A Serving Of Humble Pie
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.