Sign up for our newsletters   

Baltimore City Paper home.
Print Email

Think Mink

For the Betty

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 5/26/2004

I'm worried about my niece. Betty (not her real name) is very athletic and, until recently, was an excellent student. But then her mother, my sister, found out that Betty's best friends were gay. This flipped her out. She demanded to know if Betty is also gay, but even though Betty denied it, my sister wouldn't believe her. She told Betty that she's sinning against God. She also refuses to let Betty see her friends and has stopped all her after-school activities, including sports. Betty's a great kid and she's strong, so I'm not worried she'll do anything rash, but I hate seeing her so unhappy. I suggested to my sister that she send Betty to a therapist, but the one she sent her to was her church adviser, and that did no good. I know my sister truly believes she's doing the right thing, but she's way out of line. I'm a good woman, but I'm not religious. I love Betty and don't give a damn whether she's gay or straight. I'd be happy to have her come live with me, but my sister thinks I'll just encourage Betty's "sin" and refuses to allow it. Is there anything I can do to help?

Care About Betty

Dear CAB:

It's heartbreaking when a parent puts her faith in some intangible, unproven, and unforgiving deity ahead of her faith in her own child, when a child who is accustomed to being loved as a multifaceted human being is suddenly reviled as a "sinner," whose perceived "sin" becomes the one thing by which she is judged, canceling out all previously appreciated virtues and accomplishments. Thank you, Jesus, for another life fucked up in your name.

Whether she's gay or not, Betty is lucky to have you as a loving counterpoint to her mother's grim disapproval, and you should absolutely let her know that you're there for her, but be discreet. You don't want to make matters worse by antagonizing your sister, or by adding to Betty's emotional conflict by trying to make her denounce her mother. She's only months away from turning 18, when she can legally leave home and move in with you if she wants to.

Until then, stay in touch and keep reminding and reassuring her that not everyone shares her mother's opinion, and that as soon as she's no longer living with her mother she'll be free to choose her own friends and way of life. Of course, if there's a crisis and she needs to move in with you now, by all means take her in. You can deal with her mother later.

 

I've 36 years old and have been happily married for five years, yet I have become smitten with a co-worker. She is young, attractive, shapely, and smart. We get along really well at work. She has a great personality and she makes me laugh. She doesn't realize how nervous and awkward I feel around her. I love my wife, but if I were single, well, it would be a different story. Is it unusual for a happily married man to become so infatuated with another woman? Does it mean my marriage has serious problems? Also, I don't want to put my marriage in any danger, but I'd love to know if this woman finds me attractive, too. Is there a way I can find this out without actually coming on to her or giving her a false impression? Or is that just asking for trouble?

Married Man Looking

Dear MML:

What, are you in junior high? "I don't want to ask her out--I just want to know if she likes me." Obviously, if you get along really well at work, she likes you. Maybe she likes you like a brother, maybe like a friend, maybe like an easy-to-work-with colleague. Maybe the fact that you're married, and therefore unlikely to come on to her, makes her feel safe and comfortable around you. Maybe she's got a deep, burning passion for you. The question isn't so much how she feels about you, it's why you want to know and what you would do with the information if you had it. If you found out that she thinks you're nice enough, but totally unsexy, would that hurt your feelings? Piss you off? What if she finds you irresistible? What would that do? Would the ego gratification be enough, or would you try to get more deeply involved? And would that be fair to her if you've no plans to leave your wife?

A ring on your finger does not automatically render you deaf, dumb, and blind in the presence of other women, nor does it protect you from unexpected or unwelcome hormonal surges. If that were true, divorce lawyers all over the country would be out chasing ambulances. But even if you can't be blamed for having a crush on this woman, if you want to protect your marriage, you'll stop daydreaming, determine that no matter her feelings you will treat her with professional, respectful detachment, and go home and enjoy the woman you're already happily married to.

Related stories

Think Mink archives

More from Mink Stole

Pick and Choose (4/12/2006)
First of all, homosexuality isnít like snake handling or Catholicism; it isnít a cult or a religion you can be recruited for or converted to.

Territorial Rites (4/5/2006)

Family Guy (3/15/2006)

Comments powered by Disqus
Calendar
CP on Facebook
CP on Twitter