Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Charlie Drama

Charlie has been my wife's boyfriend for about four years. I hate him.

He's English, upbeat, and eager to be 'mates' with everyone. He can be quite charming - until you get to know him and realize that he's a hard-core alcoholic and a complete loser.

Charlie and I could not be more opposite. We're so completely different that I long ago stopped trying to understand why my sort-of-ex-wife finds him irresistible. It's just a phenomenon that IS.

Charlie's alcoholism is only one of his many problems. His next biggest problem is that he never has a nickel. I can't say that he's broke because he's lazy; that's not true. If he says he'll do a job he will, although his work tends to be very sloppy. He's the type who would use a wad of chewing gum if he thought it would fix a leaky pipe. Cheap, creative - and completely wrong.

The reason Charlie is so poor is because he's in the US illegally and he has no identification of any kind. No passport, no driver's license, no state ID - nothing. Because he has no ID he can't get a regular job. Instead he survives one day to the next by doing odd jobs. If you need a room painted he can do it quickly for $100. But he'll slap the paint on, not use a drop cloth and get paint flecks everywhere.

In the more than four years that I have had the displeasure of knowing Charlie he has bounced through about eight different living situations. He's been evicted twice for not paying rent. Other times he's been roommates with other alcoholics. Because his friends are all losers with no jobs, it's only a matter of time before they get evicted and Charlie is forced to find a new couch.

In November, for the first time ever, Charlie stopped drinking. While he was sober his ex-wife let him sleep on her couch. I loved that situation because Charlie doesn't have a car and his ex-wife lives about 7 miles away. I never had to see him! But then the inevitable happened in February and Charlie fell off the wagon. After a few weeks of on-and-off drinking, his ex finally gave him the boot about ten days ago. That literally left him homeless.

For the first five days he bounced from friend to friend. One night here, one night there. Last Thursday night my sort-of-ex Gabbie spent a solid hour begging me to let him sleep in our house. Normally I give in to her about everything, but when it comes to Charlie I have my limits. "No, no, no. Absolutely, positively NO WAY," I told her.

I suggested that he find an overpass somewhere. Gabbie was not amused.

Somehow Charlie eeked out a few more nights on various couches. Then on Sunday night, a solid two hours after Gabbie had crawled into bed to watch TV for the remainder of the night, her cell phone rang. Charlie. After some vague back and forth between them, Gabbie hung up and jumped out of bed. Then she started searching the house for something. "What's going on?" I asked her.

"Charlie is going to sleep in my car tonight. I'm getting him some blankets."

Well, fuck!

I grumbled to myself for a while. Then I decided that keeping him in the car was better than fighting about him sleeping in the house.

Oh, how short-sighted I was. Sure, he can sleep in the car but what happens when he's hungry, dirty or needs to use the bathroom? Into the house he comes.

The big question is: how long is this sleeping-in-the-car bullshit going to last?

I don't know the answer. Gabbie is working feverishly to find him a room to rent. She's already told me that she's going to use me as his reference. That will enable me to experience the finer points of 'survival of the fittest' as I try to foist Charlie out of my life and into someone else's.

At a minimum Charlie won't have a home until April first. He needs to work for the rest of March to save enough money to pay one month's rent and a security deposit. This means that I can look forward to dealing with him on a close, personal basis for at least the next 17 days. What a fucking nightmare.

Now with Charlie hanging around, I have to wonder why I thought a co-parenting, co-habitational break-up was a good idea...


  1. It seem to me that you need to do everything you can think of to keep him out. Not because you don't like him, but he is not good to be around your kids.

    Gabbie needs to remember that her first responsibility is not to Charlie or you, but her kids.

  2. I think what Charlie needs most is someone to tell him to get a real job and the meaning of life.

  3. As I have said before, get a restraining order not allowing Charlie on your property, despite anything Gabbie may say. Do it tomorrow. And the next time you see him near your house, call the police to enforce the restraining order.

    Maybe if law enforcement sees that he is illegal and has no papers, they will send him away -- away to jail or back to England.

  4. I'm sure everyone is telling you the same thing, and I just can't help myself, but tell your wife, to go back to living at her own place, where she can let whomever she wants sleep on the couch.

    Your kids don't need a homeless bum living in their Mom's car.

    Sorry to call Charlie a homeless bum, I didn't mean to insult the homeless, or the bums.


  5. All I could think about is how is this being explained to the kids? Do they know? This situation with kids around can be dangerous.

  6. I side with Uncutplus. You have to threaten Gabbie with calling the cops to turn in Charlie if she allows him in the car or the home. You don't have to worry about losing her anymore, she left you already. Standing up to her would make you feel terrific and I am sure your kids would feel much safer and even secretly cheer you on..Go DAD. If you did this for them. He is a danger to your house and family, not just a distraction for your wife that reveals her own appalling lack of judgement and her total inconsideration of her family.

    You can do this Cameron - and it may be much more valuable to your own psyche than you imagine. Stand up for yourself and family and up to her for once.

  7. Thank you all for your comments and concerns. I realize I made a big blunder by omitting information about the kids.

    They are all naive, self-involved teenagers. Rarely do they think about anyone but themselves. Although they are aware that Charlie has been around more frequently lately, they have no clue why. They have no idea he's been sleeping in the car. After four years they don't even know he's an alcoholic.

    Some day they'll know the bigger picture. But for now, he's immaterial to them and they remain pretty clueless.

    They all know that their mother is verbally impulsive. I'm the calm and steady one they rely on. They get their clue about what is important from me. The minute that I start a battle with either Gabbie or Charlie, that's when they'll start to pay attention; that's when their world will turn upside down. It's going to happen eventually but my patience serves the purpose of keeping them naive for as long as possible.

  8. We Jews have a saying for this situation: Oy, vey! Nothing more to add! Glad you, however, did add the info on your kids. Looks like you're trying to maintain a delicate equilibrium until they're out of the house!

  9. Cameron - as they say in AA you are the classic enabler of her disfunction. And I bet your kids know a whole lot more than you think...certainly they have indeed typed her as the volatile one and you as the stable one. But this can earn you total disrespect from them if they think you are being weak and she is irrationally ruling the roost. You deserve a shit fit with her over this and let the repercussions fly. Can't tell you how many kids have rallied behind the parent who finally steps forth and says they will not take it any more and shook up the spouse to be taken seriously and to admit their own issues. And Gabbie needs you to do this, not just her mother

  10. You definitely need to keep him away from the kids, if nothing else. Gabbie SHOULD be able to understand that.

  11. Here's the plan....let him sleep in Gabbie's car. Leave a few bottles of vodka in the back seat. Then call the police at 2am and have him arrested. Claim you don't know him. He won't be able to produce ID and will be deported.

    Problem solved.

  12. It's really hard to break up with someone and still live with them. You're trying to move on to your new life, but still living with all the baggage of the old. So once again you're leading "Two Lives" just in a somewhat different way. A lot of couples do handle their "break up" this way I know, but it has its challenges.

    I do agree with Jayson that your kids may know more than you think they do. Or at least, kids that grow up in a troubled situation do tend to absorb a lot of crap, whether they are consciously aware of it or not, and it can take a toll.

    I feel for you, Cam, trying to balance all this.