Tag Archives: stress

2007. What to do?

(Just before today’s story! – a quick note to say that my childhood “autobiography” – Bits of a Boyhood – has been wonderfully reviewed by Iseult Murphy – HERE! She is the most prolific reader online and she posts many reviews that are well worth it. Thank you, Iseult! And so to today’s story:)

 

Francine didn’t know what exactly she had in mind when she said “I would very much like to have some time alone.” She had said that to her husband. She needed space. It’s not that he did anything untoward; it’s just that she needed the occasional break from his sporadic odd behaviour. He wouldn’t go to the doctor; possibly he didn’t need to go to the doctor, but Francine was not capable of diagnosing “what was going on”. For example, he would open and close a door four or five times before going through it. He didn’t always do that. Things like that went in “bouts”.

And that is why Francine needed to take the occasional break. This time however, things were different. He had taken his pet canary out of its cage and thrown it to freedom out the window. He had set the dishwasher going three times when there weren’t any dishes to wash. And now he was standing at the door between the sitting room and the dining room and opening and closing it and saying over and over “Come in! Come in!”

Francine consoled herself by joking that perhaps he was trying to welcome back his escaped canary.

Eventually she said, as she had said before, that he needed to go and see a doctor. But he answered (and he seemed quite normal and lovely in his answer) that he didn’t need to do that. There was nothing wrong with him. The stress was all in Francine’s head.

And that is when Francine said, “I would very much like to have some time alone”. Arnold said, “Alright then, why don’t you go for a walk?” So Francine put on her walking shoes and went for a long walk, and thought about things without coming to any conclusion.

When she got home Arnold was in the kitchen cooking some bananas in the oven. She asked him what he was doing and he said the television had said not to feed the dog raw meat.

“But bananas are not meat,” said Francine, “and we don’t have a dog.”

Anyway, by evening Arnold was back to normal. They watched a TV program together and had a normal conversation, and then Arnold went to bed.

Francine sat in the armchair wondering what to do. She honestly didn’t know what she should do next. If Arnold had dropped dead it would be sad of course but definite. Instead, everything was so “up in the air”.

1780. Grandma Mother-in-law

“It’s beautiful, Grandma!” said Lynette. Lynette called her mother-in-law “Grandma”. Gwen had said “Call me Gwen”, but it somehow seemed too familiar. There was a tension, a strain, between the two. Now with the arrival of Lynette’s first child, and Gwen’s first granddaughter, the title “Grandma” seemed to answer a need.

“It’s beautiful, Grandma!” said Lynette. Lynette’s mother-in-law had brought along a dress for baby Olivia.

“It’ll be too big for her,” said Grandma, “but she’ll grow into it.”

“It’s beautiful, Grandma!” said Lynette. Quite frankly, Lynette thought the dress was the most disgusting thing she’d seen in years.

“I got it at a second-hand shop in town. Preloved the shop said.”

“It’s beautiful, Grandma!” said Lynette. It had prints of burning buildings on the fabric. It was the last thing a little girl would want to wear. More suited to a boy. And what boy would wear a dress? And why burning buildings?

“I thought,” said Grandma, “that having burning buildings on Olivia’s frock would signify that we’re not caught up in this old-fashioned pigeon-holing of the sexes. There’s nothing to stop a girl from wearing a fabric with burning buildings printed on it. There’s nothing to stop a girl from growing up and joining the fire brigade.”

“It’s beautiful, Grandma!” said Lynette.

“Look, Lynette,” said Grandma. “I think this dress is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I got it because I wanted you to know that you don’t have to agree with me. You’re the mother! You bring the children up the way you think best. And I can help in any way you think best. I know you think this dress is as disgusting as I do!”

And Lynette giggled. “Well the dress is kind of disgustingly cute in its own way I suppose,” she said.

Grandma laughed. Lynette laughed. Their relationship has not been the slightest strained since. In fact, they get on like a house on fire. Lynette has even started calling Grandma “Gwen”.

1375. The end

How stressful! Conchita was worried sick. Her husband was away for the afternoon and she was a mess. When he came home she had to tell him; she was in love with another man and she was going off with him. His name was Rex. As far as Conchita was concerned, her marriage was over.

Conchita’s husband arrived home. “Honey,” he said, “I’ve something to tell you. I went to the doctor’s this afternoon and I’ve got cancer. It’s terminal. I’ve been given three weeks at the most.”

Oh the relief!

Poem 68: Ah! Song!

There’s so much can be said in a song.
The troubled child sings an inner song.

Fat cats stuff their mouths with food and drink.
Farts and belches are their dinner song.

Remorseful mother, stressed and angry,
blesses her child, sings a sinner song.

Grand Andy stands to sing on tele;
he smugly thinks this is the winner song.

Gale force winds break branches, howling loud,
until a breeze drifts a thinner song.

Some make a long story longer still;
Yet some tell tall tales; some spin a song.

And I, with stilled pen and silent muse,
pour myself a second gin… Ah! Song!!