Diagnosis murder.

untitledhusband’s youngest brother is a sociopath. At least, that’s what we have surmised, based on our random observations over the past 21 or so years. Since we’re the only ones in the family to recognize the signs, it is starting to create some conflict for us. Should we bring this up at the next family gathering? Should we leave a copy of “So Your Son is a Sociopath” in untitledmother-in-law’s mailbox?

Perhaps I need to give you a little background. Break out your mail-order PhD’s and start the clock, people. The session has begun.

When untitledbrother-in-law was four, he started the family home on fire not once, but twice. Don’t even ask how a four-year old got a hold of matches, cause I don’t know. At the age of 12, he damn near beat our cat to death with his bare hands. We came home to find the poor cat panting, and his eyes were dilated – both signs of extreme physical trauma. On another occasion, he was caught beating a tied-up dog with a broom. No injuries there, thank god – just a rightfully pissed-off dog. And at age 16, while caring for the neighbor’s dog, the animal mysteriously died. OK, now if this were your kid, wouldn’t you find it odd that most animals in your child’s presence are either injured or dead? Would you not be sleeping with a crucifix and a tazer gun, you know, just in case?

After achieving his goal of not only maiming, but killing, another living being, he made the jump from animals to humans. At the age of 20, when he was babysitting his one year-old cousin, the walker she was in spontaneously broke into a zillion little pieces. He told everyone that he was playing a game with her, and that the walker bumped into the wall and shattered. The child was not visibly injured. We were like, “OH. MY. GOD.” Everyone else was like, “Oh those cheap walkers. We’ll have to get her a new one.”

This history, coupled with the fact that he has no emotion – no ups, no downs – has led us to our diagnosis. Surprisingly, no one else in the family sees what we see. I once read that one in 10 people is a sociopath.

As for right now, untitledbrother-in-law is a 21-year old college drop-out. The only bloodshed that we are currently aware of results from his habit of routinely bleeding his parents dry. Perhaps if he would’ve stayed in school, he would’ve learned that if you’re going to make a career out of extorting money from people, you should choose those whose household income is more than $45k a year.

From our vantage point, we see him blowing his money on beer and tattoos (one, ironically, is of barbed wire) and titty bars and $5 mochas and then asking his parents for groceries and gas and rent. This cycle of bouncing checks, asking for money and bouncing more checks just goes on and on.

What slays us are the never-ending excuses dished out by untitledmother-in-law. “He was adopted and who knows what he endured as a baby.” “Deep down, he is a GOOD KID.” Good kid? No no no. Good kids are building irrigation systems in Africa and volunteering at nursing homes and selling lemonade for cancer research. This kid – he is not so good.

untitledhusband and I, we try to stay out of it, cause really, it’s none of our business. And even if we wanted to make it our business, what could we do? We could broach the subject with untitled-mother-in-law and untitledstepfather-in-law, but they wouldn’t believe us. They’d end up hating us, and untitledbrother-in-law would become a martyr.

We go back and forth as to whether we are overreacting or not. Do we have a predator in our midst, or is this simply a young man who will spend the rest of his days working at Seven Eleven and kicking puppies? I wonder if this is the inner turmoil that Jeffrey Dahmer’s family felt as they weighed their suspicions against that little voice that kept saying, “Nah, he’s fine. He’s just a little…different. That’s it. DIFFERENT. He’s our son, he’s our brother. He’s FINE.”

The mother of all dilemmas.

I got a check in the mail yesterday for $2,000-some dollars. Made out to me. Holy shit, right? I was running up and down the hallway, waving my hands just like those ninnies on “The Price Is Right.” If all I had to do to cash that check was hop around on stage without a bra and rub up and down Bob Barker a few times, I would gladly do it. But it’s not that simple.

This check was sent to me, in my name, because my mother recently cashed out my life insurance policy. She had taken it out on me when I turned 18. Since I now have my own life insurance, there is no longer a need for it.

Technically, this money is unequivocally hers. But from a karma standpoint, she doesn’t DESERVE this money — and anyone who knows my mother would agree with this statement. Let me present the evidence:

  • She spends about $500 a month on clothes alone (she recently went four whole weeks without having to do a single load of laundry).
  • When she comes to visit, she doesn’t bring so much as a ball of lint for untitledson.
  • When she does buy the occasional outfit for untitledson, it is usually from the dollar store (not the luxury department stores she shops when buying for herself).
  • She rarely offers to pay for lunch when we’re together, and has even stiffed me a few times.
  • When I asked Mom if she would be interested in contributing to untitledson’s college fund, she said “no, that’s ok” (keep in mind she always told me the reason she didn’t pay for any of my college was that she never had the money).
  • When her granddaughter (my niece) was in the NICU for three months after birth and my brother and his wife were experiencing severe financial difficulties as a result, my mom told them all she could afford to give them was $50. (another relative — one who has always given my mother money when she needed it — generously stepped in to help them out)

This last incident disturbed me greatly. I am my father’s daughter (he was pretty giving), and I know he’d be turning in his grave over this one. The reason she has the money in the first place is because of his death. But it seems the more she has, the stingier she is. I mean, I would eat ramen noodles every day for lunch to be able to pay for art lessons for untitledson. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than giving to him. For most mothers and fathers, that’s the way it is.

So back to the dilemma — should I play karmic police and withhold the check? Should I cash it myself, perhaps put it in untitledson’s college fund? I’m almost positive she would never find out. In your heart of hearts, what would YOU do? Don’t tell me what you say you’d do — tell me what you’d really do. If you need further evidence to make your decision, click here and here.