August 20, 2010

Dear Miss Manners

My self-centered father-in-law, who has been on the ever-fascinating journey of Learning About Himself for at LEAST thirty years now and who calls every year or two to explain how all the crappy/negligent ways he's acted as a father and grandfather are totally not his fault---says he's going to call us in half an hour. These calls---mercifully infrequent---are filled with long pauses I have to fill or else he'll get progressively more morose and sulky, and long, college-student-like, self-awed explanations for why other people are to blame for his dissatisfying life, and Amazing Insights into why he is the way he is, and weird paranoid remarks about the things he thinks people are saying about him, and all the admiring things he claims his therapist says about him, and all the ways in which he continues to be a Student of the Universe.

The question is: What would Miss Manners say was the correct amount of alcohol to consume before the phone rings? I realize this is not her usual m├ętier, but I think of her---and you---as someone I can turn to for ALL THINGS.

30 comments:

kareninAK said...

Perhaps you could make a game of it - every time he says 'blame' or 'they' or 'not my fault'... you slam a shot. Conversation ends when you run out of alcohol or when you can't pick yourself up off the floor. Eh. Good luck with the chat.

minniemoocher@gmail.com said...

Do you have to be on the phone with him at all? Let Paula nd kids talk while you go outside with a cocktail.

Jen said...

Sounds like we have the same father-in-law. I say the correct amount of alcohol to drink is all of it.

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

Tequila shots. Two before he calls and one every time something isn't really his fault.

You could also make a game of letting the long pauses go progressively longer making bets with yourself how long they will go and doing a shot when you win

Mika said...

Oy vey. Hmm, I would say for me personally three rum and cokes sounds about right. Either that, or Jen's answer. Good luck!

Swistle said...

MinnieMoocher- This is exactly what I say! Why do I have to talk to him AT ALL??? But he will insist. And since he called earlier to ask what would be a good time to call, I can't even be "at the store" or "on a walk."

Superjules said...

Gentle Reader, I think you should take 2 shots, leave the bottle nearby just in case, and have a pen and paper on hand. Keep a tally of the number of times he says one of his catchphrases ("student of the universe," etc.). When the conversation is over, count up the tally and go buy yourself a present for that amount of dollars.

minniemoocher@gmail.com said...

why does he want to torment you?! i think you should talk over him loudly about how your therapist thinks you are rad. then hear the doorbell ring and hang up.

Rah said...

Is there any chance he reads your blog? I mean, it's awfully interesting that he's calling after you JUST WROTE about the fact that he didn't/doesn't call.

Etiquette suggests (cough cough)that you focus on the other person--ask him sweetly what prompted him to call after all this time. Scuse me, I have to go polish my pitchfork.

LifeIsABanquet said...

Miss Manners would say (if she possesses the wisdom I understand her to have) that "you should have a drink in hand and the bottle in reach. Refill as necessary."

d e v a n said...

How much? hmmm... how much is in the house? heh

I would definitely take at LEAST 2-3 shots and since you may have a higher tolerance than me, take as many as you need to get to that place where you are tingly and happy and don't care a lot about what others say. Then take one more, just in case. ;)

LifeIsABanquet said...

But alas, you said before the phone rings. In that case I recommend 1.5 and keep it coming, especially if the call is late.

St said...

The answer is simple. You drink however much it takes to make you not care!

Nicole said...

Two large glasses of wine. Then, whenever he says something about his journey in life, say in a OMG I'M SO INTERESTED tone, "REALLY! REALLY! THAT IS SO FASCINATING. TELL ME MORE PLEASE." And only those words, over and over. And keep the bottle of wine beside you for frequent refills.

Annie Pazoo said...

Miss Manners would probably tell you to make one observation or comment in response to his first world-shattering amazing observation and then cut him off at the pass. She does not tolerate boors or bores, after all.

I, on the other hand, will address your question: as much as you want to consume, and as much as can be consumed while still able to get yourself to your bed afterwards (oh, caveat, perhaps limit that by how much you want your kids to see....hmmm)

Kylene said...

Sounds like my un-medicated bi-polar jacka$$ of an exboyfriend. :(

Jen said...

I like all of the ideas about a shot per annoying comment. But also? I would say at least two drinks beforehand. Then at least you can be able to enjoy the conversation in the way any mildly intoxicated person enjoys talking.

Beths said...

I have to go with Jen #1. All of it.

Marie Green said...

I think 4 shots, plus an extra once it's over.

(Ok, fine, I cheated via twitter.)

You= saint.

Katy said...

The correct answer is. . .

As many as necessary.

And that's my final answer.

Lippy said...

We have the same FIL! Mine never calls. When we go to PA he stops by his mother's house ( Bud's grandma) when we are there, and then once the morning we leave. He doesn't ask about his son or his grandkids. He talks about himself, his music and his love of church. I hate that asshole. You should drink it all!

Aoife said...

Why are you fielding your FIL's call? Hand it off to the husband!

fairydogmother said...

I'm with Jen! Alas that would probably amount to a beer or two in our house. We really should drink more around here!

Also, situations like this are one of the great things about having a dog. Because dogs need to be walked, sometimes at conveniently 'inconvenient' times. And gee, I don't know what was going on but it took him over an hour to do his business tonight on that extra walk we just took. Gee, I hope he isn't having tummy troubles because a vet visit over the weekend would really be a bummer. Oh, hey, look at that, I totally just missed that phone call I'd been waiting for. Bummer! ;)

el-e-e said...

For me, the correct amount would be just enough to make me fall conveniently asleep! Hope you made it painless.

Sarah said...

Personally, I set a timer for about 15 min or whatever you feel your personal tolerance will permit. Then when the timer goes off I say something like, "I hear the baby crying! I gotta run!" then get off quickly.

Becki D said...

You could just accidentally direct him to this blog post!

I'm guessing he doesn't follow you on the Interwebz...

Kelsey said...

Three shots before and then one for each awk. pause?

Livinia Redlips said...

do you have caller ID? don't answer the phone! that's what i'd do...

or pick it up and hand it to a child - let them get bored out of their skulls at grandpa's excuses.

his dissatisfaction is not your problem!

Anonymous said...

How come you hated your MIL and you also hate your FIL, something is fishy here.

Swistle said...

Oh, Anonymous, whatever do you think it could BE? My guess is that I happen to have two pineholes for in-laws! But you evidently want to make it something ELSE! DO speak your mind! Is it a CONSPIRACY??? Is it that I hate EVERYONE??? Am I MAKING THE WHOLE THING UP??? OMG, so much potential for FISHINESS!!

Or, perhaps we could go for the simple explanation, which is that both my in-laws happened to be jerky, unpleasant people. Considering their own son won't contact or visit either one of them (well, OBV not my mother-in-law at this point, but I mean BEFORE she died), I'd say we have two votes for my explanation.