Thursday, January 5, 2012

What on earth is happening to me?

England in the 1950’s.  I was born in that decade, but only remember what family life was like from films 
and soap operas.  The woman would usually stay at home; always wearing a floral apron, hair lightly permed, and spent all day cleaning and cooking. Husband would come home from work at 5pm, usually wearing a hat and always a vest.  Men all wore vests then.  She would give him his felt slippers and he would sit on the brown draylon chair with a lacy thing hung over the back. The chair would be in front of the coal fire with a brass coloured fireguard in front of it and the mantelpiece covered with china souvenirs from seaside resorts such as Blackpool and Llandudno. He would sit and watch the flickering black and white television whilst the final touches were made to his dinner. They would call each other ‘father’ and ‘mother’ and never use their real names. Then one day the son would bring his girlfriend home for tea, to meet the parents and the whole house would be cleaned in anticipation.  Great nervousness and great excitement. 

I have often thought life here in the Dominican Republic had some similarities to Britain in the 1950’s but the reality hit hard last night.  A couple of days ago, stepson announced he had a girlfriend. A serious girlfriend.  She wanted to meet his parents but he was scared to bring her to meet us as he thought she wouldn’t understand my British sense of humour and I would embarrass him in front of her. As if!  I assured him I would not point out any of his annoying habits and promised to behave myself. 

Last night, around 10pm I was working on the computer and husband was watching TV in bed, in his underpants. Stepson walked in and announced that girlfriend had arrived to meet us. Then a truly dreadful thing happened.  I changed from being me, to being that woman from the 1950’s.

I jumped up from my chair, took off my glasses, fluffed up my hair, and tried to smooth down my T-shirt.  Walked nervously into the living room and saw her standing outside the front door.
“Come in out of the cold, you must be freezing.” (This is the Dominican Republic you dork, not Yorkshire in the winter!)
She came inside, holding his hand. 
“So sorry about the mess, it is the puppy, she is wrecking the place,” I apologized, wringing my hands. (I have never wrung my hands in all my life).  I looked around horrified at the chewed up empty toilet roll inserts, and bits of paper all over the place.  And then, horror of horrors spotted a little puddle of lemon coloured puppy piddle.  I managed to manoeuvre myself expertly in front of it 

“What is your name?” I asked. (Things were going better now.)
“Anna,” she replied. (Ha, I had this cracked.)

“And, err, do you do anything?” (What an idiotic question! My nerves were getting the better of me.)

She replied, “I am at University, studying to be a teacher.”
“Ooooh a teacher!  How amazing.” (For Pete’s sake it was a teacher not a brain surgeon. No need to overreact.)

Husband appeared, fully dressed to rescue me before I made a total fool of myself.
“Hello, nice to meet you. At least my son has good taste in women!”
And I thought he was going to save the day, and instead started like that. I decided that anything I could say would be better than that.  I was sadly wrong.
“And such lovely teeth,” I gushed. (Do not even ask where that came from. I was completely mortified as the words left my mouth.  And one thing I never do is gush.)

Luckily stepson could see things were not going to get any better and said that this was only the informal introduction and a formal one would follow shortly.  He ushered her out rapidly.  On asking husband later what exactly a formal introduction was, he said something to eat and a longer chat. I know that in 1950s Britain it would have been a nice pot of tea and cucumber sandwiches with the crusts off and fruit cake, but I have no idea here.  Whatever it is I will have to do it well.  This is the woman who will feed me mashed plantains when I lose my teeth and change my incontinence pads when I am old and decrepit.  I just hope I can return to being me and not continue to morph into 1950’s woman, and I have a horrid feeling I am not changing into the nice one in the floral apron at the stove, but more like Hilda Ogden from the famous British soap opera, Coronation Street. 


  1. I think you did well,given the time of night

    just imagine
    you in pajamas,hair put up on the dresser and teeth in a glass

  2. Omg, thanks I needed that. What a hoot. Can't stop laughing, almost choked on my saliva. How great you are at painting the picture, I was right there with you and was switching between being you and then being the girl, having been in both circumstances, of course.

    I want to say right on, but really 'write on.'

  3. bri I still have all my teeth thank you - although some are plastic ones on posts haha.

    4747 glad you enjoyed it. I should have put myself in the girls position, and will try to do that next time, at the formal presentation, which I am already dreading lol!

  4. Your reactions made me laugh. Did she have nice teth? Can't believe you said that...were you a dentist in a past life?

  5. whoops that should be teeth! not teth

  6. I have no idea PiP - the words just came out of my mouth and I hate dentists!

    Mothergeek your comment ended up in the 'Book" tab but I am glad you enjoyed it, and your English is a million times better than my Swedish! I can only say Skol!

  7. We are definitely a post-modern Dominican family. My brother had the big wedding in church with nearly 200 guests and my lis sis and I eloped (there were two guests/witnesses at my wedding). This saved my dad from spending a fortune on marrying off his daughters and us the stupid spectacle. We are still married.

    I love reading your blog. I disappear for a while then come back to read 4 posts at a time. You have a way with words, and I love to see my country through your eyes.

  8. Am glad you enjoy the blog Aunt Clara, I love your recipes and use at least 2 a month!