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Birthdays are great when you are the four-year-old Egg. Not so much when you are a middle-aged man. Yesterday was my birthday. It was all right, thanks to the fact that I managed to avoid any form of candle blowing.
My ex-wife contacted me for the first time after the best part of a decade’s radio silence between us. When I saw her name, it did not register in my lazy mind. Then I opened the profile photo next to the familiarly unfamiliar name… Over the past years, I have made a conscious effort to forget her eyes, every line on her face. Unsuccessfully, I realised as I stared at the picture.
Her message was brief and neutral: “Enjoy your birthday. May you have a great year full of good health.” I felt sick. How is she doing in this time of Covid-19? Does she still have a job? Does she miss our son as much as I do in these days of strictly regulated interprovincial travel? I condensed all my care and concern into two short sentences: “Thank you. I appreciate your kind wishes.”
Earlier in the day, the lovely Snapdragon, my present wife, threatened me with her cooking skills. “Be home early, I’ll cook for you,” she said and gave me a cute smile. Yes, dear reader, I’m not exaggerating: she smiled! I am determined to taste every bite as carefully as is humanly possible. And doubly so if she finds out about the ex’s message.
Google says most poisons taste bitter… Snapdragon thinks it is vital to maintain a friendly relationship with all her exes. The same rule doesn’t apply to me. “It’s because I trust myself,” she explained when I asked her about it years ago. “I trust you too,” I said. “But I don’t trust your exes.” “You damn well shouldn’t,” she agreed for once.
“Most of them are unreliable, cheating bastards.” “Do you trust me?” I asked. “That’s what I admire about you,” she said. “Your sense of humour. There’s a reason why women are your exes,” she said. “It’s because they’re in your past. Keep them there.”
So, when she stirs something on the stove this evening, I will be scared witless. But I will feel butterflies. She did, after all, give me that gorgeous smile when she offered to cook. That smile will be the death of me …
Dirk Lotriet. Picture: Alaister Russell
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CELEBS AND VIRAL