My daughter came for a visit last week. Unfortunately, it was with my ex-wife in tow.
Somehow the former Mrs Kyknoord managed to convince me that it “would be nice” if I let both her and Kyk Jr stay in my spare room. I like to think I agreed because I am infused with the spirit of generosity, but I realise now that the more likely reason was that I am just phenomenally stupid. When I mentioned the arrangement to my friend Andrew, his immediate response was something along the lines of, “Do you love pain so much?” I hate it when he’s right. And he usually is. It was, of course, a completely arse-brained idea.
Mere minutes after they arrived, I began to get an inkling of precisely how tooth-grindingly long the week would be. I had just finished lugging the last of three removal van-sized suitcases up the stairs, when I discovered the ex ransacking my cupboard:
“Why are you ransacking my cupboard”
“I’m looking for a raincoat”
“Ah. You didn’t you pack a raincoat?”
“You do know that it rains in Cape Town in winter”
“Yes, that’s why I’m looking for a raincoat”
Much as I love seeing the youngster, I’m afraid the sell-by date on my relationship with her mother is loooong past. We can take one another in small doses, but being stuck in the same living space for any length of time is another story altogether+. I am still fond of my ex, but I keep forgetting that she doesn’t visit – she invades++.
And then there was the Mess. Ye gods, the Mess! It requires capitalisation, because to call it just “mess” doesn’t nearly do it justice. Within hours of her arrival, every available surface in the flat was either sticky, covered in random detritus, or both. Usually both. How she manages this is a mystery to me. I am convinced she has developed the ability to manipulate space-time. This allows her to map dirtspace onto livingspace with alarming efficiency. I am a tad concerned that my daughter is learning the noble trade of Filthmongering at the feet of a Grand Master. This does not bode well for the teenage years.
Less tolerable than the Mess, though, was the thinly-disguised scrounging. During the course of the week, I heard innumerable variations on the theme of, “Oh, I’d love to take Little Miss to the Book Fair, but I don’t have any money”. This was inevitably followed by a long, Expectant Pause, coupled with a Meaningful Look – both of which I studiously ignored. Clearly she was hoping I’d leap into the fray with a gallant, “Please, let me pay for it. How much do you need?”
Look, I’m a reasonably a generous guy and I’m more than happy to help out where my daughter is concerned, but the former Mrs K seems to have overlooked the rather obvious fact that I don’t actually have a giant pile of money at my disposal. Certainly not after I paid for her air tickets and burned up my petrol budget for the entire month ferrying her all over town to see her
retarded lovely friends. Not to mention the amount I spent buying low-fat/organic/hydroponically-grown-in-fucking-holy-water groceries for the visit because she’s on some Dr Phil-endorsed miracle diet. I would have been able to take the Ultimate Eating Plan for a New You nonsense a little bit more seriously if she hadn’t set about systematically hoovering up every other scrap of food in the flat moments after touchdown. She seems to view a stocked kitchen shelf as a personal insult.
However, the scrounging and the dietary drivel were nothing compared to her inability to make a sodding decision. The official reason for the trip was so that Little Miss could visit her grandparents, but every. single. attempt. at an arrangement became an exercise in frustration, because the ex could never settle on a time or a place. I was amazed that at how my mother managed to keep her cool in the face of this constant vacillation. The old girl isn’t exactly the soul of patience. I believe the root of the problem was the ex’s gnawing fear that that she might be missing out on something. Consequently, she would make plans, only to change them and then change them back again (repeat as necessary). Each time a seemingly more exciting opportunity came up, she would hop over the fence, only to discover that the grass she’d just abandoned suddenly looked so much juicier and a whole lot greener. Oh, What to do? What to dooo?!!
Fortunately, I was able to maintain my sanity with my demon lover’s assistance. I owe her an enormous debt of gratitude, since she applied her feminine skills with great skill and skilfulness to the task of releasing my pent-up tension+++. The treatments administered by Mlle Succubus were so effective that I was able to endure the foulest of my ex-wife’s moods with a smile. Actually, I think the smile may have been a contributing factor to her slouching around the flat with her lip on the floor. Call me paranoid, but I have the tiniest glimmer of a notion that the ex isn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of me having a girlfriend.
Of course, if I wasn’t the selfish bastard that I am, I would be pining my life away (as one does) in the vain hope that one glorious day she’ll tell me that all is forgiven and that I can come back. And wouldn’t that be fun?
+ Probably something by Dostoevsky
++ One particular expression, courtesy of Tenmiles, keeps ricocheting around in my head: “You remember the hits, but you forget the Mrs.” Indeed.
+++ Yes, that’s EXACTLY what I mean. Hur hur hur.