A couple of years ago Imedla Marcos was the guest of honor at my cowsins’ wedding in Manila. I respect my cowsins of course, and I don’t begrudge them for being related to that woman, but I was a little stunned by how comfortable everyone was by her being there. I don’t know how well she actually knows my cowsins, but it seems to me she was getting a free meal from distant relatives.
Anyway, at one point I turned to my kuya and asked, “Why am I the only one here that is still mad at that woman?”
“Oh, that was a long time ago,” he answered, “We are Filipinos, we are very forgiving.”
So her and her staff of half a dozen sat at the table in the corner under the shade; my sister and I, unhappily, had the table next to her. And I was determined to snub her, she who lived a decadent life with a warehouse full of shoes, married to a dictator who had his opponents murdered. So yah, I snubbed the shit out of that witch.
Who does my anger serve? Nobody.
When I was a little kid, I loved the Muppet Show, loved it. Unfortunately, it was on at the same time as the Lawrence Welk show, which my grandma loved. Loved.
In the 1970s in a Filipino family, the adults win every conflict of will; kids are supposed to act lucky to be alive. So no, I didn’t have a chance in hell of watching the show I had waited all week to watch. To be clear, there was no DVR, no netfilx, no YouTube…. if you wanted to watch your show, you watched it when it was aired…, or you never watched it at all.
Anyway, I was a little kid, and I asked if I could watch the Muppet Show. The adults, of course, said yes, because adults lie to kids. Yes you can watch it, after Lawrence Welk. I said, but they are on at the same time! No, said the adults, you can watch it after Lawrence Welk.
I wasn’t more than four or five years old, but I remember thinking, “they didn’t say no.” If they were going to prevent me from watching it, they would just say “no.” And oh they are immigrants, they don’t understand how TV shows work. I watched the half hour tick away desperately, knowing that I was missing the Muppet Show, while the adults were enjoying the smooth sounds of some creepily overdressed white people.
When Lawrence Welk was over, my grandmother looked at me happily and said, ok, now you can change it… so I changed it to the channel the Muppet Show was on and saw… the closing credits.
And then I hated them. Hatred. They said yes, I could watch my show; actively prevented me from watching it, and then acted surprised when my show was over, but it was too late then, right? No use crying, John Patrick.
My relatives are Filipino; they are quick to forgive and forget. I think they fully expected that I shared that bullshit personality defect with them. Their thinking was that it’s better to lie to a kid, and then deal with the disappointment rather than compromise or godforbid INDULGE a little kid.
Then, as now, their lies bought my resentment. I remember the following week asking if we could NOT visit relatives on Sunday, so I could stay home and watch the Muppets, and NOT be lied to.
It’s 35 years later and I still have questions…
- What kind of value system do you have to lie to a little kid? You could have said “No, you can’t watch.” I would have thrown the same little-kid tantrum if you had said no; the only difference by lying to me is that you made yourself a LIAR. And dear God, I have always hated liars.
- Lawrence Welk? What a pile of shit! I would honestly rather PRACTICE MATH than listen to that saccharin piss that passes for music. What in the hell is wrong with you?
- Lawrence Welk is an 60 minute show, the Muppet Show was on in the last 30 minutes. Would it have KILLED you to let me watch my show a little bit? Would you have died to let a four year old kid see some fucking puppets?
- You are dicks. It’s not a question, but it needs to be said.
It must be said that the adults were MUCH more indulgent with my younger cowsins; my younger cowsins seemed to always get their way, while I was told, no, John Patrick, you’re too old, no, John Patrick, you can’t get everything you want, no, John Patrick your cowsins are just little kids, they don’t understand like you do. So no.
It makes me wonder if I was some kind of asshole as a little kid, if I somehow deserved that treatment. I never begrudged my cowsins for getting better treatment than me, but I absolutely did think that the adults were some hypocrites.
Ok, so I’m not actually angry about the Muppet Show still. But I remember very acutely that hatred and resentment that I felt when I was lied to. Did that anger get me anywhere? No. But you must understand that when you lie, the hatred and resentment that follows is EARNED. When you lie, you DESERVE to be hated and resented. Is that what you want?
Guh, read a parenting book, adults of the past.