I’ve decided that I must have the kind of face that invites people to sit down and tell me their woes. Whether I want to hear them or not.
A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting my dear friend Flora, and whilst I was there, her grandson came a-calling.
Now, I’d probably only ever said two words to him previous to this visit, and I believe the words were, hello and goodbye. So you can imagine my surprise when he asked me if I knew much about children. Huh?
I cautiously said that I knew a little about them, and from then on, I was his best buddy. He then proceeded to spend the next hour telling me how he had been separated from his wife for about five weeks, and he seemed to think that his wife was constantly leaving the children home alone to go to night clubs, and what did I think he should do?
WTF? I can do diplomacy, really I can, but all I could think of was “why can’t they live with you then?”. It seemed simple enough to me, I’m not sure he was all that enamoured with my suggestion. I suspect he probably wanted me to tell him to report the wife to the authorities, but I’m honestly not sure who that would benefit.
My thinking was, if he was so worried about his kids, why not try to get custody of them? It seemed obvious that his wife wasn’t fit to be a parent.
I also recall a few years ago, when I lived in Durham, (due to job) which is in the North East of England, I lived next to this gentleman called John.
Now John was in his early fifties and I was just in my early twenties at the time, but we got on pretty well. We shared a driveway, and he always used to cut my grass, which was fabulous for me. (Paul used to come to see me every weekend, and couldn’t get over how neat my garden was, tee hee)
One day, I left my house to return a video, and on my way out I noticed that he was sat on his bench in his back garden bawling his eyes out.
Now remember, I had a video that had to be back that evening, so I had to make a decision as to whether to ask him what the matter was, or to pretend I hadn’t seen him, and take my video back. Being a generally nice person, I opted to ask him what the matter was.
Apparently his partner of umpteen years had left him for a man who was much older than John (this other guy was 63 years old…). As you can imagine, he was absolutely devastated.
He started at the beginning and told me the whole damn story from the thread to the needle.
He also told me about his partner’s (she was called Jean) insecurities, and how she was always really paranoid that he would have an affair.
John also told me that Jean was convinced that he was getting his leg over with yours truly, and had accused him of this several times. I was a little perturbed by this as you can imagine. Moi, having an affair with a 54 year old man, when I was still only in my early twenties? Yech. She must have been smoking some bad shit.
He brought up an episode that had happened the summer before, when him and Jean had come back from wherever they’d been and found me lounging in my backyard, just wearing my jeans shorts (Daisy Dukes to you Americans), and a bikini top.
Apparently they’d had an argument about him ogling me.
What could I say to that? I remember I’d been watching the FA cup final (soccer) at the time, and hadn’t considered that my attire was inappropriate in the boiling heat.
The funny thing is, in the end it was her that ended up having the affair. I think she was going through some kind of crisis.
Anyway, John wanted to know what I thought. In my head, I was thinking what an absolute bitch, but obviously in his fragile state of mind, this isn’t something that I could freely say, so I did the agony aunt thing, and asked him what he thought he should do. We were outside till about 10.30pm discussing his options, in between bouts of tears (from him, not me).
By the time he got to the end of his story, I was physically exhausted, and drained. Needless to say, I got fined for returning the video late. Sigh.
Can you believe that later that night one of my friends, called me to let me know that her husband of less than a year had been having an affair with her best friend, and that he’d left her, for this friend.
Yep, that really happened to me, except this time, I was absolutely devastated by the news because they were both my friends, and I’d literally just attended their wedding the February before.
Incidentally, the husband and the best friend broke up three months later, when they found out that all they’d ever had in common was the sex. Amanda never took him back, and is now engaged to really lovely man.
I really should have my own ‘Dear Karen’ column, waddaya think? *g*