I’m ripping off Berkeleyist and offering an advice column. Here’s a little He Said/She Said from Spots and Big Chris, with a question stolen from Dear Abby:
Dear Beth and Chris:
My mother was murdered by a serial killer about 16 years ago. Whenever the subject of parents comes up at work, I don't know what to tell people when they ask about my mom.
I am 26. Once in a while, they will ask me about what happened to her, but when I open my mouth to say something, I get nervous and start blushing. This might be because I know people get uncomfortable when you talk about stuff like this. I also feel weird telling them that my mother was a prostitute and that's how she was murdered. Sometimes I say she was in an "accident" -- but that's a lie.
Can you give me any advice on the proper way to discuss this in the office without it being weird for me or the other person?
-- MOTHERLESS DAUGHTER IN WASHINGTON
As one fascinated by serial killers (and, incidentally, feral children) I’d be interested to know all the gory details of your mother’s murder if it’s not too painful.
More importantly, we need to find a way for you to explain how your mom died without totally freaking everyone out. First of all, just accept that it’s always going to be weird for you and anyone you end up telling. We’ve all got weird shit in our background that occasionally comes up. This is yours. There’s no way of saying, “My mother was a murdered by a killer on a rampage while working her corner” without making everyone wildly uncomfortable.
Thus, as far as I’m concerned, saying she was in “an accident” is fine by me. She WAS. How about the cryptic and mysterious “She was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” or “It’s none of your fucking business.” I think those are perfectly acceptable.
Because it’s not a lie to withhold incredibly personal and painful information from a co-worker. It’s called professionalism. Shut up and bury your pain like the rest of us.
Here's my advice:
The honest option is to just tell the truth. "My mom was hooker and murdered by a serial killer." I'll bet you my life savings no one ever asks you a personal question ever again.
The easiest option is to just say my mom died when I was young, I don't really remember her etc. I was raised by _________ . This should gain you major sympathy points especially around your birthday, holidays, mother's day, and so on.
Now if I was in your situation here's what I would do. First of all is this serial killer still out there preying upon prostitutes ? If the answer is no. see above. If the answer is yes, I would travel the world like young Bruce Wayne before he became Batman and hone my skills in fighting crime, eventually to be trained a by cult of ninjas led by Chuck Norris and return to the Washington Area and exact my revenge. I'd hunt down, torture, and take out the serial killer, and then, like Denzel in Man on Fire, I'm to do "what I do best. Kill 'em all. Anyone that was involved. Anyone who profited from it. Anyone who opens their eyes at me."
Then sell your rights for a screenplay about your life and sit back, relax, and enjoy the profits.