It's been on my mind for a while so no use anyone checking back my recent social calendar. Those who were there will know. I lie awake enjoying it like a favourite home video.
Sophistiqué dinner, everyone on best behaviour. I was seated with a grande dame (80s?) on my right and we were posh parlaying away, everyone else relieved to have me taking the heat.
Then she mentioned that she had her daughter out for the duration, caregiving mama as she got over a 'messy' divorce.
Moi: how interesting. how messy?
GD: oh i dont know, she wont talk about it-
Moi: so how do you know? I ask because my mother knew absolutely nothing about my own very amicable split from my wonderful ex but put it all about that it had been 'messy', as if the two words went together.
Oh poh poh. I felt the blood of battle surge. But I was strong from my non-capping so I went calm and cold and took her to pieces.
- When she mentioned that her daughter was out on caregiver duties, i exclaimed 'poor wretch'.
- When GD lookèd askance i told her it was the most thankless job.
- GD said her daughter was lucky to have a place to 'recover' to which i said with relief, "Good! So much are you paying her?" Paying her?
- This was a battle-axe in the same mould as my own self-referentially obtuse mother.
- With icy politeness I took her through the hell of caregivery: everyone taking the slavery for granted, siblings conveniently leaving it all to the 'servant', high-handed attitude of the care receiver, ever-presuming.
- Without asking details, I nailed every point in the lady's own situation.
- Hobby - my voice lowered to a dangerous calmness as I described my mother's 'shoving my face into her gardenry hobby' when I had never shown any interest in the pastime and came to loathe it. "What do you mean, 'gardenry'? Is that the same as 'gardening'? I hear you mother had a rather beautiful garden". Nods round the table that had fallen silent at the cabaret. 'What I mean by gardenry is, you have the physical treadmill of futility, that's gardening; then you have the endless yak drone in between that the hapless carer has to put up with and eventually drives them crazy. Do you have a hobby that you press upon your daughter? She did - by now looking a little cornered - but her daughter didnt mind.
- "She hates it. If she doesnt fear and loathe it now, she will. It will take a terrible toll. I once asked my mother,
- I took her apart, using examples of my treatment to goad her with a mirror of her own. She didnt have to tell me, I spotted another one and I knew exactly how her daughter was suffering.
- The table agog. In fact, when i was itemising the vileness done in the name of 'gardenry' one of the guests piped up, "I know what you mean ~ I'm not a gardener but I knew your mum was an expert so I humbly asked her how I could take advantage of her expertise and learn. "Easy, you suck up to me."
"That finished it for me. I never asked her about gardening again, never took any of the garden tours; I thought fuck you, if that's what being a garden expert and a fancy title means, you can keep it."
Me: Funny you should say that. When i saw my jewel box that my mother took behind my back to give to my brother, I had no idea how i'd react. As i climbed the stairs to where the two thieves were sitting I didnt know if i'd take an axe to them, lash out and sweep books from the shelves, CDs from the racks ... or what. But you know what? As I demanded to know what on earth was going on and an explanation, my mother asked me how dare i take that accusing tone as my brother blustered and spluttered - their cake-mouth expressions of busted guilt - all moral stature and authority drained from them, a physical emptying, and i was never interested again in a single thing they were selling.
"When I recounted the theft to friends, they commented astutely that the physical theft symbolised my overall treatment: theft of time, of self-esteem (the humiliating toil in the garden), theft of manners, theft of modicum of respect, theft of any recognition."
- I knew I was describing her, and so did the table.
- "You ought to meet my daughter, in that case, since you have so much advice"
- 'I don't need to meet her! I have no 'advice', poor wretch.'