut though. I didn't believe this SOB was anywhere. I don't know why. I just had a feeling that wouldn't go away.

Husband has this friend who really does travel the world. He's into extreme mountain climbing, but that's another story. This friend, who is a reader (HI!!), has a real international cell phone and sometimes when Husband calls him on it and he's in another country, it rings differently. It kind of double rings and beeps. That's how we know when the friend is away. So I asked sister about this, if Brad's phone did the same thing. She didn't know because he had said not to call him. He could only call her. He was so busy.

Three weeks later Brad came back from his lengthy sojourn around "Asia" and the Pacific Northwest (of his own ass). Guess what he did? Yeah. He showed up on her doorstep again. Did he have presents from Asia? Nope. He was too busy working.

I decided to bone up on all the places he went. I discovered that while he was supposedly in the Phillippines there had been a typhoon. Remember when the ferry sank last Spring? This is when it was.

The next time I saw Brad I grilled him like a prosecutor. I should have gone to law school, I swear. I asked him about everything - the weather, what he ate, the language, did he have pictures (he forgot the camera), who did he meet with, what kind of wood he was importing. I asked him everything. All he could give were vague, evasive answers and I think he caught on to what I was doing and got the hell away from me. He knew that I was on to him all along and he tried to keep my sister away from me as much as possible. The sad thing is that she thought I was being a bitch.

I decided to conduct a little background search on this asshole. I had to pay for it, but it wasn't a big deal. I discovered that he owned zero homes. The house he lived in was owned by his mother and had been for years. He had, in fact, never owned property. He also had been arrested several times, although in all fairness some of them may have been traffic citations. I'm not sure because the report wasn't very detailed. Others were more serious. There were several court appearances, some missed.

I decided to sit on the information for a while because my relationship with my sister was getting strained.

Her birthday came. He bought her a guinea pig. This is a terrible gift. His birthday was the same week and she took him skydiving. My parents took us all out to a fancy dinner because it was Husband's birthday too. Sister and Husband have the same birthday.

Sister worked on her actual birthday. It was always a big tip day for her because her entourage of regulars knew it was her birthday and her shift turned into one huge celebration where they threw money at her. The year before she had made almost a thousand dollars. Her tip jar was overflowing. Brad was buying her shot after shot. When she finally finished work around four in the morning, she went to count up her tips and discovered that most of her tip money was gone. Someone had stolen it when she wasn't looking.

More tomorrow...
Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What Happened to My Sister - Part 3

So my sister wanted me to add in to yesterday's post that while she was up North visiting Brad that he took her to a swanky beach front home in a well known, expensive New England seaside town and actually took her into a house telling her it was his beach house that he owned. Later he actually told us he was going to take us all there to stay this past August and that we could have clam bakes on the beach, which would have been really fun HAD IT BEEN TRUE. We have never figured out whose house it was or how he got into it. But let's get back to the story. Shall we?

Sister came back from her weekend totally and completely in love. She had a wonderful time, loved the Boston area and was seriously considering moving up once she graduated in a few months. Brad was the one for her.

Once she got home he called and called and wrote her long emails and had flowers delivered to her doorstep. And then he himself showed up on her doorstep too. But it was Valentines week, so that was to be expected, wasn't it?

The same thing happened. He kept saying he had meetings and he had to leave and then he kept changing his plans and staying longer and longer and not appearing to do any actual work. But he kept taking her out. They spent a weekend in Key West and he kept making plans for all kinds of elaborate trips that they were going to go on.

Spring break was coming up and Brad decided that since he had to go to Asia on an important business trip that he should take Sister with him. He'd pay for all of it and they'd go to Malaysia and stay in a five star resort where he'd been. He said it was so incredible that it would blow her mind. She was over the moon about this. She paid a huge fee to get a quick passport and bought all kinds of things for the trip, including a portable dvd player for the 20 hour plane ride. She couldn't wait. Sister hasn't been able to travel a lot, but she has always really wanted to see the world and she has a fearless sense of adventure. She's one of those people who are up for anything at anytime. Unlike me. I need years of planning.

Finally the day of the trip came. She was leaving for Malaysia on a Saturday morning and returning the following Monday. Brad emailed her pictures of the resort and it looked beautiful. I saw the emails. Friday night he also emailed her an intinerary for her flights which I also saw. I wanted a copy so that I would know where she was if something happened.

She was to leave Saturday and fly to LA where they were going to meet and then catch the flight to Malay or Kuala Lumpur or wherever the hell he said they were going. The intinerary ended in LA.

The next morning she called me around noon.

"Are you in LA on your layover? You must be so excited," I said.

"Umm. No. The trip has been delayed. Brad had meetings in Boston. He couldn't miss them, so the trip is postponed until Tuesday."

"You're going to Asia for less than a week? Because you'll get there like Wednesday and then you have to leave on Sunday and the jet lag is enormous and the flights are endless. Does that make sense?"

"Well he had to work. There wasn't anything he could do about it,"she said.

So Monday night he sent a new itinerary, which I also saw. This time she was leaving here, flying to Charlotte and then going on from Charlotte to Los Angeles. She arranged to meet my Dad during her layover and gave him all the information. We made sure she had a ride to the airport at five in the morning and hoped for the best. She promised to call from Charlotte.

She called me around eleven in the morning. She was supposed to be in Charlotte earlier than that and LA later than that. I was confused.

"Were you delayed?" I asked.

"No, we had a change of plans."

"Where are you?" I asked, because she was clearly in an airport from the background noise.

"Houston."

"Where are you going? What's going on? Is everything ok?"

"Umm, We're going to Hondurus. Tulum, Honduras."

"WHAT??"

"Brad showed up on my doorstep at 2 in the morning and we took a cab to the airport and we went to a different airline and I asked if he made a mistake and he was like, no, we're not going to Malaysia. Surprise, we're going to Honduras!"

"WHATTTTTTT??????????? You're going where? I need flight info! Where are you staying. What's the name of the hotel?"

"I don't know! It's a surprise. I don't know. I need to go. I have to go. They're boarding the plane."

"What plane??"

"To Cancun."

"Cancun? That's Mexico!"

"I know. We're driving to Honduras. I don't know. I HAVE TO GO!"

The line went dead. I begin to seriously freak out. I considered calling the police. I didn't know what to do. I tried to decide if she was sending me a secret coded message. Was she in trouble? All I could think about was Natalee Holloway disappearing in Aruba. My sister was somewhere in Central America on a flight on a mysterious airline, going to God knows where in Honduras and I would have no way to reach her at all.

"She said Tulum," I told Husband and we looked it up.

There is no Tulum in Honduras. It's in Mexico. So why did she say Honduras? Why did he tell her they were going to Honduras? The guy had a history of violence, was clearly shady and now he had taken my sister away without any of her family knowing where she was.

To say the entire family freaked out was un understatement.

We didn't hear from her. We couldn't reach her. We wondered if she was taken against her will, if she even knew where she was. I don't think we've ever been more worried.

There is still more to come...
Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What Happened to My Sister - Part 2

This section will be short because I have to go to school soon, but I wanted to give you something today.

When we got back from LA in the beginning of January, Brad was staying at my sister's apartment. They were wildly in love. This was "the one", she thought. He was taking her out, talking about taking her to Hawaii and Asia, on ski trips, and they were planning an elaborate road trip around the country, stopping in Colorado where Brad went to college and then on to Ohio to see Sister's brother. Never had someone been so attentive, so romantic and so doting on her. She was in heaven.

My suspicions continued. By then, Brad had been staying with Sister for a couple weeks. He had been here in Florida for another week or so a month earlier. He lived up in the Boston area, so I was curious as to how he could just leave his life and spend so much time away because he told us, in great detail, that he was part owner and did sales for a wood importing company. He traveled all over the Pacific Northwest, Asia and South America seeking out the finest woods, which he imported to cabinet makers and construction companies. He said he traveled all the time and the company was booming and he was doing great.

I never saw him doing any work, but Sister assured me that she had to leave the apartment so he could conduct conference calls with clients and that he was always on her computer doing "work."

Brad was a hard working, responsible guy. He was dedicated to his job and to his family back in New England. He had siblings with children and took care of his aging parents. He had bought them a home. He owned three houses, by the way and was building another grand, ocean front home for the parents. One of the houses, which was in Connecticut, he was trying to sell (it was paid off so he'd get all the cash from the sale) was being sold because he had bought it with his ex-fiancee. The ex-fiancee had been a horrible woman who cheated on him after he did so many wonderful things for her, just like he was doing for Sister. He also had an aging golden retriever.

I just couldn't understand how he could be away for so long when he had so much going on. The dog alone would worry me, but he said friends were watching it and since he was part owner of the company he could be away.

Still, it bugged me. Sister kept telling me that Brad had to go home on certain dates. The dates would come and Brad would supposedly change his flight and stay longer. It kept happening. He kept being here when he was supposed to leave.

He finally did leave towards the end of January, but bought Sister a ticket to come visit up there the following weekend. He was going to take her on a lavish ski trip in Vermont. She was beyond excited to go up North.

When she got to the airport she had a first class upgrade on her ticket. He had asked her all of her sizes and bought her a winter coat, hat, scarf, gloves, and everything and had it waiting. But he didn't pick her up in the Escalade he told her he drove. He picked her up in the airport shuttle, which did not drive them to the ski resort. They went to downtown Boston and were dropped off. They did some sight-seeing and went to a hotel where she called me and told me of the change of plans. I was filled with a terrible dread. I just didn't trust this guy. I knew something was very wrong. The way he constantly changed plans to keep her confused and never knowing what was going to happen irked me. She said she liked not having to think about it and she liked the excitement and surprise. Brad wasn't boring.

She made it home alive a few days later. They had taken the commuter train back to where Brad lived. I don't know why he decided they should cancel the ski trip, but they did. They did go tubing on a hill one day, if that counts. He took her to a couple dinners and for drinks. Lots of drinks were involved in this relationship and lookig back I think that perhaps Brad had a drinking problem OR that he was trying to keep my sister drunk and disoriented as often as possible because that made it easier for him to run his con.

Brad's house was strange. It was decorated like someone's parents' house. He said that the reason was because his parents were storing some of their things there before they moved into the beachfront home he was building. He even took Sister by the new home to see it being built. But Brad's house was nothing fancy at all. He said it was a family home and held a lot of memories, so he bought it from the family when they were going to sell it because he wanted to keep it in the family. He figured he was single and could just live there and it didn't matter.

Also the old Toyota was a loaner from the Cadillac dealership while they fixed his Escalade. He had thrown a fit about them giving him such a disgusting car, especially on the weekend his girlfriend was coming. What bad luck. But they wouldn't give him anything nicer. He hated it so much that he avoided driving it most of the weekend. They took cabs which was fine because they were drinking anyway.

She didn't meet any of his friends. She briefly met his mother on her last afternoon. His mother was babysitting at his sister's house, but they only stayed a minute because they were in a hurry to get to the airport.

While at his house Sister noticed that he had a State ID card on his table with his things and asked him about it.

"Oh I just use that for ID and going out. I keep my license in the car at all times," he said.

Huge Red Flag. No one does that.

The Red Flags in this section are:

Constant changing of plans
The story about the car
Not meeting his friends or family
Excessive bragging with apparently nothing to show for it
State ID card and fishy story about the license.

I think we are up to eleven red flags now.

In the next installment, there will be even more...
Sunday, October 05, 2008

What Happened to My Sister - Part 1

I'm glad so many of you enjoyed my love story last week. I enjoyed writing it and remembering everything and I liked writing it knowing that so many of you had voted to let me know that's what you wanted to hear. Second place was the terrible story of what happened to my sister last year when she got tangled up with a con man who took her for everything she had and really messed up her life. She's doing a lot better now. She should be graduating in December, she has two new, good jobs and she has a new apartment with a spectacular beach view. Things are looking up for her and she deserves her success, but at the same time I wonder how this experience will always affect her and if she will ever be able to trust again. I always felt like she had difficulty in relationships to begin with, which may be partly to blame for why this happened in the first place, but now I really worry. I want her to find love, as I did, and be with someone who is as kind, loving and honorable as my husband.

I'm going to tell you the story of what happened to her. I will try not to be too long winded, but the story is complicated and along the way we'll identify the red flags and try to learn lessons from this fiasco. Some parts of the story I experienced first hand. Others she told me. Of course this story will favor my sister and be from her point of view, although really now, I can't imagine any way this could look any better from the other side. I'm not writing this story to be vengeful or to condemn my sister's ex (if you could even call him that), although he has obviously condemned himself through his actions. We spent an entire summer trying to psychoanalyze this guy to figure out what caused him to do what he did and in the end all we could come up with was that there's just no damn logic to crazy. You can't try to apply reasoning to irrational behavior. It defies explanation.

The closest I got to an explanation came from watching (I am ashamed to admit this) Nancy freaking Grace. Lately I've become inexlicably addicted to the Casey Anthony case. It's trashy, sordid, exploitative, tragic, sickening and I shouldn't be watching it like a soap opera. It's disgusting and I know it and I get so mad and confused and sucked in whenever this girl is on TV. If you haven't heard of the case, since July there's been a missing little girl up in Orlando and it's pretty clear her mother, a 22 year old pathological liar and very troubled person, killed the child or at least neglected her to the point of an accidental death. As the case has worn on, hundreds of Casey Anthony's elaborate lies have been exposed and it's all so confusing. The girl lies when there's no reason to lie, when it doesn't make sense to lie and when there will be obvious consequences for lying. She can't seem to help herself. The first time I saw her on TV and heard about the case back in July my first thought was "Oh my God this girl is a female version of Brad." Brad was a pathological liar too.

Sister met Brad about a year ago. He came into her work. At the time she was tending bar at the Rusty Badge. He was tall, Irish and had the blue collar, New England white trash, Southside of Boston accent she loves. He had black, curly hair, green eyes and a jowly face with a nose that reminded me of an outy belly button on a fat gut. He always looked like he needed a shower and a shave. Sister thought he was funny in that rowdy, Irish pub kind of way. She's a sucker for that.

Brad was in town visiting a cousin with his friend and from what I understand my sister got friendly with him at the bar, went out with him after work and then the next night went to dinner with him at his hotel restaurant. They spent the night together and he said he was going to the Bahamas the next day and would love her to come. She said she had to go home to get a change of clothes and get her things and that she'd definitely take him up on the offer to go to the islands. My sister has always worked her ass off. She works for weeks straight doing grueling service industry work on her feet. She hadn't taken a vacation in three years and she was thrilled at the chance to go to the Bahamas. Brad said for her to go get her things and that he would call her and let her know where to meet him and that he would get her on his flight.

She waited and waited and he never called. Red Flag number one. Let's keep track of all the red flags. This is the first one. Sister just figured that well, maybe he wasn't interested in her after all. She hardly knew him anyway, so whatever.

In early December Brad reappeared at her bar. He was visiting again. She asked what happened and he a story that apparently satisfied her. I don't know what it was, but she was ok with it. She went home with him again. They had a wonderful time.

Look, if this had been me I would have told him where to go. I wouldn't have given him another chance, but she did and I know a lot of other women would have too. Women love to make excuses. Why should he have taken me, they would say. He probably felt shy since we didn't know one another. He probably didn't want to get stuck in the Bahamas with a girl he hardly knew. Maybe his friend didn't want a girl tagging along and gave him a hard time.

Maybe he never went to the Bahamas at all, is what I'm thinking now, but hindsight is 20/20 as they say.

Brad came back on a Thursday. It was the week of the Boat Parade of this past year and we were planning on having a blowout at Casa dei Sogni since my parents were away. Fallon came, Bella flew down and we had invited everyone we knew and scored a snow machine. You can read all about it in the December 07 archives should you be interested.

Friday, the day before the party, Sister and I were supposed to cook for the party the next day, but the night before Brad had reappeared and they had a good time. She called me Friday around noon and sounded, umm, tired. She said she was coming over.

My sister showed up with Brad, whom I had never met. He looked like he had been dragged around town all night by a street cleaner. And he stunk. The smell was absolutely appalling. He smelled like when you run the washer and leave the clothes in for about a week before remembering that you forgot to put them in the dryer and when you open the washer up you are just about knocked dead by the smell and the clothes have all molded.

After our introductions Brad turns to me and says something I will never forget as long as I live.

"I have the wicked shits."

"I'm sorry," I said.

"Do you have any pepto or something?"

I gave him some, but really. Do you say this to someone you don't know? I know I'm always complaining of gastrointestinal distress, but you can put it delicately. He could have said he had an upset stomach or he ate something bad or something. Who tells a total stranger he has the wicked shits for God's sakes? Who says that at all?

Still though, he wanted to go out to lunch. Trapped in a hot car with this guy and his rancid odor I nearly yakked up my breakfast. He blamed his rankness on the fact that he had supposedly just spent the week in the Bahamas. He couldn't do laundry and while over there he allegedly collected a live conch off the beach, not realizing it had an animal inside. He says he put the conch in his suitcase where it died and stunk everything up. I know this is a lie because he didn't smell like fish. A dead conch is fishy. This guy smelled like piss and dirty dish rag. He smelled like a homeless person. I also know it's a lie because a live conch is clearly a live conch. The animal part is bigger than the shell and hangs out like a big foot.

On the way to lunch he had to stop at Western Union. While in the Bahamas he told us he had his money stolen.

"Your whole wallet?" I asked, "Because don't you need id to get Western Union?"

"I don't carry a wallet," he said," I had my id on me. They broke into my hotel and stole my cash wad. I left it in the room and only took what I needed out with me."

"So don't you have credit cards?"

"No," he told me, "I don't use credit cards. I'm cash only."

"Who's wiring you the cash?" I asked.

"My book keeper."

Who the fuck has a book keeper? Ok, but who says the word book keeper? People have accountants. Offices have controllers. Book keeper is a dated term commonly used by people who don't know what they're talking about and usually by people who aren't legit. It's like Sopranos dialogue. Shady people say they have book keepers. This and the smell were red flags dos y tres.

Brad went into Publix to get his money. It took forever.

"What does this guy do?" I asked.

"He told me he's an importer," sister said.

"Of drugs?" I said.

I hate to say that I've known enough drug dealers in my life to know when something's off, but it's true. I have.

"I don't know," she said.

"Does this not concern you?" I asked.

" I just met the guy. It's not like we're getting married."

He came back with a wad of bills. I found the whole no credit card thing odd. Even at my most destitute I was still able to get one of those 35% interest ghetto cards that you have to pay off at the end of every month. Most people have credit cards even if they're just for emergencies. At least have an ATM card, right?

Brad took us to lunch and insisted on paying. Then we went back home because he still had the wicked shits. My sister had to work that night and Brad wanted to shower so there went all our plans of cooking the day before the party. I sat home by myself and watched TV.

A couple hours later I had to pee. I go into the bathroom to relieve myself and I see a peculiar pattern of spots on the floor. It almost looked like the pattern in the marble. It was not the pattern in the marble. It was poo. Brad had shit on the bathroom floor.

Recall my OCD. Germs. Bodily fluids. Poop. All these things make me feel like living permanently in a Hazmat suit. I was deeply unwell about discovering poo on the bathroom floor. I flipped out.

Husband is a saint and donned gloves and cleaned it up with bleach while I flipped out and texted my sister at work, that her new lover had shit on the bathroom floor.

Red Flag 4.

You don't poo on people's floors. How does this happen? Honestly. How? How do you manage to shit on the bathroom floor? How do you shit significantly on a bathroom floor and either not realize it or realize it and not at least wipe it up with some toilet paper? Good God. I tried, as much as my stomach would allow, to reconstruct the crime, but halfway through thinking it all out I realized I didn't need to know. It had happened. That was enough.

Saturday was the party. Things didn't go well. My sister's friends showed up and went wild. They acted inappropriately for my standards. Some people say I'm an uptight bitch. I'm a bit like Monica from Friends. On Sex and the City I might be Charlotte. But I personally would never get drunk and fall down at someone's house, nor would I pull people's pants down, throw people in someone else's pool, explore a stranger's house or crash the next door neighbor's party. I wanted my sister to control her guests in our parents' house. Husband did too. We told Sister to keep her friends in line and Brad became disturbingly aggressive with Husband, whom he had only just met that afternoon. It scared me.

We are now up to Five Red Flags. You don't date people who get aggressive with your family members when your family members are trying to protect you and someone else's home. We were extremely upset about Brad's aggression towards Husband. Sister thought Brad was being chivalrous and sticking up for her.

We got things smoothed over and the next day everyone was hung over so we grilled some burgers and cleaned up from the party. Mostly everyone was tired. Sister and Brad disappeared into the guest room for hours. Later she told me they had sex seven and eight times a day. I thought this was odd too. She always had marks and bruises all over her which made me concerned that he was getting too rough with her and she mistook it for unbridled passion. Some girls like that. I tend to be suspicious.

That night Bella and I went to Orlando for vacation. The next Friday Husband and I and Sister left for LA to spend Christmas with the family.

The whole time we were in LA Brad called Sister repeatedly. This didn't really bother me though because when Husband and I were long distance we did the same thing. That part was ok and understandable.

This part was not. Husband confided in me that the afternoon of the Boat Parade party, while setting up, that out of the blue Brad had told Husband that he had once been a high school gym teacher and basketball coach. Without Husband asking, he told him that he was banned for life from teaching because he had punched a kid in the face. The story was that he was helping this troubled kid and he did everything for the kid and during a game the kid wasn't trying. Brad said something and the kid supposedly called him a name, so Brad lost his temper and punched the kid out right there in front of the teachers, administrators, parents, other students and everyone. Because of the incident he was never allowed to teach ever again.

I was so upset after hearing this story, Red Flag 6, that I had to confront my sister and tell her. This is a total deal breaker right here. History of Inappropriate Violence. There is so much wrong about Brad's story that I don't even know where to begin. Violence period, taking the first swing, hitting a minor, hitting someone at work, losing your temper in a position like a teacher when you're supposed to be a caretaker. Don't even make me explain it any more. It's clearly a horrifying story. Because of this story I officially really disliked Brad and began to worry for my sister's literal safety.

She wasn't shocked when I told her. She already knew. He had told her the same story already.

"This didn't concern you?" I asked.

"It happened years ago, and it's not like he tried to hide it. He said he was sorry for it and regretted it. I thought he was being really honest in telling me," she said.

I don't know why women do this - make these excuses. If a guy told me this story on a date it would be an instant date ender right there. I would get up and walk out and you should too. I have zero tolerance for violence. But right.

I am judgmental.

You're god damned right I'm judgmental and look where it got me. I have a kind, loving Husband who works hard and loves me and would never harm a living soul. I have a happy, peaceful life. So call me judgmental all you like. I'm glad I am.

Sister left LA a week before we did because she had to work. Husband and I dropped her off for the red eye flight. We made sure she had a ride, since she got home at 5 in the morning. She assured us her friend a taxi driver was picking her up. I made her promise to call as soon as she got home so I'd know she was safe. I didn't get a call.

Later that morning, which was New Years Eve, she did call.

"You're never going to believe this," she said.

"What?"

When I got to the airport at 5am, Brad was there waiting for me!!! Now I don't have to spend New Years alone. It was the best surprise ever and I thought he had to be in Boston with his family! I'm so happy!" she said.

I literally got cold chills when she told me this. He said he had waited for her all night in the airport. She thought it was a romantic surprise. I thought he sounded like a stalker.

To be Continued...

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