My father, part one-million-and-ten

Five minutes ago I was still feeling good. Then my father came back.

When he came back, I was just writing the following:

And sometimes things take a turn for the better. Today was the final of the under-17 Euros of the ladies, and guess which national team won? Germany. Nothing builds you up quite like that. Well fucking done, girls! šŸ™‚

Besides, IĀ“m proud of how I dealt with my father. He entered the room with a face so stern and earnest that it was almost comical. Because what was the big deal?

“Did you read your motherĀ“s e-mail?”
“You know she comes back home tomorrow?”
“She suggested that we all have breakfast together.”

This is how far I got. Then he returned and made sure things took a turn for the worse again. But let me tell you how it went on.

“I think it would be nice if you were there.”

He said that in a tone as if I was already guilty of not showing up.

“Well, okay.” I replied.

I absolutely donĀ“t feel like getting up early just to hear the following: 1.) We went on so many walks but the weather was bad. 2.) It is disappointing that Germany lost; arenĀ“t you disappointed about it, too? Were you in the stadium? Was the audience disappointed? 3.) Do mail Irene more often, she would really like to hear from you. She tells me all the time how much she misses you. (Well, why doesnĀ“t she write me, then? And more importantly, why does she stop replying after two mails?) 4.) And what did you do all the time? Do you remember you have to find a tutor for your thesis?

But what can I do. If I say no, I get the your-poor-mother tirade again. I will snap at my father, and that gives him just want he wants. I think by meekly saying “okay” IĀ“m pissing him off way more. And indeed:

“It would be good if you could shop for some stuff we can have for breakfast.”

“Okay…well, I donĀ“t know what you normally have for breakfast. How about I go for fresh bread tomorrow morning (he knows I hate getting up early, so imposing this on me is some kind of punishment in itself, so not reacting to it is a small victory), and you buy the rest of the stuff today?” (He cannot do it tomorrow since heĀ“s picking up my mother from the airport. Fair enough.)

He, slightly pissy: “Uh, well, yeah, IĀ“ve just been shopping, but okay.”

Well, tough beans. He could have stopped by before to organize breakfast.

Then: “And of course you will have to clean up.”

“Yeah, sure.”

Sudden change of topic: “You are so pale; there are those shadows under your eyes, did you not sleep well?”

Wow, I bet my mother telepathically told him to say that. This is actually her catchphrase.

“No, I slept excellently, thanks.” Blatant lie, IĀ“m hungover and I went to bed at four a.m. Again, though, one point for me.

Next change of topic: “And yesterday…were you very frustrated?”

Me, serenely: “ItĀ“s a pity we didnĀ“t win.”

Him, in a confidential tone: “Well, I guess the German team was sort of overrated, couldnĀ“t that be?”

Me, still calm and serene: “I wouldnĀ“t know, they played a very decent qualification round and until the semi-finals they won all their games. I think they deserve the credit they got.”

ItĀ“s hilarious, isnĀ“t it? If a team loses the semi-finals of the Euros, it must have been overrated. Like there wasnĀ“t more than one strong team in the world! So because Italy and Spain were better than us weĀ“re suddenly crap?

My father made a non-committal noise and left, emphatically closing the door to the living room (where I was) behind him and despite this gesture I could have danced and cheered because I had just beaten him at his own game. I had shaken off all his provocations and given him NOTHING.

And then the under-17 German ladies team won their European Championship on penalties. ThereĀ“s nothing like a good, solid victory to erase the taste of defeat. Now I might even enjoy supporting Spain during the Euros final. (I donĀ“t support Spain because we lost to Italy. I support Spain because I like the team. I even supported them after they beat us in the World Cup semi-finals in 2010.)

I was so hyper and happy and giggly. Now my parents couldnĀ“t upset me about yesterdayĀ“s defeat anymore. That victory was like a big fat fuck-you to them. I guess thatĀ“s not what the girls had in mind, but thatĀ“s what it adds up to for me. Besides, IĀ“m just glad at least one of our national teams excelled.

Well, then my father returned from shopping. I just found out that since the fridge is crowded (something my mother is neurotic about, according to her everything must be as spacey and empty as possible), he simply dumped our (my girlfriendĀ“s and my) beverages right in front of the door of the fridge. Without even saying anything. Rendering the kitchen a whole lot more messy than it had been.

Then, he entered the room where we were sitting.

“You will clean up before your mother comes home, wonĀ“t you?” he said.

I was absolutely baffled. HadnĀ“t we discussed that ten minutes ago?

“Yeah, sure. You already reminded me.” I replied, still as neutral as I could.

“No, actually I havenĀ“t. I had hoped you would think of that yourself, but oh well!”

Right. Like: What the fuck?

My girlfriend and I protested simultaneously, telling him that we had discussed it already.

“Well, I donĀ“t see you doing anything.” he replied.

“ThereĀ“s plenty of time left, whatĀ“s the big deal?” I asked.

“YouĀ“ll also have to bring back the empty bottles to the supermarket; and please make room in the fridge.” Again, in a tone as if I was a lazy little parasite.

“Yeah, I know, thatĀ“s part of cleaning up.” I said, slightly irritated, but without raising my voice. “We know what we are doing, we have so far always managed to clean up in time.”

“The supermarkt closes at eight.”

It is five p.m. WhatĀ“s the big deal?

“ThatĀ“s three hours left. And besides, I can always return them tomorrow morning when I get the bread.”

A disdainful noise on his part that is somehow supposed to tell me that the intelligent person I allegedly am ought to know that returning the bottles in the morning is a bad idea because.

He left eventually, again closing the door behind him, and my good mood was gone. Wiped away. I knew exactly what had happened here; he had come back to punish me for winning our previous confrontation. DonĀ“t give him what he wants the first time, and heĀ“ll come back to try again. He doesnĀ“t give up, and IĀ“m dead scared that heĀ“ll return and find us still not cleaning up. The next stage is either yelling or openly telling me how lazy and useless I am (he once used the expression “antisocial asshole”) and why IĀ“m not a tiny little bit cooperative and helpful and nice to my parents, especially my mother – who, ironically, has so far had nothing to do with this whatsoever.

Because it is true. We always manage to clean up in time. My mother never had to see the mess the flat is currently in, and she probably never will. Somehow, though, me performing well never inspired my parents to trust me. Rather the opposite.

Why, if IĀ“m so scared of another confrontation, am I writing this instead of cleaning up? Well, just so I can tell myself IĀ“m more than a puppet on a string. IĀ“m putting myself at peril for the sake of my self-esteem and secretly pray that my father doesnĀ“t return before IĀ“m off to the supermarket. Oh, and I not so secretly hope that he just fucks off. I am so goddamn angry…



2 Responses to “My father, part one-million-and-ten”

  1. Yuck, your dad sounds terrible.

  2. He isnĀ“t the most pleasant person. šŸ˜‰

    The most confusing thing might be that he is not always that much of a jerk. He isnĀ“t your typical strict father who punishes the kids when they arenĀ“t obedient.

    I guess he is a fairly damaged person. He never talked much about his childhood, but it starts with him being born in an air raid shelter during WW2 and it didnĀ“t exactly go uphill from there, at least not for the first six or so years.

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