Tonight Dandette said that her plans to watch Trainspotting while getting hammered have fallen through – most of the friends who wanted to do it can’t make it for the particular night that I’ll be out. So she asked The Dandy if he’d like to split a bottle of wine with her that night, instead.
After a long, tense pause, The Dandy said okay, and surreptitiously mouthed something to me that I didn’t catch (I’m terrible at lip-reading).
Later, when Dandette was out getting groceries, I asked The Dandy what he’d been trying to convey. He said that he was mouthing that it would be just one bottle of wine. And added that since they’d be splitting it, it would only amount to a couple of glasses apiece. He said this sort of proudly, like he’d solved a problem.
I said that the thing is, she’s not going to want to stop at just one bottle. She’ll probably buy more than one, and then The Dandy will either have to have a scaaaaary conflict with her over it or else say nothing and just sit there dealing with her being drunk. And I can’t bring myself to give too much of a shit about that because it’s his choice and I won’t even be around, but I’m just saying.
I said that the way Dandette basically made plans to get hammered the moment I wasn’t around, and when those fell through she started casting about for other reasons to drink, is all a big red flag for alcoholism – and anyway The Dandy is perfectly aware that she has problems with alcohol – so it bugs the shit out of me that he’s enabling her.
The Dandy said that no, he was only going to let her have like two glasses – he figured that she was never going to quit drinking entirely but maybe he could teach her healthy habits. I paused for a long while, trying to fight back the wave of shitty memories of my ex* that went rolling over me, and finally was as diplomatic as I could manage: “I think you’re misunderstanding the fundamental point of addiction. A person with a huge genetic predisposition for alcoholism isn’t just having ‘bad habits.’ They have a compulsion. And I have never, ever heard of an alcoholic being able to train themselves to have a glass or two every now and then. You allowing Dandette to have just a couple of glasses of wine is actually mean, I think; it’s like giving someone a single potato chip. You’re opening up that whole huge craving and making it so every cell in her body is screaming for more, and then saying no.”
I thought I was done talking, then, so I walked away. But then I had more to say so I came back. The Dandy yet again paused the video he had been trying to watch online, and managed not to seem pissy about it, which I appreciated.
I told him that him saying “yes” to wine bugs the shit out of me because it reinforces the narrative that Dandette doesn’t really have an issue with drinking, it’s just me being unreasonable because of my personal history. I feel like I’m being gaslit from both sides, now, with both Dandette and The Dandy acting like the drinking is fine as long as Dandette waits until I – Buzz Killington, Esquire – am not around to bitch about it. When meanwhile, The Dandy also believes that she’s an alcoholic. He also hates what she’s like when she’s drunk. And so, when Dandette asked to split some wine with him, I think he should have presented a united front with me (“Sorry, I also feel that you have a drinking problem, and I won’t enable it. If you must drink, please don’t do it here.”). Instead he totally caved.
Throughout all of this, The Dandy did his thing of seeming baffled and silent (except for his little spiel about teaching Dandette good habits). I’m a lot less irritated by this now that I know he’s not purposely trying to freeze me out. I concluded my rant by saying “Okay, I know you tend to need a lot of processing time so I’m not expecting you to say anything. I’m just pretty upset right now and needed to talk about it. Let what I said rattle around in your head for a while. And thanks for listening.” The Dandy smiled and nodded and I hugged him. The hug felt a little forced at the time, but pretty soon after that my mood lightened and I felt a lot more benevolent toward him. I’d said what I needed to say; he’d listened (and looked baffled, but not belligerent as he sometimes does, which seems like a good sign); he would think about what I’d said and probably concede later that I’m right. Not too shabby.
But ten minutes later The Dandy was joking around with me like everything was normal and I found myself feeling pissed off again, like hey, buddy, you’re on probation – I’m allowed to act normal, you’re not. I think really it’s just because this way of us handling conflict is new. He says that when he goes silent it means he needs to process things and he’ll be able to respond to them at a later time, and he did seem to do that, the one time that it happened since then. But he’s also said that he’s just as likely to forget the whole conversation and need to be prompted later for follow-up. So I don’t know how reliable he’ll be in getting back to me, or how reasonable the conclusions he presents will be. Hell, I don’t even know if he really meant it about the processing thing or if it’s a trick to avoid talking about uncomfortable subjects. I haven’t done the “giving him space to process” thing enough times to know what happens; there’s no pattern yet for me to analyze. Things are up in the air.
Obviously I really, really want him to tell me that I’m right and he should have asserted himself with Dandette. Like, whether or not he has the balls to actually rescind his offer of wine, I at least want him to acknowledge that he did a stupid thing saying yes in the first place. I mean, I already did the hard part of telling Dandette she has a drinking problem; I practically paved the way for The Dandy to refuse to let her drink with him. No big discussion or unexpected accusations needed from him; he pretty much could have just pointed at me and muttered “what she said.” And he missed his chance.
*Again I say: Ex would regularly tell me he was finishing up his last beer and would leave soon, but then not come home for hours. “Just one more beer” became ten more beers EVERY. FUCKING. TIME.