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Ideas Needed

R. S. Martin

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Here's the situation. I live in the basement of a private home. We're pretty close quarters. Can't come or go without being noticed. Well, most of the time.....


Daughter (about age 20) moves out after temper tantrum of the decade. Mom is very seriously upset at this turn of events. She confides in me about many of her problems with the daughter. Daughter was adopted from Korea in the second half of her first year. I don't like her. Can't connect with her at all.


I think mom's a control freak but I daren't tell her that. I like living here. I like the mom. She's pretty far from perfect. I get along with her mainly by agreeing with everything she says then doing things my own way. She never notices stuff. She obsesses with a single thing and then forgets it ever happened. I do connect with her on a pretty deep level.


Tues. afternoon about 5:00 Mom comes downstairs saying she just got home from being gone since about 10:30 am. She asked for a report on her daughter--was she in today? A loaf of bread is missing. Daughter says she took it when she was in in the morning. Mom is suspicious and wants concrete evidence that daughter was not in while she (mom) was gone.


I am surprised to hear that she had been gone all day. I had heard voices chatting and having a pleasant time. I thought there was a male voice and two female voices. There's no male living here but there's the daughter's dad who sometimes comes over and the daughter's boyfriend. And the mom's brother. Plus I don't know all her friends. I figured she had company over.


She says she was gone and I assume that's correct. I never check up on people. I figure I pay to live here and I mind my own business.


So much for minding my own business. It's 5:00 Tues. afternoon. Mom is on the steps asking for names and times and genders. I feel like I am being interogated by the police. She questions and cross-questions me until I don't know if I remember or imagine stuff. She comes a second time after some more communication with daughter, just to verify evidence from my side. I go along with it.


Then I put it out of my mind. Not my kid. Not my house. Not my problem. Mom goes to conference for Wed. and Thurs. and forbids daughter to enter house while she (mom) is gone. Comes back about 8:00 pm (tonight) and wants a report. Easy. Never noticed anything. Apparently that corresponds with daughter's report.


Mom talks again about Tues. We're on the front porch because she got home just as I was going out and I wanted to say hi to her; she likes being acknowledged and I want to be on friendly terms with her. Neighbours could hear. Has she no self-respect? Oh well, I try to keep my voice down and not talk more than I have to. Mom tells me daughter gave her enough evidence that she trusts she is telling the truth and was not in on Tues. aft. I say fine. I think What do I care who it was. Mom talks to me about me having heard footsteps. I tell her I am talking about voices. Not footsteps. Later I think: We had quite a heat wave on Tues. Maybe the neighbours were on their deck.


So here's the problem:


Mom makes me promise to check next time I hear something--to check to see whether anyone's shoes were in the front hall. I say: Then I will have to know when you're gone. Mom says no, just when you hear something.


I think: What the heck!?! So next time I hear you cooking or doing the dishes I have to go check for shoes??? Next time you have company over I have to go see whose shoes they are???


Crazy! I refuse to take that level of responsibility. I don't even have a right to go into their part of the house. But I promised because that is the ONLY way to get along with her.What I need now is excuses for why I did not notice anything "next time." I'm sure she means next time she notices something suspicious. That's like I have to know what constitutes as suspicious in her mind. As anyone knows, I can't do that. However, there is no way I can explain to her that I can't do it. She is incapable of comprehending that level of abstract thinking. I've tried it many, many, many a time. I always resort to white lies and empty promises.


What I need now is excuses as to why I never noticed anything. Because, you can count on it, I'm going to not notice stuff anymore. I'm going to be too tied up in my own stuff to notice what the neighbours are doing. In my mind, she's a neighbour but I'm not sure I can get that into her head. I could suggest perhaps she needs to get new locks put on her doors. She's thinking of doing that so all I'd be doing is confirming what she is thinking anyway.


I can't go through a repeat of the Tues. incident and the grueling interogation. Any advice? Any ideas? What kind of white lies and excuses do you think work to keep me uninvolved?

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You're attending college, right? Surely you have homework from time to time. :)


Also, you can use the old doing research at the library excuse if you need to be someplace else.

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I guess an extreme measure would be to find another place. But being a college student, I don't think that's quite an option. Perhaps you can stay with a friend? Or a group of friends, changing places every few nights?


If I were you I'd make myself as scarce as possible. That way you won't have to explain why you're not willing to act as Big Brother around the landlady's daughter.

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Sounds like some good suggestions. Make myself scarce and be too busy to notice. Go for walks. Go to the library. Have meetings and appointments. I'm in and out. Anything could happen without me finding out about it.

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