January 15, 2008

A Rose by Any Other Name

It has been a while since I've posted here. That is probably a good thing since this space is usually where I post items that I can't post in the normal place because of who reads the normal site.

I'm hiding out and spilling my guts, okay?

So, for the dirty details about how Phoenix stepped in it this time, take the jump.


Some teenagers just suck.

For the record, she's 20 and no longer a teenager, but that is chronological. Emotionally, she's somewhere between 13 and 16 years old.

I speak, of course, of my sometimes darling, sometimes damning, half-sister. She is 14 years my junior. I'm a Gen-Xer, She's a Gen "Y not ME?!?" or Gen-Me, if you prefer.

She's in college and she's trying to pursue the rest of her life in between partying and hooking up with guys and playing video games.

My little sister, who I will refer to as Cilly in this story, came to stay with us for a few days over Christmas vacation. She wanted to spend some time with her niece and see us all. She knows that she generally has a better time with us (and eats better) than she does at home with our mother and stepfather. Which is fine, we don't mind having her.

Anyway, as we are driving home from the mall, she begins talking about some guy at school and she's speaking as though I should already know part of the story. I point out to Cilly that I'm not sure what she's talking about, hoping that she'll give me the backstory.

Cilly: Oh. Didn't I tell you? This guy, Scott - he's a new friend of mine. He's going to buy me an Xbox/Playstation/Wii/Whatever. (Forgive me for not remembering the details, I'm not a gamer.)

Phoenix: Why would he do that?

C: In exchange for 20 dates.


C: He's going to buy it for me in exchange for going out with him.

P: You are kidding right? This is a joke?

C: No.

P: How do you know this guy?

C: Well, I don't really know him. We've exchanged a few emails, but I've never met him. He's a friend of a friend.

P: ?!?

P: So, is he a student at school?

C: No, he's much older. He has a job. He's probably your age.

P: So this guy, who from all accounts is a perfect stranger, has offered to buy you a piece of equipment valued around $300 for 20 dates?

C: Right! Crazy huh?

P: And you have accepted?

C: Well, yeah! Of course!

P: So explain to me how this is different from what a prostitute does...

C: Why do you always have to be so negative?

P: Hey, I'm just trying to understand! I mean, if I told you that I knew a guy who would give you $300 cash to spend some time with you...would you do that too?


And, in typical teenage fashion, she quit speaking to me entirely. When we arrived back at home, she stormed off to her bedroom, logged on, and began im-ing the Mystery Man. A short while later, my husband informed me that Cilly had told him that I had called Cilly a "whore."

I quickly disabused him of his faulty information and told him the whole story. I asked him if he knew about the Mystery Man. He did indeed. I asked him if our daughter was the girl in question, how would he feel about it. He agreed that it was probably not wise of her to undertake this "bargain."

Ya think?

Even so, he urged me to talk to Cilly and clear the air. I informed him that she wasn't speaking to me. In any case, we did gather in the kitchen to discuss the situation.

She began by asking for an apology. I didn't feel that I had anything to apologize for.

C: You called me a WHORE!

P: No, I didn't.


P: No, again, I didn't. I asked you how what you were doing was different from the transaction that a prostitute would make. I was trying to point out to you that this is a dangerous and slippery slope.

C: So, you aren't sorry?

P: For what? I didn't do anything.


P: NO I DID NOT! The only person who has said that is you. The only person who is treating you like a whore is this guy - and you are letting him to do.

C: What are you talking about?

P: This guy thinks he can buy his time with you. You are letting him do it. Moreover, the price you have set him is incredibly cheap. It is barely minimum wage! If you are going to sell yourself, at least have the class to go for a higher price.

C: I am not selling myself. How can you say such a thing when you know the problems I went through last semester?

P: Why do you think you keep having these problems? Consider how it looks from a disinterested perspective: You are entering into an exchange of goods for services of a personal nature with someone you've never seen. Moreover, he's significantly older than you. A 30-something man who is chasing 20-year-old tail is only interested in one thing, and it isn't your strategy in some roll playing game or the way you handle the joystick. Frankly, he's interested in you handling his joystick. I'm sorry to say it so bluntly, but it is true. I've been on this earth slightly longer than you and seen first hand how the most innocuous of situations can get ugly fast. And, as a mother in my own right and your big sister, it is my job to point out to you that this is dangerous behavior. You are giving a perfect stranger power over you. That's not smart.

C: It isn't like that! He likes me.

P: Does he? Does he really? Because if her really were a nice guy with good intentions, he wouldn't even joke about buying your time and affection.

C: He didn't do that.

P: Yes, he did. He offered you this $300 thing in exchange for 20 dates. If that isn't a guy looking to buy your time, what is?

C: It was a joke!

P: It isn't funny. And in your place, I would have been insulted and told him to stick his thing where the sun doesn't shine. And then, I'd tell that friend that her friend was a first-rate jerk.

C: He said if it makes you feel better he'll just buy it and "leave" it at my place.

P: Make me feel better? What about you? This has nothing to do with me. Don't you see? This is about you. This is about valuing your time with a price tag. Doesn't that make you feel bad?

C: (blinking rapidly)

P: Look, you are an adult and you are responsible for your own happiness. If you choose to trade your time and services for electronic goods, so be it. You don't answer to me. Furthermore, you wouldn't be the first female to sell her services for a price. I just want you to be aware of how you are treating yourself and how you are letting this guy treat you. It doesn't speak well of either of you. But if you are choosing to do this, for heaven's sake, value yourself a little higher, will ya?

The conversation sort of tailed off from that point. She really wanted an apology for me calling her a whore and since I never did that, I refused to do so. I don't know if she ever really got what I was driving at. My guess is that she knows full well and understands. I hope I gave her a bit more to think about.

The next morning, when I could be assured of no eavesdroppers, I called my mom and informed her of the complete situation. Her reaction: "Oh, Thank GAWD you said something! I was so worried that I was going to have to sit her down and it wouldn't have helped our relationship..."

That's me: doing all of the parenting my mom doesn't want to do.

So, did I do right? On the one hand, I feel no regrets in what I did. Frankly, she needed to hear it. Could I have soft-pedaled the delivery a bit more instead of employing the machete of bluntness? Sure, but I doubt she would have heard it without the drama, if you know what I mean.

Sound off. Am I a stand-in momma or a nosy and judgemental sister?

Posted by Phoenix at January 15, 2008 11:33 AM


Neither. You are doing the right thing, which no one else is evidently willing to do....

Bunny's lucky to have you.

Posted by: caltechgirl at January 15, 2008 01:41 PM

You did absolutely right. At the very least, she is making an informed decision, which she wasn't doing before. Different perspective for this age group is always good. That's what I would have said to her..and even if she doesn't get it right now...she will soon. Give it time to work on her a little. The truth has a way of resonating...

Posted by: kelly at January 15, 2008 02:43 PM

I'm with you on this one big sis.

Posted by: oddybobo at January 16, 2008 08:59 AM

You totally did the right thing. And she'll probably realize it too, once she meets the guy. I mean, any guy who feels he needs to put out an offer like that can't exactly be a great catch! Oy. Good luck!

Posted by: DogsDontPurr at January 17, 2008 03:05 PM


Good Lord,Phoenix. Thank goodness your sister has you and your husband.

You are absolutely correct.

Be strong.

Posted by: Christina at January 18, 2008 07:42 AM

"A 30-something man who is chasing 20-year-old tail is only interested in one thing..."

As a 30-something man myself, I cannot more completely agree with that.

As for how you handled it, the only reason you said anything at all is because you give a crap. It might take a while, but she'll see that. Eventually.

Posted by: TeaFizz at January 18, 2008 01:50 PM

We need more people
like him,  I agree with you.




Posted by: gdf at December 3, 2008 04:15 AM

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