The One Where History Doesn’t Repeat

When I was six years old, my father came home early one night and walked in on me having a tea party with my brothers. It was a royal affair, this one, organized by Yours Truly, the Royal King Your Highness the Third. During this event, peasants from the neighboring villages (four of my brothers who refused to bathe regularly) presented me with offerings such as candy necklaces and stuffed animals. It was up to my wife (my second oldest brother) to decide if their offerings were worth a cup of air.

To be or not to be worthy of tea; that was the question.

It was upon seeing his second oldest son with make-up on, and in a pink princess gown, that my father lost his shit. He yanked him up by the arm and nearly tore the dress off his skinny 9-year-old frame before practically drowning him in the sink as he made him wash the make-up off. The whole scene was tied in with a smack on the ear. Everyone was screaming at that point, me loudest of all.

‘You ruined it!’ I snot-cried, hurling gifts the peasants graced upon me at the ogre manhandling my wife. It earned me a smack on the bottom and a trip to bed without dinner.

Fast-forward twenty years, and I’m at our local pancake shack accompanied by my husband and two oldest children, celebrating a job well done. The Boy made it through his first ballet recital with minimal damage; only one child was accidentally elbowed in the face. He might have gone left where he should have gone right a couple of times, but considering he is seven years old it was all very high-five worthy.

All of us are plowing our way through a platter of pancakes when a woman in the booth next to ours leans across the aisle and practically into Max’s food.

‘Why is your son wearing make-up?’ She asks in a hushed tone that is still clearly audible to anyone and everyone. Heads pop up all around us, and The Boy practically buries his face in his food. My heart sinks.

‘Because he wants to.’ Max responds coldly, moving his plate away from her. It’s the only true answer – he wants to, and on special occasions (because I’m not a fan of make-up on any child), he gets to.

Just as he’s about to resume his dinner, the woman leans in even closer. ‘But he’s a boy,’ she hisses disapprovingly.

As I open my mouth to speak, Max turns towards her so fast that he knocks the hand she used to steady herself off our table. She has to grab his arm to keep from crashing to the ground.

‘Well no fucking shit, Sherlock. Get off me.’ He barks, literally shielding off his son with one arm. And then, in the same breath, to his children: ‘Don’t ever let me hear you talk to anyone like that, unless they’re really rude and disrespectful. Got it?’

Two children nod their head, and I grin into my napkin.

So here’s to you, potty mouth. Happy father’s day – we love you!

… And here’s to me, for not marrying my father.

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Liquid Courage

envymeIt was money we didn’t have, but I spent it anyway; counting out handfuls of coins on a glass counter and receiving a small pink bottle in return. I had wandered into a perfumery tucked away in one of the city’s forgotten corners to escape the rain and fell in love with a scent. The woman behind the counter, she didn’t even blink when I emptied out my purse and revealed my share of the tip jar, handed to me by my boss only an hour before. Instead, she put her hand over mine when my coins didn’t even add up to half the price yet, and insisted on gift wrapping my treasure in delicate, gold-striped foil. I chose to give her a genuine smile and a thank you, accepting her act of kindness and refusing to feel embarrassed.

It smells like bravery, I had laughed when she asked me if I liked it, because to me it did. This fragrance, it made me feel like a million dollars. Bold, and sexy. Confident. I could fake it like any nineteen year old girl could and wear it on my skin, but this scent… It made it sink in deeper.

When I made it home to him at a whisper to twilight, I woke him up from some much needed sleep with kisses and wandering hands, coaxing until he was heavy on top of me and trembling with the effort of holding back. I want to try again, I whispered when he was fully awake, and he kissed me.

I was still scared it would hurt too much, just like it hurt too much the last time. And the time before that. And the two years before that. And yet this time the fear didn’t cancel out my desire to get caught underneath him, to feel his weight pressing me down. I wanted to hear his breath catch in his throat and feel his mouth stain his desire all the way down my stomach and back up again. Yes, I was scared. But you can’t be brave without being scared.

Fast forward about seven years. I haven’t smelled that perfume in years, until today. As we wander around our local department store to kill some time before our therapy session, I spot the pink bottle – my liquid bravery. Smiling slightly, I spray a bit on my wrist and let it air for a bit before holding it under his nose. His grin his instant, genuine and Cheshire-like.

And I feel brave all over again.