Saturday, August 10, 2013

No. 299 – Magical Mystery Tour

Performer: The Beatles
Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Original Release: Magical Mystery Tour
Year: 1967
Definitive Version: None

The day of Mom’s intervention in March 1986, when Magical Mystery Tour was a companion piece to I Am the Walrus, started early. That was part of the plan—get her out of bed early, so she was a bit confused and therefore prone to suggestion. My job was to get Mom out of the Condo. There would be no way the intervention would be successful if we tried to do it on her home base.

As I mentioned, I had serious doubts as to whether our little scheme would work. It didn’t seem to me that Mom thought she had a problem that needed correcting. That being the case, how could we convince her otherwise?

That’s where the intervention comes in. As you might know, an intervention is intended essentially to humiliate the subject enough that he or she realizes getting help is the only way to repair the damage.

Jin and Scott were all for trying anything—even this desperate measure. I needed a bit of selling, not that I wasn’t for trying something. I just wasn’t sure that forcing the issue was the right idea. Lacking a better one of my own, I went along with the intervention. That’s why everyone thought I was a weak link.

We couldn’t tell Mom what was going on, of course, but doubts existed as to whether I could keep a secret. After I bought in, though, there was no going back, so there was zero chance I was going to make the plans go awry. Besides, after nearly three years of successfully sneaking around behind the backs of Beth’s parents, I knew I could pull off a convincing lie.

The solution for getting Mom out of the Condo was easy: Uncle Jack would call saying he had flown into Columbus for business. Yes, it was early, but he wasn’t going to be in town long, just an hour or so, out by the airport. If we wanted to see him, we had to go now. When he called, I answered the phone in Mom’s room so she could hear and did my best Brando: “The horror. The horror.”

No, I said, “Hello? Really? You’re in TOWN? Where are you? Yeah … we’ll come over.” I told Mom that Jack was in town for a few hours, and we had to go to him to see him. (Jin and Scott spent the night at Dad’s.) Mom wanted to see her brother. It took awhile, but she got up and dressed, and we drove to the Holiday Inn by Port Columbus where Jack was, in fact, staying.

He came out to greet us—Mom was glad to see him—and we invariably went to his room. It wasn’t his room at all but another that was set up for the express purpose of the intervention. Jin and Scott and the counselor from Brookwood were there already. When Mom turned the corner and saw Jin and Scott, she froze up. She knew something was up but didn’t know what. Jack and I both forcefully prodded her to keep walking and sit down.

Then we read Mom the riot act, where we each outlined our grievances—all while starting and ending our written spiel with the phrase, “I love you.” It was all highly choreographed and rehearsed, so as to produce a particular result.

My speech involved a couple of stories I’ve told on this here blog—about my friends making fun of me and her because she was an hour late in picking us up at school, about how she freaked me out by crashing through a parking gate at Riverside hospital after a car accident.

At this time, I learned the depths of Jin and Scott’s despair. I just assumed Jin didn’t really care, because she moved out years ago. With Scott, I was away at college, and when we were together, it was all about having fun, not talking about serious issues. I had no idea what they had gone through.

Jin told a story about when she and Scott went to Florida with Mom, just them. (I was at Wabash.) I remembered that that trip happened, but what I didn’t know was how one night, Mom got on one of her drunkedn rampages, and Jin and Scott went to hide on the beach for hours until Mom passed out. Scott told a story about how he had to feed himself dinner constantly at home—Spaghetti-os, because he was a little kid and didn’t know how to cook—and how he was torn up feeling lonely.

Mom broke down from the beginning, and at the end instantly agreed to go to rehab. Jack would take her at once, and I would go home, pack a suitcase of clothes and other sundry items to take over. The day ended on an up note with praise for all involved but particularly me, because I followed through. Like I said, there never was any doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to.

But my doubt about the efficacy of what we did continued to linger. In early April, Jin, Scott and I attended a weeklong retreat at Brookwood, because family members needed to go through a rehab of their own to a certain extent. We ate and lived with the patients and attended meeting after meeting.

The family-week experience is a whole other story that I suppose I’ll cover at some point. If not, all you need to know is that my doubts were wholly justified, which should come as no spoiler given other entires.

An, all in all, Mom’s intervention was only the second most troubling thing I experienced in March 1986.

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