Monday, August 18, 2008

Helen and Cliffy - Part 2

Continued from last Friday, here's the second part of my post about Helen and little Cliffy..

The next day Amy told me that Helen had called her.

"What!?" I exclaimed. "We just saw her yesterday and already she's asking for more advice? Or does she have another crisis for us, or what?"

"She just wanted to say thanks for yesterday. She said you're nice. And she thinks you're funny."


"And Cliffy likes you, too."

"How can he like me? He's a baby. He doesn't even know what's going on. What did he do, speak all of a sudden? His first words weren't dada or mama but, 'I like Rickie?'"

"Now, no need to be sarcastic. She just said he likes you."

"Hmph. Well I hope we're done with all that."

But you can probably guess we weren't yet done with Helen and Cliffy. Imagine if I had said, "and indeed we were done because the next day Helen and Cliffy flew overseas and we never saw them again. The end." That would make it too simple.

So again, as you can probably guess, we spent more time lending ears and advice to Helen. Problems with her parents, problems with Cliffy's father, problems with Cliffy, it never ended.

One thing in particular festered and Helen kept returning to it. Both she and her sister were adopted, which explained why they looked nothing alike. Cathy repeatedly told her that her birth mother must have been some really horrible person and Helen had inherited her personality and character from her.

"Do you think that's why I'm the way I am?" Helen would ask us over and over.

Over and over she got back the same reply from both Amy and me. "I doubt it."

Ultimately she'd turn to me and say how much she respected my opinion, and ask what I thought. Maybe she did this because she knew I always padded my answers enough to make a soft landing on her. "She wants you to be there, too," Amy would tell me. "She wants to hear what you have to say."

Finally instead of the Asian way of tact, diplomacy and skating around the issue, I told her she had to stop looking for excuses. And I told her what I had thought of her when we were in high school and how when Amy said she wanted to meet with us that I had raised a terrible fuss, and, well, I said what was on my mind and held none of it back.

I wasn't mean or angry about it; I was simply matter-of-fact. After these rerun discussions I had come to see her as a person that I was talking with face to face instead of behind her back, and things were not black and white as I had painted them when howling my protests to Amy about how she was wasting time on her friend. Gurgling Cliffy didn't help matters either as I got more attached to him.

My description of the way I reacted to Helen's calls to Amy before I entered the picture surprised her, but the rest of what I said didn't.

"You felt that way?" She asked soberly.

I felt guilty for the cursing I had done about her but kept reminding myself there was a reason for it. She'd been the queen B in high school and all these problems she faced hadn't just appeared from nowhere. But still..

"I did feel that way," I replied. "I did, but after these talks we've had, either you've changed or I must have pegged you wrong."

"I'm trying to change," she said.

Finally things did begin to change with Helen, and for the better. As she improved, we saw her less frequently and eventually she met a guy who treated her and Cliffy very well. Soon they were married and the last I heard, she was living a much happier life.

Cliffy would be in his mid-thirties now and I imagine he's not called Cliffy any more.


kmiyake said...

you wrote this at 6 in the morning? oh jeez

Rickie Miyake said...

Look at the recent posts - they're almost all 6:00 am! I write 'em and then set them to post automatically at that time. So we're even - I am usually up at 6 and you're usually just getting to sleep at that time, haha..