A Serving Of Humble Pie

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These past several months have been rather eventful (read: stressful) for me. My son moved back home with me last fall and vacated the premises again in the spring. In May; I got married, attended the Indianapolis 500, went on a honeymoon and spent the entire month of June packing up to move in with my new wife who, for the past few years, has been taking care of her mother with dementia.

Over that time, I’ve interspersed comments regarding all of the above throughout this site that I considered somewhat humorous. Once I moved in with said mother-in-law, I felt compelled to share some of the stories here.

I tend to deal with pressure-filled moments with sarcastic humor. I’m one of those unlikeable people that tends to tell jokes at funeral home visitations. It’s simply how I deal with stress, which probably says a lot about my level of maturity.

Bloggers walk a fine line. We are not journalists. We all have a different style. I’ve always felt that it’s OK for bloggers to share some tidbits of their personal life, so long as it (a) is true, (b) is not for a self-indulgent pity-party and (c) doesn’t cross the line and come across as whining. In Monday’s post, it may have seemed that I crossed that line.

On Monday, I received an e-mail from one of my fellow IndyCar bloggers that sort of hit me between the eyes. It was not written with malice, nor was it blasting me. Instead, it was written with the intention of giving me some friendly advice. The e-mail essentially said that complaining about my mother-in-law with dementia was not a good idea. No matter how bad it was for me, it was surely worse for her. Boy, talk about making me feel about two feet tall. The e-mail went on to say that lately, my site has been full of complaints about my son, my move and now the mother-in-law. This person said that as a friend, they were concerned that I was getting the reputation as a crusty old man (or something to that effect).

Hmmm. That was what I said as I read it. My first thought was that this person should mind their own business. But knowing this person as I do, I knew this person to be a friend and the intentions behind the e-mail were good. As the day wore on, I thought more and more about it. I consulted with a couple of friends who said that even though the stories I told were hilarious to listen to, the comic value probably didn’t translate to print – especially to those that don’t know my sarcasm.

I went back and read what I wrote Monday and realized that my fellow IndyCar blogger was right. Instead of reading it as someone who knew the whole story, I tried to interpret my writing from the perspective of someone who didn’t know me or the situation. You know what? It didn’t sound funny at all. So I actually deleted the second of two paragraphs that I devoted to the mother-in-law – the one that went into agonizing detail about her standing in front of the television and then sitting and complaining about how boring racing was. I wasted two full paragraphs on my complaints (thinking I was funny), when I should have been writing about the Honda Indy Toronto.

In person, I tend to have a dry and sarcastic sense of humor. I could have verbally told the same story, word-for-word, and would have had my friends and co-workers rolling on the floor laughing. But facial expressions and tonal inflections don’t exist in the written word. So the section that I wrote with intended deadpan humor, instead came across as me whining and making a cruel joke at a poor old woman’s expense.

My sense of humor is much more subtle than that of Roy Hobbson or some of the other current or former bloggers. In fact, it’s sometimes so hard to understated that people can have a hard time telling if I’m kidding or being serious. If they have trouble telling the difference in person, I can imagine the difficulty someone reading my thoughts would have.

My wife Susan was not offended, but she gets my personality. But the person who sent me the e-mail, did me a favor and I thank them for it. It reminded me that not everyone gets my sarcasm and that my words were coming off as offensive and whiney. I assure you – that was not my intention.

So, if I offended anyone or turned anyone off with my comments – I apologize. Dementia is probably not the most appropriate of subjects to make jokes about. Even though I had the blessing and understanding of my wife, I can see where it would rub a lot of people the wrong way. Therefore, I will refrain from making any more jokes about my mother-in-law’s mental state on this site and try to stick more closely to racing. As always, thanks for reading Oilpressure.com.

George Phillips

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19 Responses to “A Serving Of Humble Pie”

  1. bentwickerbill Says:

    I think that is a good call George…

  2. Even though I don’t comment much I’ve been a regular reader of your blog for a couple of years now but you’ve now become one of my favorite bloggers by showing that you’re a man of integrity. Even though I don’t know you personally I think that this post shows more about you than the one on Monday could have.

  3. Probably a good decision, George. As the son-in-law of a woman with full blown Alzheimer’s, I can appreciate the humor, but also aprreciate the pain such a disease can cause (more for the family than the patient). Best to leave this blog for racing, and start another one about the trials of mid-life.

  4. Susan Phillips Says:

    I hope no one takes offense to George’s comments about my mother. My mother is and always will be a character. She was a “gas passer” (anesthetist–trained at Johns Hopkins) and for many years in the labor and delivery rooms, she was a favorite of the doctors for her bawdy sense of humor. When she was a student nurse, legendary Jim Thorpe was one of her patients. Some of the things she still comes up with are pretty hilarious. She does not share my love of racing, unfortunately, and does have a tendency to stand in front of the TV when we are watching things she does not really get into (the look on her face is priceless). It is hard to see a parent become elderly and start losing their grip on I guess the only word is “reality.” I am fortunate that I have George to help out, we have to laugh sometimes, I am not ready for her to leave her home and little dog–we take the good with the bad. Personally, I think she has a mom-crush on George.

  5. Yea George.

  6. 乔治也是一个气过客 !他从中国自助表了他的训练。

  7. My dog has narcolepsy.

  8. Now, that is a pass for the lead! Great desicion and great post today. I was one of those who took the comments a bit rough since both of my grandmas were dementia patients before their passing (one last week!). Keep it up!

  9. billytheskink Says:

    I thought it was apparent that you found the situation with your mother-in-law amusing and that you were trying to relay that amusement to us, but I can certainly see where someone would interpret that as you just grumbling. Kudos for taking some constructive criticism to heart and continuing to make this a great site.

  10. Carburetor Says:

    I must have the same sense of humor George, because I totally understood what you were saying about your Mother-in-law. My father suffered from dementia, it was very sad, but I came to learn that sometimes you just have to shake your head and giggle to yourself to help deal with its effects on a loved one. It doesn’t mean you’re callous or care any less–it’s just a means of coping. Keep up the good work; I greatly enjoy your honesty and your posts.

    • ditto, ditto, ditto
      I can understand that if one has a dry, sarcastic sense of humor AND a dislike for change as George does …
      George, we respect you.
      Keep up the good work writing about motorsport!

  11. I thought your comments about the mother in law were funny. Maybe it’s because I can relate or else I’ve got a twisted sense of humor also.

  12. NYCSusan Says:

    I’ve been a fan of your blog for a long time, but a rare commenter. I did understand that you were using humor to make the best of an unfortunate situation. I think there is an old adage: if you didn’t you didn’t find a way to laugh about it, you would have to cry. I, for one, have always enjoyed that you share your some of personal stories along with the Indycar commentary. That’s why I read your blog before the others. Please don’t dial it back TOO much!

  13. james t suel Says:

    George your a indianapolis 500 lover,so i think we can cut you some slack!!!

    Everyone goes off now and then. You have a great blog ,i enjoy so hang in there.

  14. I don’t read alot of other blogs because they don’t appeal to me, and I choose not to. The way you mix the rigors of life with your passion for racing, is something i can relate to. Often reading your blog is the best part of my day. I think you are articulate and funny. However, I don’t agree with your “friend”. This is your blog, and I can chose to read it or not. You are not writing for the AP. If your “friend” doesn’t appreciate your sense of humor, is he really a friend, or someone with a competitive prospective? You’re a smart man, i’m sure you already know the awnser. I hope you don’t take this the wrong way. But, I don’t see why he feels the need to edit your blog.

  15. I’m going to help you write an apology. They go like this, “I’m sorry for “name the transgression”.” Apologies are not contingent on whether or not you offended someone and their level of hurt.

  16. George, as someone who knows you as George-the-Mentor-and-Counselor v. the Indy Car guy, I giggled at your posts about the family events of the last weeks pleased that I was seeing a candid, human side of you. It takes a measure of courage to reveal who we really are in these forums. I applaud you for your authenticity and I honor the apology that you wrote to those who were sensitive to your remarks. Onward and upward!

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