Yep, it's hopeless.

My mom will never stop telling that anecdote.

Figured the thread was a bit too old to bump, so I linked it. Mr. Rilch and I were on a flying visit this weekend, so my parents could finally meet his dad and dad’s wife. Saturday night, we went out to eat with my parents, and my mom told it again.

It was the oddest trigger, too. Mr. Rilch mentioned someplace where his dad used to live, and that reminded my mom that my niece’s grandfather lived there briefly, which led directly into The Anecdote. :dubious: This time, I tried the Miss Manners suggestion: “Why do you insist on telling that anecdote when you know it upsets me?” and was told, “Well, you can leave the table if you don’t want to hear it.”

I didn’t, of course. But what killed me was that, the whole time she was telling it, it was not “Rilchie did this; Rilchie said that,” addressed to RilchDad and Mr. Rilch. It was “YOU did this; YOU did that,” addressed to me, as if I’d never heard it before. :confused:

But I think a lot of this has to do with her simply being a Cranky Old Woman. She also, during the meal, explicitly called my dad a bad husband. :eek: I countered that he had always been a good provider, and that they’d had a nice house, and some other stuff I don’t want to go into. She did concede to that. Still, :eek:

The next morning was the In-Laws Brunch. Well, sort of, because as I said, it was FIL and his wife; MIL has yet to meet my parents. Per Mr. Rilch’s suggestion, I said to my mom, before we went in, “Let’s present a unified front.” Well, she either didn’t hear me, didn’t care, forgot or didn’t know what I meant. The meal went well for the most part, but RilchMom:

—Noted, when we were being seated, that there was one space left on RilchDad’s side of the booth, and said, “Oh, do I have to sit with HIM?” So I took that spot.

—Noted, when FILWife was introduced, that although she and I share a name, I was “the first RilchWife!” FILWife, who is not noted for her sense of humor, replied, “No, actually, I was the first.” Hoo boy. Well, she is older than I am, so she had the first name before I did. I was, wedded to Mr. Rilch before the nuptials of FIL and FILWife, but it was still tacky of RilchMom to bring it up.

—Amended, “Forever!” to RilchDad’s admission that he was retired.

“But he teaches at the community college occasionally,” I said, though I knew what she was getting at.

“No, I mean, forever! I want him OUT of the house!”

“Hey, I got a joke for you guys! [Rilch tells joke that ends with “It’s better to quit when you’re a head,” which ties in with RilchDad’s earlier observations about people who dig themselves into a hole in the casinos because they won’t quit when they’re ahead.]”

—Also, it’s a minor thing, but although we’d told her that FIL’s name is Federico*, not Frederick, she still called him Frederick before he, or Mr. Rilch, or myself, could give his name. I covered that one by mentioning RilchDad’s cousins Albert and Alfred**, who are distinguished as a) Pennsylvania Al and Ohio Al, b) Rose’s Al and Lucy’s Al, c)Al the Dentist and Al the Plumber or simply d) Al Lastname and Al OtherLastname.

All in all, I think it went well, but I really wish she’d left her dirty laundry at home. I mean, RilchDad didn’t go off on a computer tangent, nor did FIL go off on a golf tangent, so why couldn’t she have played nice.

*Okay, it’s not even Federico. But it’s a traditional Italian name, not to be confused with the similiar-sounding American name.

**Also not their names, but you get the idea.

Judging by the fact she seems to be using The Anecdote in a passive-aggressive manner (I read the old thread as well), it’s going to be hard to fight it. If you want to get nasty, talk about how you learnt it, in detail - whether it was during family arguments or what not.

If you don’t want to get nasty and she’s not responding to Miss Manners approach, cry. It’s emotional blackmail, so it kind of is fighting fire with fire. But fire fighters tend to use water so persist with a nice approach.

That is, of course, if you can still be bothered to fight her. Good luck!

Passive-agresive, indeed.

My mom *still can’t * remember, after 30 years of increasingly desperate reminding, that I don’t drink coffee, but weak tea. Everytime I visit her, she offers me coffee. And it’s not due to old age: she’s 66 now, but she has never bothered to remember I don’t drink coffee. Yet this same woman is smart enough to have held a good job and she is still organized enough to have recently supervised the building of her house.

I have often wondered why I can’t let it go, why the whole freaking coffeething *keeps * bothering me. I can and do make my own tea when I’m there, and anyway, I visit my mom increasingly less.

Now I think it keeps bothering me because it has become a *symbol * of what is wrong in the relationship between me and my mom. Everytime that happens it reminds me of the emotional baggage swept under the carpet.

I guess the Anecdote may have become a symbol too. I wonder what it symbolises for RilchMom. My WAG is The Anecdote tells the audience that the guilt for exposing little Rilch to the Bad Word isn’t hers because little Rilch picked up the Bad Word all by herself, so she is a Good Mum, and even made LittleRilch apologize afterwards. That may be why she told it at dinner with the inlaws, to show them she is a Good Mum.

You cannot change the wind. Only adjust your sails.

No, no! She didn’t tell it to the inlaws! She defamed my father* in front of the inlaws. The Anecdote is a separate issue.

But you bring up a good point. Perhaps her reason for telling it is to assuage the embarrassment and guilt she felt for having a kid who knew and used the Bad Word. Still, for crying out loud. Half the people who were at that dinner were dead, and the rest don’t care, or, like me, don’t remember.

Shirley, I understand what you’re saying, but I’ve decided that I can live with The Anecdote. What bothers me is the larger pattern I laid out, of her shooting off her mouth with no regard as to whether or not anyone wants to hear it. I don’t know what FIL and FILWife thought of her comments, and if I asked, which I won’t, but if I did, they would probably laugh it off. Still, it’s not their business, and certainly not their problem, and I don’t think it’s funny. And I feel bad for my dad, having to be the object of that. Which is why I…not exactly stick up for him, since my mom not liking him is not an issue that can be debated, but basically shush her. When I was a kid, my dad would always take care not to make a scene in front of me, and I’d like to return the favor.

*Although she did insult RilchDad at dinner as well. Now that was just my parents and me and Mr. Rilch, but I didn’t appreciate it then, either.

This is only a suggestion. Take what you want from it and do what you think is best.

If this happened to me with my mother I would take her aside and say, “Look, Mom, you know I don’t like it when you tell this anecdote about me when I’m there. I’ve asked you to stop, but you continue to tell it anyway. Why do you insist on embarrassing me?”

At the very least, when you play this card it will make it known to her that you are embarrassed by it. It might even get an explanation from her as to why she insists on continuing to tell it. If it doesn’t, or if she just simply refuses to believe that this is embarrassing for you, then I would say this, “Mom, I love you, but I want you to stop telling this story to people. Regardless of whether you think it’s funny or not, you are hurting me every time you do this. Is that what you really want?”

Make her accountable for her actions and explain them to you. She’s behaving like an 8 year old. Sometimes she needs to be treated like one.

Dragwyr, I have done that. It didn’t work. So be it.

What I’m more concerned with is the way she’s treating my dad. I did tell her, on the phone last night, that I’m uncomfortable with her tearing him down, and she said, essentially, “Well, I’m sick of him! Who am I supposed to talk to about it?”

“Do you talk to Marcia [oldest daughter who lives 10 minutes away] about it?”

“She’s tired of hearing it!”

"[loaded silence]

“…I just personally don’t like to hear you talk about him that way–”

And from there, we got into a morass of history that none of you guys want to hear about any more than I want to recap it. Suffice to say that I did bring the discussion back around to “I just wish you hadn’t said what you said in front of FIL and FILWife. We only had a short time together, and it may have made them uncomfortable to hear that you don’t want your husband around. Especially since they married so late in life, and are planning on being together until their numbers are called.” I was careful not to phrase it in terms of “making a good impression,” because that’s another thing that gets her back up: anyone implying that the impression she makes is more important than the impression others make on her. (Do you see a pattern here? :rolleyes: ) So I think that got through to her, and hopefully she won’t pull this again if/when she meets MIL.

(It’s not even a matter of her telling The Anecdote to other people, since my dad and Mr. Rilch have already heard it and never held it against me. If anything, it’s the way she directs it at me, like maybe it’s her way of saying, “You were a little bitch right from the beginning.” But I could never beat her in the bitchery department, obviously.)

Obtain a small pocket sized notebook. Estimate how many times you have heard this story in your lifetime, and start from that number.

Next time you have to endure this story, take out your notebook, make a hash mark, and say “Thank you for telling that story for the 963rd time, Mom, because you know, 962 times wasn’t really enough.” “But by my count, Aunt Lisa has only heard the story 123 times, so maybe you should tell it 5 more times here and now, so we can start to get Lisa caught up.”

You can also note the time, place, and who was present when she told the story. Then you can launch into your own story about all the inappropriate times she has told this story, about all the pathetic lead ins, How many times each person that was present had already heard the story, etc. By referring to you notes you could probably drag this out for over a half an hour, and if Mom tries to interupt, just steamroll her, and tell her that since she so loves telling the story, she should really enjoy reliving all of these moments.

Hell, it’s what I’d do.

Just hope your mom doesn’t get Alzheimer’s. Mine started fabricating this sort of crap from whole cloth. The ones about me I didn’t mind much, but the ones about how she and Dad were so happy really pissed me off. Dad often endured and suffered in silence in order to maintain a home for us kids, and I had little patience for the whitewashing of his quite agony.

My mother has the same style. Passive-aggressive put downs and oblique criticisms. It’s mostly in order to make herself feel good when she’s insecure with the company she’s in. I understand this but do not condone it.

Irregardless, I don’t tolerate it. If she acts like an 8 year old I treat her that way. Parental tone, insistence on rephrasing something politely et al. She has pretty much got the point that I won’t tolerate rudeness. It’s slightly strange at first doing things this way but in time it gets easier. You just have to get over the issue of openly challenging your parent. This is something which is trained out of us in childhood and it’s tricky to go against it. But I figure that anything I wouldn’t accept from Joe Bloggs I also don’t have to accept from someone related to me.

With regard to your father maybe a firmer approach is required. If she doesn’t like the guy then she’s an adult and should deal with it via counselling or divorce. Tell her to shit or get off the pot in other words. That way it puts the ball back in her court and means that you and Rilchdad and whoever else are not responsible for her actions. And it tells her this too. Repeat as required.

With regard to the anecdote…hell I’d just recall or make up an anecdote about her. Every time she tells her one you wait til she’s finished and then chime right in with yours. Make it embarrassing enough and eventually she’ll ask you to stop. At which point you can throw back all her arguments (‘but it’s funny’) until she gets the point.

Good point.

Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. That might lead her to the conclusion that if she really wanted to be apart from him, she would have done it years ago. She hasn’t, so there’s something that keeps her there.

Heh. I was actually thinking that, the next time I see her, I should say, “Why don’t you tell the story now and get it over with? I’ll go powder my nose in the meantime.” It might fall flat if I’m not present to have my nose rubbed in it, speaking of noses, and that would take the wind out of her sails.

Or, why don’t you tell the anecdote before she does, next time? You can make it a little friendlier to yourself while you’re at it.

I get the feeling she is the type of person that would try to take over the telling of the story:
“Oh no. It wasn’t that. You said THIS…”

I like Kevbo’s idea as well as zelie zelerton’s. Anything that puts it back in her face that you have had enough of it, but at the same time has you still being completely polite about it at the same time.

Yeah, I don’t think this is just an embarassing story Mom tells thing.

I agree that she is totally twisting the knife.

But never forget that as long as she can get a rise out of you then she owns a part of your soul ! No matter what emotional response this story produces in you, you must feign utter indifference, smile, shake your head a little and ignore it.

This may cause her to repeat it more often, initially.

Wait it out, each time, without reaction. When she finishes, (long pause, leave her hanging for that response), in your softest, gentlest voice, point out that her need to repeat this story again and again speaks more to who she is today than who you were at 4.

Go right back to pleasant conversation without missing a beat.

You may find it stops, either way, good luck to you!

Here’s what I think you should do: every time you talk to her, begin (or end) the conversation by telling The Anecdote yourself. “Hey Mom, remember that time I…” blah blah blah. Recount it to her exactly as she recounts it to you. If she interrupts or tries to tell it herself, just keep on going. Only tell it once per conversation, but keep telling it. Pretty soon, you’ll “own” the story and she will no longer be able to relish it.

I suppose I have no horse in this, but it seems obvious that your mom is no saint. You’ve tried being nice and it just didn’t work. Subtlety and Diplomacy are lost on her, so load up and use both barrels.

There must be 2 dozen events of her life that could be easily and nastily crafted into vicous gossipy family-gathering stories. Stories like “Remember that time that I came home from school and found you wrestling with the plumber on yours and Daddy’s bed…?” or “You know, I never could get the smell out of that BMW after you had that ‘accident’ on that long trip to name a destination You’d think that ‘Depends’ could make a leak-proof model by now…” or “Remember that time I came home from that party back when I was in school, and you were So Drunk that I had to help you up the stairs to bed…? I Swear, you were singing Sea Shanties…!”

Once Mommy gets a good taste of her own Cod Liver Oil, you’ll be amazed how fast she stops telling tales.

I would get up and leave and go home.

Thanksgiving dinner? Christmas? Wedding? anytime, I’d tell her if she continues she obviously doesn’t respect you and why should you even bother with her company. It will be dramatic and hard to do at first but, if someone is that bent on causing you pain and embarrassment why would you even want to continue in their company?

Eventually she’ll knock it off, the family pressure may help or, she won’t, but you will not be there and it won’t matter what she says.

I’ve had simular problems in my family and this is what worked for me.

That was my thought. I’d even give her the opening “well, you can leave the table if you don’t want to hear it.”

“You know, you are right. Come on dear, lets go. Dad, we are going to head out for coffee, want to come?”

Kev, this is the approach I’d take as well. My husband had a penchant for telling an anecdote about something small (really - it was no big deal, he thought it was funny/cute, but I hated him talking about it - it embarrassed me!) to our friends/family, and that’s just about what I did to make him stop. I made like I was making a note about him telling it again and made a snarky comment - and the point was made. He hasn’t done it again.

I doubt Rilch’s mom will come around that quick, but hey - she can have a lot of fun with this at her mom’s expense anyway. :smiley:

I could do that, yeah. Or I could do another thing she used to do to me. Back when she was a daily drinker, I was often the Invisible Kid. Anything outside that bubble was just a faint buzzing sound. I well remember her demeanor, and if I could recreate that, so that she doesn’t exist for me when she’s telling the story…well, it might not change what she does, but it would insulate me. And it wouldn’t make another scene for my dad to deal with.

This is getting scary. Are you me? :frowning: