Saturday, December 22, 2007

Downtown

I'm reading Marya Hornbacher's Wasted which is ostensibly about her eating disorder, but really, it's about her resolve to disappear, to achieve a state of non-being, which may be the opposite of Zen, but then, I wouldn't know. I throw the word Zen around without being fully aware of it's meaning or implications. Maybe not the book I should be reading now.

I'm writing this at the local Coffee Bean, the house being short one internet connection. Chubster will look at it sometime or other. At the moment, you can only get on the computer to play Mahjong, only to be unseated by the Big M who is a Mahjong fanatic who says, get up Jenny, let me play, aiya let me playlar, then I'll take a nap.

Only she doesn't. She gets lost in the game for hours, racking up high scores, while I creep upstairs to her bed, swathed in the womblike silence and fall. Asleep? Into a torpor? Who knows. The house smells of turpentine as an old man with a face like crushed brown paper instals the new kitchen door. He is painting it.

Yesterday, Dadda painted the kitchen. Today he is exhausted.

Mums asked, "John, do you want me to buy you jeans for Christmas?"

He says: "No, I want Jackie home for Christmas."

Mums says: "I thought I was the only one who missed Jackie. It's not the same when there's one of us missing."

He says: "You should tell her she must come back every year for Christmas."

And I say: "Look, the only reason she isn't coming back this year is cos she's coming in April."

They turn away sour-faced, missing their daughter. It's true though. Christmas isn't Christmas when there's one of us missing. It's just something to get through. The tree isn't up. The presents aren't wrapped. The cakes aren't baked. (I know I was supposed to and I have even bought all the ingredients, but what with all that paint, turpentine and chaos in the kitchen, I kinda can't)

We had breakfast at Kerala Restaurant this morning, the lovely pal appam and roti canai with mutton curry but Dadda complained the service was too slow. I didn't think even he could find fault with Kerala Restaurant. But evidently I underestimated him.

On my birthday, Jules took us to a trendy new place in Section 11 owned by these two photographers. Dadda went through the usual motions. First he looked at the menu with disgust, thumbing through it and exclaiming at the prices. Then, he tried to order beer (it's owned by Muslims which means no alcohol). Then he asked Jules in an audible whisper whether these people would be capable of making any of these steaks. When I saw the smoke finally emerge from young Julie's ears, I started to laugh. She asked him: Why do you always do this? I answered: Look, if he didn't do this, it wouldn't be him and what would I have to write about in the chronicles of my crazy family? Julie replied: That is not necessarily a good thing. But she calmed down.

I've already given my difficult father his Christmas present - a 29-inch television set. He didn't like it. Mainly because it unseated his 14-inch television set, which, although it was too small for the hall, was in perfectly good working condition! I came down to breakfast yesterday to hear him complain to Mums and the Chubster about it.

When I told Jacks this, she said consolingly that at least he hadn't tried to give it away the way he did Julie's present of teacups. Although I share the same premises as those two eccentric beings, I hadn't heard the story. Jackie kindly enlightened me.

It seems that my father had been bellyaching for years about getting new teacups (all but two of the old teacups had been smashed over the past 14 years). Julie finally forked out for a funky set but when she brought them home, my dear old dad, as is his wont, went ballistic.

Apparently these cups were too BIG. If we served tea in them guests would "drink us out of house and home". Julie filled one of the old cups with water and poured it into one of the new cups. It only required about a millimetre more of water. She tried to point this out to Stubborn but he was adamant and gave said cups away at the first available opportunity to his nephew for his housewarming.

Things that make you go hmmmm. I said, if he dared to do that with the tv, he would have been looking at the business end of a hissy fit. We laughed and pondered the mystery that was our father and his determination to never be happy with anything anyone could give him or treat him to, no matter how nice or expensive or fancy.

I wonder if it runs in the family.

2 comments:

homey d clown said...

I especially liked the bit about me, but the rest of this entry was pretty funny as well. When you see our family on paper, we do seem a tad eccentric.

Jenn said...

I thought you might, monkey.

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