Minnie the Moocher

Minnie the Moocher

You tend to regret some of the people that walk into your life. Others you remember with a certain amount of melancholy.  This woman I remember with almost a bitter taste in my mouth: as if her whole existence at one point seemed indulging but was ultimately poisoning me.  It isn’t easy to choose something specific about this woman to write about. It’s hard to pinpoint what aspect of my life she had the most impact. I suppose the easiest way is to introduce her:

We’ll call her Minnie. Minnie is married to my cousin, and has been for the last 13 years.  She’s a tall woman in her early thirties.  When she walked in a room she demanded your attention. She could have been wearing the oldest rag but on her it looked like a million dollars. She wasn’t slim but everything about her was expensive and where I come from that’s enough. Of course everything truly was expensive because my cousin is a former drug dealer.  Everyone knew this; small towns tend to hold very little secrets.  Upon meeting her she treated me like you would treat the thirteen year old cousin of your husband.  She spoke with an almost lazy humor. Like her politeness was forced.  But then there were times that she spoke vividly and seemed truly interested. Thirteen wasn’t the age I became acquainted with her:  that took time and serendipity.

Flash forward a few years and now I’m her husband’s seventeen year old cousin. Her pharmacy needed a trust worthy cashier. Someone who wasn’t money hungry and Minnie thought I’d be a good choice.  The first day was a basic drill about keeping my eyes open on the rest of the workers.  I was expected to be some sort of watchdog when they weren’t there, which was often. They trusted me too much. It would be hours and hours before they would even call their business to see how things were going.  Since I was family I was treated differently than the rest. One of the first things she told me was if I ever wanted anything to ask her, food, money or anything. She would bring me dinner, buy me drinks. She made it her priority that I felt comfortable around her. For some reason my mother and others would warn me to be careful around her. This was rather confusing because I didn’t exactly see how she would be of any threat to me. I mean we started to become friends. Slowly we were sharing things about each other. She was an intimidating person, no argument there. So the fact that she was nice to me made me feel like I was behind some sort of shield from her bitchy side.  The first few weeks were normal. Then I started to really let go.

I had met someone who also worked in another pharmacy. Minnie had known him for some time. She was more excited about our infatuation than I was. She would facilitate ways for me to see myself with him, even if that included covering for me at work. Her husband also knew this to the point that he even offered me birth control. This stunned me so much that all I could do was look at him and smile. He quietly put it in the drawer at my desk and said “It’s there if you need it”. Still all I could do was smile. I told this to my then boyfriend and his response was something that I now call “The first stone on the road to awareness”. He told me that I should have rejected the birth control. To my boyfriend, my cousin offering me birth control was a way of knowing whether or not I was sexual active. This struck me as odd but being or at least trying to be a reasonable person I didn’t discard it immediately. Instead I decided to observe closely their interest in our relationship.  It goes without saying that their interest in my personal relationship was not only overwhelming it was also a bit scary.  The reality was that knowing about my life and aiding me to get things that I wanted was a mean of control. I was miserable working there. I worked every day for laughable pay. But I was trust worthy, something they lacked at the time.  If even for a moment I would have a frown at work Minnie would sit down with me and did everything in her power to make me feel like a queen. Once home, I would rethink if it was a good idea to quit. In general, it was very astute manipulation.

Of course this came as a sacrifice on their part. In order for someone to trust you, you must prove that you trust them.  So Minnie and her husband would often times tell me the most outrages stories. Stores that included infidelity, drugs, crimes, vengeance. I would find myself as the ‘fly on the wall’ that was their marriage. I never shared anything anyone told me and they knew that. So Minnie would feel comfort in telling me when she cheated on him and with whom and likewise would her husband. It was a very odd situation. It got to the point that we were all tied to each other, bond with invisible chains of debauchery. They did everything I wanted and I did everything they wanted. I moved from one boyfriend to the next and in each one Minnie was our self-proclaimed counselor. She didn’t discriminate on who should be a viable candidate for my affection. As long as they were willing to be my subordinate, things like marital status were of no importance. And in and out of trouble we went and more and more I couldn’t recognize myself anymore. By the time I realized this I no longer wanted to be around her. I started to hate her and her husband for the sick people they were. They never showed interest in other people unless it was to their convenience. I no longer wanted to be associated with anything about her. So I slowly started to step down on our friendship. When Minnie would feel me pull away she’d run back into me out of some form of despair. She’d follow me where I’d go, she needed to know who I talked to, any form of secrecy or privacy was an act of betrayal to her. I suppose she felt that if I did walk away I’d lash out on her horrible attitude and thus revealing to the world her true colors. So she did everything in her power to maintain our friendship.

The fact is that I would have never done anything like that and I would like to believe that somewhere she knew this too. So my only other explanation for her sudden obsession with me was that she probably wouldn’t find anyone to listen to her crap and not turn Dr.Evil on her. Although my mother would suggest later on that she might be a lesbian and was in love with me. This makes some sort of sense because she was jealous of my best friend Mabel, and often accused her of being a lesbian and in love with me. I progressively fought the chains that bond us together. You’d think that I might have as well quitted. How could I tell my father, who trusted my cousin so much, the real reason why I wanted to leave the pharmacy. Could I have told him “He sniffs cocaine in the back room”? Or “I know more drug dealers than I should”? Thus it made it really difficult to leave. Time passed by and the pharmacy fell into hardship. This was due to her stealing from the pharmacy to entertain her friends/lovers and his stealing from the pharmacy to buy drugs and entertain his friends/lovers. This led to my cousin to take once again his old job as drug dealer and head to the states, at least to find enough money to restore the pharmacy to what it was. This scared me. A lot. I was in no way afraid of his safety but I was afraid of Minnie. He was going to be away for a few months and she was going to be here alone and in charge. What’s worse is that she’d have money so there would be more of that friends/lover thing. The reason why this startled me so much was because in the end things would come to light and I’d be a star witness, something that I didn’t want to be. So when he left I never spoke to her again. Since I worked the morning shift and she worked the evening shift we would only say goodbye and hello. I never took her calls or anything. I carefully counted every coin before turning over the shift in order to make sure any lost of money was not blamed on me. Even with all this the truth exploded and I was called as star witness. Minnie in a matter of one month stole 2,000$US, which is a lot of money on a small business. My cousin arrived back without saying one word to anyone, crying and upset over his wife’s betrayal. I remember just like today, that night Minnie called me and spoke to me for the first time in months. She was scared and didn’t know what to do. Her husband had suddenly gotten home to find her with a friend and some guy in their home. He got to the pharmacy where I was at the time and broke every glass counter he could get his hands on. He closed the pharmacy and took the long way to my house. He asked me what I knew and I told him the truth: I didn’t know anything. I had stopped talking to her. He believed me for the first two-days. But then his drug fueled rage would lash out on me again and again. He called me names, like backstabber and accused me of pretending to be a saint when I was a good nobody.

I learned something about Minnie in all this and that was that she was also a drug addict. Her husband in a state of anger made it his business to inform everyone. Everything about her became clear. She’d have this huge burst of energy and then fall into tears in a matter of minutes. There were times that she didn’t make any sense but I thought she was just being silly. It was drugs. This scared me even more than anything her husband could do to me. The fact is that I would hang out with this person; everyone knew I was her confidant. I would put up with her bullshit. How could this have escaped me? I wasn’t afraid that people wouldn’t believe my ignorance but that in fact I knew so much that I might have been a participant. I felt like I was in a no exit street. I finally spoke to my father and with tears asked him to please get me out and away from these vile people. Something holy intervened and he told me to hang on a few weeks because we were leaving the country anyways.

I left but in so I left it up to them to decide what my legacy would be. I’ve heard that I was ill spoken of after I left, from everything to robbery to covering up for both of them. Things like this hurt me but in a larger sense most people, at least the ones that matter know the truth. Does it give me any grief over the state that they’re in? (I mean every cent that comes their way is spent on cocaine). Well the truth is it doesn’t. What goes around comes around and if you make lots of money by killing people than you will die from the same thing.

I have never been in a situation like that before in my life. These people were voluntarily in my life and I couldn’t do anything about it. It was as if I was committing spiritual suicide by just having them around. I knew and was involved in more things than I feel comfortable sharing. But in a way I don’t blame them for my follies or the bad experiences. I earnestly believe everything happens for a reason and this was one of those things. It showed me how vicious people truly are. It changed the way I see personal relationships. I grew from being ignorant to being a cynic. I look at everyone now and analyze their attitude searching for any trace that made reveal them as drug dealers/users, backstabbers, liars, egomaniacs etc. I grew -without a doubt- I grew in the time I spent with her. I don’t know if I changed but I know I grew. There isn’t a day that I don’t thank God for having her and her husband thousands of miles away. I have never spoken to or heard of them again since I left. I’ve learned to never let myself get tangled with anyone like that again. Drug dealers or not I never in my life want to let another person in control of me ever again.

*Minnie the Moocher is a popular jazz song by Cab Calloway. The song is about a girl who was with a cocaine addict and she became a drug addict as well.