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Refuge for the rational.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Motherboy was here again today. This is the name I graciously applied to a mother and her liminally adult son. They come in for coffee one or two times a month and she spins him like a top just to make sure he doesn’t get too far away from her, and to make sure he’s not getting spun by anyone else.

I know women like that. Cows. Everything is matter of fact and purposefully, patronisingly polite. Because as long as you don’t call someone names, you can speak to them however you wish. She has a mild English accent and faintly reeks of the colonial persuasion. She is cold and matter of fact and, like most women her age, round, with a waddle that renders her absolutely absurd.

Boy is as passive as you would expect one to be with a mother like that. In keeping with the colonial theme, he reminds me of a fancy-pants little heir to property in Kenya, whose short adulthood has been plagued by constant efforts to hide his homosexuality from his family. And to top it all off, the first time I ever saw Motherboy come in, boy was sporting these ridiculous Darwinian chops. And, since I have a passing fancy for sideburns that are, shall we say, more extensive than usual, the opportunity to further the ridicule of my odd inclination became a rather profitable pastime for my co-workers. I duly explained the minute differences between the Cold War and the War of 1812, but these protestations fell on deaf ears and I was forced to bear the humiliation of an invented connection to the disgusting little heir until he had the courtesy to shave the fucking things off. They didn’t last long, thankfully.

Once Boy came in with a girlfriend. She was a fairly plain-jane number, the kind you would expect a pallid little meekling like Boy to date. The thing that was notable about her was that she was smiling. It felt incongruous amongst the insipidness of Boy and the passive-aggressive sternness of Mother. Clearly, this was an interview. That’s what ‘nice’ boys do. They bring their poor girlfriends to meet their juggernaut mothers. There was nothing remarkable about the meeting; it was as silent and cheerless as always, with Mother doing most of the talking and Boy quietly absorbing her ‘advice’. When they left, Girl wasn’t smiling. She wasn’t unhappy either; if I know Boy, I’d say the relationship likely wasn’t anywhere near a point where she would have cared. That’s what ‘nice’ boys do. They bring their poor girlfriends to meet their juggernaut mothers before they bother to establish anything meaningful at all.

I never saw Girl again, but I guess that was inevitable. The fact the relationship was ever established to begin with was probably a wonder of physics. Though a variety of the usual secret lives and perversions could be summoned to decorate the inane Boy, none of them apply here. After all, I know boys like that. Disappointing. They use their silence to let you think there’s something more, but there never is. There are no perverse or even interesting surprises—just missionary sex and bad conversation.

Mother made me feel slightly less nasty toward boy when she came in with two of her hen friends. Mother and daughter—how perfectly fitting. The three sat around for over two hours and discussed indulgent subjects such as shoes and basically anything consumable. And then came an eerie, paranormal sound that halted the entire café. Mother laughed. She tilted her head back and let out a cackle. And she did it without smiling. She lowered her head and looked at the Sunday-best-dressed daughter and coldly said, “it’s because she’s jealous of you, dear”.

Despite not being privy to the context of the story, I was angered. The male sector of my audience may not know this, but women bandy this ‘jealous’ concept around all the time, and I’ve just about fucking had it. But this is another entry entirely. Suffice it to say that it’s the insecure, bitchy ones who seem to need it most. So, I felt a little pity for boy. I wanted him to grow the fuck up and kick mother’s ass to the proverbial Park Avenue curb.

A few weeks later they came in together again. There was the usual quietude and blank stares from Boy. And then I overheard her say something to boy that made me think, “Finally! He’s got to let her have it now!”

“She’s not our kind of people.”

Boy just sat there. He lowered his head. He raised it again. He looked left. He looked at mother. And then she kept on speaking.

Fuck you Boy.

So, it’s like I said. Secret lives and perversions don’t apply. Boy isn’t a serial killer or child pornographer or gay or secretly working on the solution to some great physics mystery. Boy is a stupid little boy, hanging from mother’s apron-strings by his ashen neck. He might take Prozac to cover up his underlying dissent, but his only sad attempt at eccentricity was shaved off months ago. He will marry some boring girl and they will have spoiled children whom they will be mildly proud of and who will be mildly successful. Such is life in the vacuum of consumption.
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