I’m Not a “Mug” …Anymore

Mug - en.wiktionary.org Mug - From oxforddictionaries.com

Mug from Oxford Dictionaries:

British informal A stupid or gullible person.

Mug from Wiktionary:

(UK, slang) A stupid or contemptible person.

When I first moved to the Washington, DC, area in the summer of 1993, I made a friend I’ll call Brittle Bird.  I was still a lesbian at the time, and was single, as was Brittle.  The initial thought was that we might find some romantic involvement, but Brittle was not my “type,” and I was not Brittle’s type (I don’t think).  I prefer my women huggable, but that’s just me.  And it’s just the superficial part, because honestly, I prefer the indefinables like kindness, compassion, and integrity.  I believed that Brittle had those qualities, but she still wasn’t quite my type.

But Brittle and I had some good conversations, lots of fun, and we became fast friends.  Around 1995, I’d hit the first turning point where I realized I needed to transition from female to male.  I was living on Social Security Disability Income after an endless string of eye surgeries.  I was ready to transition, but lacked the funds.   So my first order of business was to turn my bachelor’s degree in computer science into a remunerative career.  I talked to Brittle about these things, and she supported me 100%, though she didn’t understand why I was anguished at having to put off transitioning.

In 1996, I met my former partner, Kim.  I was keen to not let the new romance interfere with my friendship with Brittle, and so she was included in most things that Kim and I did, and I still spent one-on-one time with her.  We went to movies, out to eat, and we played Scrabble games regularly.

Brittle Bird and Kim in our condo, with my peace lily, Gertrude, to the right.

Brittle Bird and Kim in our condo, with my peace lily, Gertrude, to the right.

Brittle Bird and Terry Outside of Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

Brittle Bird and Terry Outside of Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

Brittle Bird and Terry Outside Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

Brittle Bird and Terry Outside Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

Brittle Bird was “brittle,” a little too sensitive. At some point, Kim and I had not heard from Brittle in a couple of weeks, which was unusual.  So I telephoned her, and she said, “Oh, I’ve moved!  I’m in the middle of unpacking, and I’ll call you right back.”  We waited, but she never called.  When I tried her number again, it had changed with no new number given, and we had no idea where she’d moved to — so I “lost touch” with Brittle.

One day, I was riding the subway, and there she sat on my same train car!!  What are the odds in a major metropolitan area like Washington, DC?  Brittle said something about being sad we had lost touch, papering over the fact that we hadn’t “lost touch” — she’d gone missing.  But like a “mug,” I let her back in my life.

Many memories.  Brittle, Kim, and I went to protest the inauguration of George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential re-election, dressed in black and carrying black balloons.  First time ever Pennsylvania Avenue was fenced off and the bags of on-lookers were searched.  Brittle had bought a can of gourmet coffee on her way to our condo, and the can of coffee was confiscated as a “weapon” by security guards at the inaugural parade.  Me thinks, “If someone was going to lob a can of coffee at Bush’s bomb-proof shielded limousine, surely one would use the cheapest brand of coffee?”

When Kim and I took vacations or trips, we always, always took our dogs with us.  However, on one longer foray, we asked Brittle to dog-sit for us, as we trusted her.  We had a whiteboard hanging on the wall, and when we returned, we found that Brittle had carefully noted all the times she’d taken the dogs on walks, and the type of “business” they did!  But then she mentioned something she’d never told us before — how a dog of hers had escaped, and she hadn’t gone looking for it immediately, and it was killed by being run over by a car.

Brittle lived in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of DC, which was sketchy, at least back then.  We lived in the much more upscale Cleveland Park neighborhood because I was working and making good money.  When Brittle visited us to watch movies on Netflix or to play Scrabble, I made sure to suggest that Kim give her a ride home in our car so she wouldn’t have to walk the streets of Adams-Morgan after dark.

One day, Brittle was supposed to come to our home at a certain time, but she was late.  Kim and I were getting worried.  Then Brittle breathlessly arrived, explaining that she’d “seen a bust.”  We all stood silent, each puzzled.  How could “seeing a bust” make one late?  We’d all recently visited the Library of Congress where there are many metal busts of historical figures on display.  As we worked out our confusion, Kim admitted that when Brittle said “bust,” Kim thought she was somehow referring to the type of busts on display at the library.  Me, with a bit of a gutter-mind, when I heard “bust,” I thought boobs, breasts…  Still not comprehending how even the most luscious set of boobs could make one late.  Brittle clarified that she’d seen someone being arrested outside her apartment building for sale of illegal drugs.  And so we all laughed.

As I was saying, Brittle was “brittle.”  Her feelings were hurt by a supervisor, and so she resigned her job without having another job lined up.  I felt bad for her, and so I got her a good job doing quality assurance software testing at the company I worked for.  This would have been about 1998, give or take.  She lasted 6 months, and then resigned after hurt feelings again, and in truth, her supervisor was a bit harsh, but the computer field isn’t for the faint of heart.

I started formally transitioning in 2000, and Brittle and I were still friends.  Times were rough, and Kim and I were still together.  But then Kim and I broke up, I moved to Greenbelt and completed transitioning.  Brittle and I now lived too far apart to see each other except sporadically, when we contributed equally to her renting a Zipcar for a trip to the suburbs.  We talked on the telephone multiple times a week, though.  Brittle still had not found a job, and her savings was almost exhausted and she was on the brink of losing her home.  I wasn’t working either, now back on disability after various complications.

I told Brittle, “I don’t have enough money to support you, but as long as we are friends, you don’t have to worry about being homeless.  You can stay with me rent-free until you get your feet on the ground, no matter how long it takes.”  Brittle thanked me, but then her brother gave her enough money to tide her over for a long while.  I crossed paths with Paula, and when Paula came to the US and we got married, I made sure that Brittle was one of the people Paula met.  I was worried about how the two would get on.  Brittle was polite, but she was also one of the voices that warned me against Paula.  Brittle, like Kitt and all the others, was right.

In fact, when I was pushed to the point of overdose in November 2011, and was on life-support, Brittle was the person Paula called to find out about my last will, was Brittle aware of it, did she know where it was located?  (And then Paula went to an attorney to find out if our marriage would supersede my last will.)  Brittle and I emailed as much as possible while I was in England, but I had to be careful what I said because I was always monitored by Paula.

Brittle was one of two people I thought might take me in before I reached the point of overdose.  My other friend, R, had aging cats, and so even if I could have gotten my dog over, staying with him was not a good option.  But Brittle had a dog of her own, and our dogs got along well, and so if I could have gotten me and Otis back across the ocean, things would have been fine in the canine world.  But Thanksgiving was imminent, and R was going to Jamaica for his son’s wedding, and Brittle… well, she had another guest coming on December 1st, so I could only have stayed with her for a few days.  Thus, the overdose was the only “way out” I saw….

Once I got back to the US in a state of trauma in May 2012, after the overdose, the death of my mother, the death of my dog in Paula’s care, and the domestic violence, I reached out to Brittle.  Brittle had had an interview, and it looked like she might finally be getting a job.  But out of the blue, she told me she had something “personal” going on, and she couldn’t talk to me for at least a year.  I was hurt and puzzled, and thinking, “Again???”  But I didn’t question and honored her wishes.  A year later, in 2013, I emailed Brittle to ask if things had gotten better for her.  She never replied, though I can see she is still active on social networks.  A 20-year friendship, vanished, without explanation.

I really don’t understand why people are the way they are.  The ones you think are true are not and the ones you’re not sure about sometimes turn out to be the best.  I’ve never “disappeared” on anyone without explanation, and I’ve stuck by friends in hard times.  I sometimes wonder what “friendship” is…  But I’m not a mug any more, and if someone fails to honor the promises they have made to me, I do not feel obliged to honor the promises I’ve made to them.  Fair is fair, and there will be a post forthcoming unless I hear something mitigating….  Trust is precious, but it goes both ways.  I now trust in myself more than I trust in anyone else.





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About DogDharma

Dog Dharma is written by a human who loves dogs and who believes dogs have attained enlightenment. The human behind Dog Dharma came from humble origins, has faced many trials, enjoyed many adventures, and taken a path less traveled. He claims no special privilege or expertise, and remains humble. Dog Dharma‘s author has learned a few things along the way, and has much yet to learn. He has been told by many people that he has a talent for writing, and aspires to write a book, but is a little too lazy and disorganized, so his blog will suffice for now. He opens a window into his life in the hope that some of his words may be of comfort, some may be a beacon or warning, and perhaps he will connect with like-minded souls. Everything shared comes from a place of openness and honesty, but with no claim that he possesses the Truth. People and places mentioned should be taken as pseudonyms. In many cases, details may be an amalgamation of actual events disguised to protect the “innocent.” Nothing written is to be taken as actual fact, but as the author of Dharma Dog‘s limited understanding. From the mouths of the Beatles: In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make
This entry was posted in British slang, friendship, mug, trust and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to I’m Not a “Mug” …Anymore

  1. mandy says:

    I’ll say you’re not a “mug” anymore! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. DogDharma says:

    Mandy, your comments make me smile, and I don’t even know why. I can’t even think of a good response! Maybe I need a t-shirt that says,

    I’m not a mug,
    Gimme a hug.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mandy says:

      Oh, I’m glad I stopped by to look at your blog and saw your replies–for some reason, when I comment on your blogs, your replies don’t come in to my notifications. Hmmm…

      Anyway, I had never heard of the term “mug”, but your post was a great visual for me to see, “Yep–I’m a mug, too!” or should I say, WAS a mug! I used to just say I had “sucker” written across my forehead. I still have to be careful–amazing how even when you’ve been “taken” so many times, you still want to believe in people. Ok, maybe I’ll have a little “mug” in me forever. Argh….


  3. DogDharma says:

    It’s hard to become completely “de-mugged,” Mandy. I’m not sure it is the entirely the point. Once we’ve been “mugged” time and time again, we would like to be “de-mugged,” but being kind and compassionate is what it’s all about. I think the lesson to learn is when to let loose the “mug.” Some people are users and they will take with no concern for the person they are “mugging.” Others may just be in dire straits and in genuine need of help, and appreciative. They might appear to be “muggers” because they are desperate, but it’s not their nature. It’s hard to discern one from the other sometimes. But that’s the task, and keeping in mind our own limits, and not putting ourselves at risk by giving too much. Ironically, I was almost “mugged” again last night, and I’m still looking for discernment. I wish I had a big mug of hot tea with lots of milk!!! 🙂

    PS: When you comment, theoretically you should see a line that says: “Notify me of new comments via email.” If you click the tick box, and WordPress is doing what it is supposed to do, you should get notifications of replies and other comments.


    • mandy says:

      There you go again–being smart 🙂 I didn’t get your reply here so I will click that teensy weensy box below, lol!

      I’m terribly sorry you were nearly “mugged” again. I can see it, though. You are so freaking nice, and it would be easy for someone to take advantage. I’m “too nice” too, and knowing that, I find it more comfortable to wrap myself up in the security of my little writing nook and protect myself! Argh again…How can I be out there being kind and compassionate to all the potential mugsters if I stay locked away?

      Sorry, I shouldn’t joke around. This is serious, and I guess I’m not really kidding around. I AM going to learn to trust. Maybe 🙂 A Mug of something might help.

      Liked by 1 person

      • DogDharma says:

        Mandy, you have a good heart, and if you have a good heart, it stands to reason that others do as well. Use your intuition and filter out the chafe, and you’ll get there. (I’m telling this to myself as well.) Don’t deprive yourself of the good souls who may have flaws, like all people do, but who will do their best to return your goodness. If you encounter someone who wants to “mug” you, offer them one of the “mugs” in my latter two photos. The words on them are also impolite Brit slang which you can Google. Those are the “mugs” they deserve. I joke around, but I’m serious, too. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • mandy says:

        Good advice, Terry. I know there are some awesome folks out there–and I’m slowly coming out of my shell! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Amost 20 Years? Really??? | Dog Dharma's Blog

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