Sunday, September 6, 2009

Thoughts on a Tea Party

Photograph publically available on the web. There's another full page of it which I'm just too embarrassed to share.

This image is from a murder mystery tea party. This page from the online photo album features a character named Barbara, complete with her pretend neck brace, complaints about her wheelchair, etc., while others point out that she's a hypochondriac and a hypocrite (or is at least perceived to be) since she can go swimming, pole dancing, and has been caught skating. Thoughts? I'm interested since people don't understand why I, an intermittent wheelchair user, am sensitive about it (actually some do, others don't). Yes, these are people I know. The young woman in front is a newly minted PhD from my school, the woman hosting is a lawyer whom I've known for sixteen years, and my mother-in-law also attended and participated. The lawyer is also one of my mother-in-law's two best friends.

You can click the image to make it larger, though the text is still difficult to read. The caption reads: "Barbara looked so ill, we wondered if she would survive the party." And the relevant commentary (the characters are accusing each other of murder) reads:
Dear Big Feather Betty,

Shakespeare also said to kill all the lawyers. Methinks this to be a good idea. Your insulting words are to me "like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer".

You know I am in very delicate health and must watch exposure to every sort of contamination and upsetting situations. I also try to get the proper amount of exercise and pole dancing is an excellent form of exercise. I go to the facility at which Rachel saw me Sat. night for the pole. I breathe through my mouth, a technique I learned from old Marilyn Monroe films, while I exercise there so I don't inhale the smoke. Barbara

Rachel, Do you have handicap parking in front of your house? I require a special parking place due to my frailties.

Cut the crap! I saw you at the skate park last week and my PI took the following footage, and that was before Rachel saw you pole dancing. Bring your motorized wheel chair if you can't walk to the door! I believe Rachel's sidewalk is safer than the skate park...

Betty, I saw BABBLING BARBARA at the Water Park on Thursday trying to get someone to take her in as they would not let her come in a motorized wheelchair. She was drooling and whinnnning all over the gate. I think if she needs a handicap parking she should park at the library and motor on over, just give herself enough time as we can't wait for her when it's time to sipppp the tea. I am looking forward to this party and I know I don't have to sit next to the babbling whinning Barb.
As loving as always, AGNES

Truly I can't help but see it as a personal attack. While my sisters-in-law don't think so, they (unlike Rachel and my mother-in-law) actually understand me and have been my friends (one of them since childhood). My mother-in-law, in contrast, has been mean for the past two full years. The more ill I am, the more mean she is. There has been a marked change in our relationship since I've become more disabled. She sees me as lazy and thinks I just need to be more positive, to use better posture and to exercise more. Her own daughters have told me she will never understand my health issues. Ironically, she has multiple but mostly more minor medical problems herself. She doesn't understand intermittent disability or changing pain levels. She doesn't understand why I need a scooter out but not at her house (I actually do, but can't get it into her house).

Because of my in-laws' continuing criticism, I recently finally told my in-laws, at my husband's suggestion, that I want privacy about my health and don't want to discuss it with them.

Even if this is from a boxed game, I still find it highly insensitive and reprehensible. All of the other characters just had a photo and a short phrase to describe them, none of this at all.


The Goldfish said...

I very much hope that this has nothing to do with you, but it's pretty damn tasteless whatever. I struggle to imagine people who would be so malicious as to do this with a particularly individual in mind, but it does perhaps reflect a view of disability of which both this, and your MIL's attitude towards your conditions, are a part.

I'm very sorry that the situation is such that it would even occur to you that this is about you.

FridaWrites said...

Thanks--I think you're right; even if it's not about me at all, to me it's just symbolic of all the conflicts we've had. Why I've not mentioned more of this conflict on the blog: to be fair to them. But why am I protecting someone who's actually been cruel and at times emotionally abusive, not just irritating? They wouldn't even take my children to see me after my spine surgery.

I hope you're right, though when my mother-in-law mentioned the party and her role (a rich widow), my father-in-law cut her off and told her she'd better watch what she said. She's also been telling me over and over that I just need to exercise until my husband called her and told her to stop.

FridaWrites said...

You know, my husband says it's at least clear they've learned about disability from watching me. Other pictures show her special seating arrangment and pretend heart monitor while she's wearing something akin to a neck brace.

yanub said...

I didn't realize your mother-in-law was so very unpleasant. Since I don't know more about her, I won't say anything--except, you are one hell of a woman for not having run her down in your scooter yet.

FridaWrites said...

You made me laugh, yanub, and I desperately needed that more than you know! Thank you.

We actually got along pretty darn well before things became so bad a few years ago; there were ways in which she did rub me the wrong way. but in general things worked.