A (more) light-hearted post, after several heavy ones. He’s already told everyone in town so I don’t have any qualms about writing this story.
On the hunt
This matter came to the forefront of my attention one fine night. My sister was out and we went out to dinner with a family friend who was around my father’s age.
Quickly their bantering turned to women. “As young as possible, and pretty,” said the man. My father agreed, “I met some old classmates and the ones our age look terrible,” but added, “I don’t need a young one.” At home he’d already concluded that young women don’t marry for nothing. More importantly, they may say that they don’t want children, but there are many years ahead to change their mind.
I rolled my eyes and told him on the way home that guys my age have more sophisticated conversations than this. Or perhaps it’s all the same once you’re single and available.
Between the time of my grandfather’s death and funeral, he went on this peculiar trip to a “nearby city to see some friends”. After the funeral he spent about a week sorting out the estate and financial affairs, before hopping on a plane to the same city again, supposedly on the way home. I was under the impression that this place was close or en route, until I saw on Google Maps that it took 5 hours to get there by high-speed rail.
I called an emergency meeting with his sister and we concluded there must be a woman. My aunt raged about men being hopeless, “Your father is clever but when it comes to these things… 男人的脑子混掉了.”
Meanwhile my sister and I were doing some detective work from home. Her iPad has a linked Apple ID and initially we could see just one photo with a woman’s hands caught behind the food, geotagged to where they were in China. Several days later there was an actual profile photo. Coming home that day my sister stopped me, “Hey sis, gotta show you something, I see a woman!!”
After he came back there were a few months of late-night talks and stories about how interesting this lady was. By that stage he had figured out that my sister could see any saved photos. So instead of having them on the phone album, he was saving them by sending a copy to mum’s WeChat account. “Oh,” I teased as he showed me a photo, “you’re showing mum your girlfriend?” Not that she would be upset. At hospice she had an animated chat with me thinking about which lady friend would be suitable – when he found out what we were talking about he rejected the idea immediately, saying that women were trouble.
Now, the estate was a difficult piece of work and required court to gather all beneficiaries at the start, then again on a later date. So a few months later he went back to China again. Apart from the signing at court on day one, he’d also scheduled extra days “to sort out stuff”. It was fine that he was getting to know this person (of an appropriate age) but I was super annoyed about his holiday coinciding with my sister’s school deadlines, the flu I started getting just before he left, and a week where I had extra work commitments.
The last straw was when he told me over the phone that he wouldn’t attend my settlement as promised. “Can’t go because it’s my first day back at work. It’s alright, just pick up the keys. It’s an old and crap unit, not like anything can change.” You mean you can take a week off for her and not half an hour out of your day for me? That’s it!
But he changed his mind and rocked up. As we were leaving the unit he volunteered, “Don’t worry lah, it’s over, story finished.” He recounted some anecdotes from the trip and the string of things that went wrong from the very beginning to the end. “All I could think about was that song, ‘She’s a Little Princess, little princess, little princess!’ You know the one C used to watch when she was little? Every episode starts with I want… I want…! I said you need to change and she said but you promised to treat me like a princess!” I laughed, what, did you really say that to her?
“I told her yeah, I was taking this seriously but even little princesses need to grow up.” Ouch, that’s harsh. I took the opportunity to remind him who his real princesses were and how grown up they were. “When I got to the airport I blocked her straight away. Then I got a message saying blah blah blah.” How did that happen if she was already blocked? “I blocked her but forgot to block her mobile phone as well.” Oh, you heart breaker!