Troubled by the downturn? Nuns are the feeling the pain too. In a failed attempt to pump my Aunt Ro for mamaquest leads, we danced around the subject of my mom and managed to avoid the topic all together. My first call was not a total bust. I did hear about how her order lost a lot of money in the stock market because of the recession, a story clearly being overlooked: Nuns Forced to Wear Last Year’s Habits: WSJ Exclusive. No takers?
Technically I failed to procure any information. She was so happy to hear from me. ‘Hey remember when your sister died’ didn’t seem like an appropriate topic. I could sense her age over the phone. The young nun playing devil’s advocate with the hopes and dreams of many was a now holding onto a dormant flicker of her once passionate crusade to end ambition. Perhaps my memory of her negativity is inaccurate. Doubtful. But possible. Maybe the passing of my mom affected a positive change in her. It’s anyone’s guess. Either way I took down her email address and hope to work in a few probing questions in the e-messages to come.
On the upside she brought up some real Brother Bill gems. One of the best things about my Aunt Ro is that a couple times a year my dad gets to kick back while she houses the menacing Brother Billy. Blind people can be menacing. Don’t judge me. In passing she mentioned that he had lost a lot of weight, saying ‘Billy tells me [Brother] Mike really watches what he eats. I guess he can’t trick Mike the way he does with his personal assistants.’ Flashback!
You need back story. The state government pays for someone to come out to the house a few hours a week to help him do his laundry, prepare his lunches for work, etc. Bill started calling these kind souls his staff. Me included. When I was in high school, I did a few of the hours because it’s hard to find people. In my presence he has referred to me and neighborhood kids we’ve known for 10 years as his staff. People in the staff, because he’s blind, I’m not going to sugarcoat this, get played.
Brother Bill knows how to win people over. There’s a Dale Carnegie spin-off in here somewhere. Maybe… Unsuspecting Brother Bill Influence: How to Take Over the World One Sandwich at a Time. His methodology starts with, “Oh so-and-so staff member, you are so nice to me. You are doing an excellent job.” He slowly turns these innocents into confidants. Then the knife to my back. “My sister, Lauren, she never lets me have cookies. I beg her and beg her and I tell her cookies are my absolute favorite and that I only want one, but she just doesn’t care. She wants all the cookies for herself!” It’s really a double win because people start to think I’m neglecting my blind brother, meanwhile Bill’s living the Cosmo Kramer high life.
Over the years, Brother Bill, with the aid of his staff, allowed things into our house that my mother NEVER would have. Cheetos! Snack packs! This is a sacrilege in the Muscarella household, which was built on lentil soup, carob brownies, and steamed collard greens. If you want to gain weight in that house, you need to actively try.
And he did.
After a while, my concerned dad went down to his gym and talked about doing personal training packages for Billy because clearly his current regime was not sufficient. My dad was shocked, no not shocked. My dad unwittingly stumbled upon a classic Brother Bill Deception (TM). Turns out the treadmill and the bike don’t work when you trick your staff into giving you an extra Lincoln for power bars and energy drinks!
So while I’m really no closer to my goal, Billy has inspired me with the memory of his trickery. In my email to Aunt Ro, I will shower her with compliments, lure her into my inner circle and instead of sandwiches, my currency will be information. It’s stealthy. We’ll see what shakes out.