Dancing queen.

untitledson’s daycare center recently began offering dance class. For an extra fee, your child can get two 45-minute dance lessons each week. When I first saw it advertised, I passed it up, since he already attends a weekly music class. Don’t want to overprogram the three year-old, only to have him use the karate moves he learned in kindergarten to strongarm the car keys away from me when he is 16, just so he can pick up his weed and his 34 year-old stripper girlfriend.

After the first class, his teachers informed me that he threw a hissy when he wasn’t able to attend dance class with the other children (OK, girls). To be precise, the note on his daily report said, “He REALLY wants to go to dance class.” I told his teachers to let him go to one class, so he could try it out. I figured he would either dig it, or he’d find it a bit offputting that he was the only one not wearing a pink tutu and toe shoes.

Now, I’ve always said my son can grow up to be whomever he wants. I won’t mold him or shape him — I will simply give him enough pizza, applesauce and organic skim milk so he turns out however he was meant to turn out. If I see him tucking his shirt into his underwear, chewing his toenail clippings or huffing his own farts, I might straighten him out there. But other than that, I want him to grow up to be himself.

So why all of a sudden is this crazy homophobic fear gripping me? The pea-sized primordial part of my brain keeps saying, “If you let him attend dance class, he’s gonna go GAAAAAY!” Yeah, I know. It’s ridiculous. You are either born gay or straight — you can’t gay anyone up, just like you can’t straighten anyone out. What’s more, gay is normal, just like brown eyes and curly hair are normal. If he grows up gay, well then by god, he is gay. If one day, he sits me down and says, “Mom, I’m gay,” I’d thank him for being honest about it, and I’d tell him that very few people in this world are courageous enough to be themselves. Dammit, I would LOVE MY BIG GAY SON! I would prepare him, tell him it’s not always going to be easy, given all the ignorant fools out there. But in my home, he’d never feel anything but love and acceptance.

All this being said, I’m still concerned about dance class. Don’t get me wrong — I am going to support and encourage his interest. I just felt the need to come clean and put my dirty rotten thoughts out there. I mean, no one ever talks about it, but don’t we all have thoughts like this sometime? Ever hit the automatic door locks when rolling through a po’ neighborhood? Or do you look into the fat chick’s grocery cart to see how many Ho-Ho’s she’s buying? We need to be honest with each other. Maybe by hanging our horrible thoughts out on a line like a pair of holey underwear — the kind with racing stripes — maybe then we can truly get past it.

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.”