The Gerbil Strikes Back

Um, yeah. It has come to my attention that I'm your father. Any room for negotiation on that?

Episode 99, THE GERBIL STRIKES BACK: It is a dark time for Parental Forces. Although The Key to The Nest has been reclaimed, the Rebellion, led by The Gerbil, has continued its onslaught unabated.

Using daytime nocturnalism powers, the Gerbil has established a hidden rebel base to engage Parental units in an ongoing campaign of terror and harassment.

Emboldened by a strange phenomenon known as a “job,” the Gerbil is seeking to stockpile vital supplies of cigarettes, energy drinks and drugs while continuing to avoid all forms of responsibility…

Alrighty, then. Where were we? Oh yes. The gerbil had obtained a job and had even voluntarily chosen to hand over the source of his powers, The Key. (The key to our house.)

First up, the “job.” Yes, through absolutely no effort on the part of the gerbil, he had obtained a job. We had previously tried log sheets where the gerbil was to document his job hunting efforts. After weeks had gone by, the sheet amassed two or three entries of gerbil scrawl with the names of establishments where the gerbil had submitted applications. The entries turned out to be lies, however. Then the gerbil claimed to have emailed applications to a few other jobs. A check of the “sent folder” revealed these were also lies. It seems the gerbil would leave no stone unturned in his efforts to embrace total hedonism and avoid all possible forms of responsibility.

Finally, though, he ended up helping a relative of ours at her place of employment. She took a little pity on him and gave him odd jobs and such out of her own pocket. He was rather rude about this, often not showing up and bothering to call.

Then another other employee at this place of business decided to quit and gave one week notice. They were in a little bit of a bind. Because the gerbil had been hanging around and was already familiar with the operation, the owners gave him a shot. Did he want the job?

Amazingly the gerbil accepted. The job had landed right in his lap to a sufficient degree that the gerbil was willing to give it a try. I guess he figured our anger would know no bounds if he declined. He was right about that.

The first week was iffy and he almost got fired. He was late one day and called in sick on another. Classic. Amazingly, though, to this day, he still has managed to hang onto the job. Inconceivable!

Two things immediately happened. First, the gerbil and our relative decided amongst themselves that our fucking driveway would serve as their personal bus stop. Our relative would pick up the gerbil on the way to work in our driveway. Why in the name of all that’s holy did it have to be our driveway when there is a whole city out there that could serve the same function? I’ll never know!

So every morning now I open the garage door to find our relative’s car in my driveway and blocking my exit. I get to sit and wait while she moves the car so I can go to work. Ever hear of the street? You could park on the curb. I fail to understand why the difference of 15 fucking feet makes a big difference. It just has to be in our driveway. And every day it’s the same routine. Open garage door, she moves her car, I wait. You think it would have dawned on her by now, “Hey. Gee whiz. Park on the street and I won’t have to move the car every time.” Grrrr.

Secondly, every single day this last week, following the return of the key on Sunday, the gerbil has been loitering in our driveway when I return home from work. I open the garage, pull in, then he is in my face. “Can I borrow your phone?” (He has a super fancy phone but never made the payments so it is disconnected.) “Oh, yeah. Can I borrow your mountain bike to get to work?” Like always everything is about what he wants.

His first week after returning the key and we just had five days of gerbil mooching visits. What part of “moving out” don’t you understand?

Lastly, there is one other amusing anecdote to share. The most interesting thing about the gerbil finally landing a job is this – nothing in the physical universe has changed. The gerbil still doesn’t have any money, of course. That would require “not spending” and “saving” acting together in unison. As far as I can tell, the only thing that has changed is that the gerbil now has more energy drinks, more expensive coffee stand drinks, more cigarettes, more alcohol, and (I’m assuming) a lot more drugs. Well whoop-de-frickin-do!

One afternoon this week my wife attempted to engage the gerbil in chit chat. I was not in the room. She wanted to inquire about money and how that was coming along for him. As usual this line of discussion really agitated the little feller. (He owes us about $1,000 by now, money that we desperately need.) I’m told the conversation went a little something like this:

  • Mom: So. How are you doing on saving money now that you have a job?
  • Gerbil: [angrily] You know I don’t have any money!
  • M: Well, I thought with a job you’d …
  • G: No! I don’t have any!
  • M: Well, where is it all going?
  • G: You know I don’t make hardly anything. And every penny I make goes to bills.
  • M: So you’ve been working for weeks now and you don’t have any money?
  • G: [shrieking] What do you want? Do you want to see me swinging from the end of a fucking rope? Is that what you want? I’ve got nothing!
  • M: What? No. God no! Why are you saying things like that?
  • G: [angrily stomps out of our house and slams our front door]

I have dubbed this behavior the “proactive conversation blocking technique.” It is a tactic the gerbil employs often. The gerbil knows that nothing freaks out his mother more than dropping vague and angry little suicidal hints. Or, as in this case, not so vague. “Swinging from the end of a rope” is pretty frickin’ clear. So he employs this little tactic and the discussion he finds so uncomfortable is over and he usually follows up with storming out of the house.

I can only hope stuff like this keeps going and going and going and never ends so I’ll always have something to write about. Yeah, that would be good.

22 responses

  1. Unsolicited advice: Tell him that he can use the family phone for one more week (or whatever length of time is reasonable, but there must be some notice) but after that he’ll need to find another phone. Ditto the bike. Then stick to it. He’ll find another way.

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    1. Pamela, thanks. Your advice is always solicited by default! And it is excellent. Our biggest problem is probably that we’re too damn soft. Hard to imagine, I know. So the advice is excellent but easier said that done. I’ll do my damn best. πŸ™‚

      And I’ve still got the Ewok song in my hand from when we got The Key. πŸ™‚

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  2. Being consistant and letting the actions bring consequences, good or bad, is the hardest thing of all, but it works. I know because I have two gerbils myself.

    If by history, they know that they will be bailed out, they will keep coming for more. The key is to let the little critter know that you are allowing him to suffer the consequences of his actions because you love him enough to stop his detrimental behavior that will cause his future life to always ‘not’ be as good as it should and can be”.

    Set boundaries and stick to them and don’t let the little critter’s manipulative comments sway you. All this must be tempered with your assurance that this is not easy for you but you’re doing it for his good in order to help him learn responsibility, again because you love him. It’s a little harder when they’re older if there is no history of this, but it can be accomplished with love.

    I will be praying for this situation that the little gerbil will come to his senses and see the light and for you and your wife to have wisdom to know what to do.

    It’s hard!

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    1. I hear the wisdom in your words. It is hard, damn hard. The bottom line is we’re a couple of weenies. And I’m not kidding about the suicidal act. It’s one of the many tools in his shed, one he doesn’t hesitate to employ at a moment’s notice and use on his own mother.

      I’m 99.9% sure that our little follower (that is his most pronounced trait) is a happy-go-lucky hedonist and happy as a clam most of the time. But when he interacts with us he switches to one of his many acts and adopts a totally different persona. It’s a defense mechanism and proactive deflection technique for the critter. We’re not going to come down on him so easily when he’s playing the part of a wounded and troubled youth. That’s more likely to produce a “mommy with a band-aid and a blanket with a bowl of soup” response. And the clever little bastard knows it!

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      1. Pretend you’re a neutral observer or referee. Be supportive and firm. “We know this is hard for you, but as your parents we must do what we think is best. We trust your ability to make good decisions.” That last sentence is key. Just keep repeating it. “We know you can figure this out. We have confidence in you.”

        And no arguing or yelling or asking about money. He knows he owes you. He needs to figure out his path first. Oh, and about the wounded youth? “What we’ve done hasn’t helped and we’re sorry. That’s why we need to try a different way. If you want to talk to someone about the “depression (or whatever)”, we’ll look for a therapist.” He won’t be interested, but it takes you out of the role.

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  3. You know what? I proclaim you the “Gerbil Whisperer.” Are you free to visit our nest? πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the awesome comments!

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    1. If this is for me, I’ll take it!

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      1. Darn WordPress comment nesting. Yes, it was for you! πŸ™‚

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  4. Love the intro. Sounds like you need to be tougher, but I don’t know anything πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I find it kind of funny that your biggest Tag Cloud is “poop”.

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    1. Thanks for the props on the intro. I was rather tickled by that. πŸ™‚

      And thanks also for noticing “poop” in the tag cloud. Per my “id” page:

      What I post about will be as wildly varied as the thoughts that zing through my brain. It is my ongoing commitment to you, however, to do whatever it takes to always keep the word β€œpoop” as my number one tag. That’s very important and I’m just not willing to compromise my bloggeristic standards in that area.

      So I can assure you it is 100% intentional and it takes a lot of work. πŸ™‚

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      1. Brilliant. I’m keeping you to your word.

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  5. By the way… I love the way you write. You are quite the ‘entertaining’ blogger!!!! Love the ‘darth vader episode theme thingy!” Brilliant. Hope everything gets better for you and yours!

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    1. Aw, thanks! I was seriously laughing my ass off when I was writing that. It really floated my boat and what not. I have to admit my wife gets a skosh irritated with me when I spend so much time laughing at my own stuff. I can always count on the fact that at least I’ll amuse myself. πŸ™‚

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  6. unabridgedgirl | Reply

    * Hugs to Mrs. Abyss* I can’t imagine saying anything like that to my parents.

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    1. Thanks! It is very bewildering when we get the angry gerbil response. It’s like saying, “Sure, I’ll use you for free food and lodging, but you better be careful not to irritate me!”

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  7. First of all, yo’re bloody AWESOME for that first little red bit of writing. I’m such a Star Wars nerd, and that made me laugh and grin like a madwoman.

    Second: “I can only hope stuff like these keeps going and going and going and never ends so I’ll always have something to write about. Yeah, that would be good.” I sense a SMALL note of sarcasm here… Perhaps you need some anger management as well? After all, the gerbil is of course a very heroic, misunderstood victim, is he not?

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    1. Aw, thanks! I really enjoyed writing that Star Wars opening. I can almost taste that yellow text floating out into the blackness of space. Can’t you? πŸ™‚

      I loved writing that. It’s one of those rare moments where something magical happened. πŸ™‚

      You caught that sarcasm (and just a bit of bad grammar that has since been fixed), eh? πŸ™‚

      Goddammit, yes, I needs me some motherfucking anger management! Who knew? πŸ™‚

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  8. […] Regular visitors to Abyssia will already know that The Key was obtained from the gerbil about eight days ago. We were so happy we celebrated with some Ewok Karaoke. But then the dark times came as documented in The Gerbil Strikes Back. […]

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  9. My heart really hurts for you – I can’t imagine what you are going through. I was thinking of Tough Love as I was reading this – heck, maybe even an intervention. I don’t know – but I sure hope something gives soon.

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    1. Thanks! πŸ™‚

      He just lied to our faces yesterday. Now we get to figure out how to deal with that. More fun!

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      1. This is good news. Whenever you set limits, things always get worse before they get better. So he is testing you – that’s normal!

        Tell him that you know he has a key (There’s no need to use the word “lie,” The calmer you are, the better – he will see that you are serious and different) and that you want it back. Tell him if he does not return it within X period of time, there will be consequences. And also that the same consequences will apply if you find evidence of him in your house without permission (in case he makes another copy). You don’t need to know what the consequences are yet – you have time to figure that out.

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