Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Snippets from the Dinner Table

I’d written in an earlier post about my talkative family, and this Christmas Eve was no exception. To quote my dad we are a “lively bunch." Among other things, we talked about Sandy Hook, “irresistible” dental assistants, cheating spouses, and male pastors who like women just a little too much.

I’d brought up the topic of Sandy Hook because my aunt is a psychiatric nurse, and her daughter, my cousin Mia (that’s Dr. Mia to you), is a therapist. I wanted to know what part, if any, they believed the mental health industry played in the tragedy. Both were very clear in their opinions that Adam Lanza’s troubles were not the result of a failure within the system. “It’s not like he told a mental health worker what he was planning to do,” my aunt said, “He wasn’t in treatment.” She paused. “You know, I’m tired of … people just don’t understand how complicated this is. Some things can’t be prevented.” She and my cousin then expressed their dissatisfaction about what they see as the stigmatization of the mentally ill. “Most mentally ill patients are not violent,” my aunt said, and my cousin agreed. Demonizing the mentally ill is not a solution to the problem of mass shootings, they said. Better gun control might be a start, however.

We talked about that some more, and then Mia wanted to know what we thought about the dentist who fired his assistant because he found her to be “irresistible.” Mia said that the dentist had gone to his pastor, who’d recommended the assistant be fired. Being a married woman, I said that I was sorry for the assistant, but if the dentist were my husband that assistant would have to go. Whoa! My aunt and brother cried. How is that fair? The dentist needs to handle his issues. That’s all fine and good, I said, but in the meantime, the assistant needs to go. I said “Doesn’t the bible say we should flee temptation?” Quick as a flash my brother said “What scripture is that?” Dang! “I hate talking to you,” I told him. He’s a student in seminary school. I can’t make any comments about scripture without him challenging me. Even if I do remember the chapter and verse (which I usually don’t), he’ll tell me I’ve interpreted it wrong. In this case, he said “Nah, the scriptures don’t say that.” What! (Okay, it says “flee immorality” 1 Corinthians 6:18—close enough.) Mia’s sister, Brandi agreed with me, then said “Mia, I bet you’re leaving something out. Mia is always leaving stuff out of stories.” Yes, Mia, you did leave something out—like the “mundane work texts” in which the dentist asked his assistant “how often she experienced an orgasm.” Hmmm… Unfortunately, the law can’t always protect the clueless. While I stand by my opinion that the dentist, jerk that he is, was within his rights to fire the assistant, after reading more of the story it’s too bad she didn’t sue him earlier for harassment. Considering some of the comments her boss made (for example, telling her that “if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing”—who the heck says stuff like that? And exactly how did that dentist avoid getting his butt kicked by his assistant’s husband?) she might have had a case.

The conversation then moved to cheating spouses, what counts as cheating (it’s not just sex, people), flirty pastors (I’m not sure how that started), single chastity, and the difficulty black women—especially black, Christian women—have finding suitable mates.

Eventually it was time to say our goodbyes, with hugs and kisses all around. Until the next time, family! I’m sure they’ll be plenty of happenings to talk about between now and then!

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