posted December 30, 2010 05:40 PM
If you feel like reading, here is an extract from my book:
Chapter 3: How I met my father.
I met my father for the first time when I was sixteen. I was in Standard nine in high-school, grade 11. The year was 1989. Two big things happened to me that year, 1989: besides meeting my father I was chosen as Die Kruin¡¯s head-girl, which was super-surprising and rather intimidating. I felt quite full of myself: I was the best! I was still a born-again Christian that year, maybe the last year I unquestioningly accepted everything my church had told me.
It was towards the end of the year that I was elected headgirl. The fact is, the teachers, whose votes counted more than students¡¯, voted me in. Now even though I was a born-again Christian I wasn¡¯t a total dork, as is evidenced from my ironic acceptance speech: "It¡¯s a dirty job but somebody¡¯s gotta do it." In 1990 I would be "Hoofmeisie". The cream of the crop. I was happy but very worried... although I had been "hoofmeisie"in primary school as well, I still didn¡¯t know what a hoofmeisie was supposed to do!
The second big thing followed this first huge news: My father, Theo, wanted to meet me. I was game, but apprehensive. This was something I¡¯d thought about for a really long time. And now it was going to happen. It would change everything. It felt weird.
In the short time between when my mom told me Theo would be coming to meet me and the actual date it would happen, I wondered mostly this: whether I would like him or not. I¡¯d had a mental image in my head for a long time and an idea of what he¡¯d be like. I didn¡¯t doubt for a moment that he would like me. I was a very likable person. I also didn¡¯t hold it against him that he hadn¡¯t been there for me throughout my life, and I thought to reassure him on this point if he should bring it up: that I understand and don¡¯t blame him for not being there.
The day came. I was picked up from the hostel and taken to my grandparents¡¯ house in Roodepoort. I was dressed in my school uniform I think, I¡¯m not sure, but I was always in uniform in those days. We waited in the living room. A car came. And before I knew it my biological father walked into the room. What I was feeling was shock and a kind of faintness, and what I thought was that he didn¡¯t look like my father as I¡¯d imagined him. I thought he was ugly. He looked a bit like Prince Charles. His face was to me very feminine and he had a weak chin. He looked like a loser.
The arrangement was that my father would take me out for a meal. It was evening so it would be dinner. After that he¡¯d take me back to school. So we got into his car and drove towards Johannesburg. I can¡¯t remember the car-ride specifically except that I probably relaxed as I always do in cars. It¡¯s the being a passenger thing. What I¡¯m sure my father was saying in the car was stuff like how good it is to meet me etc. In the darkness of the car driving towards Johannesburg I didn¡¯t feel any worse than weird, if you know what I mean. My father wanted to know where I wanted to go. I said that I wanted to go to my favorite restaurant, Mike¡¯s kitchen. It¡¯s like a steak and ribs house with an awesome salad-bar. It was a franchise but I especially like the branch in Johannesburg, which looked like a big New Orleans double story house with balconies and trellises etc. For me it was the mecca of eating out, the ultimate treat. We went in and were shown to a table on the outer circle which was sort of like used to be the porch of the house, so it had a view of the night outside. Perfect. The weather was beautiful and I loved as I still do the night-air.
My father took my hands in his burned-up hands (he¡¯d been in an accident involving fire) and told me, looking into my eyes with those eyes of his which looked to me exactly like mine and told me he was so sorry for the fact that he hadn¡¯t been there for me. He said, and this is more or less verbatim, that he would be lying if he said that he had thought of me every day for the past sixteen years, but that he did think of me often, and he feels sorry that it took his being in a fire and nearly dying to bring about our meeting each other.
I again felt sorry for him and moved by his speech. I wasn¡¯t crazy about him holding my hands, but hey, I felt sorry for him. So I took my hands away as politely as I could. He would go on talking, and then say: "Gee my jou hande". Give me your hands. He turned my hands around in his and said, "jy het mooi hande". You have beautiful hands.
He went on to praise me high and low for being so clever and successful and level headed and beautiful, and he didn¡¯t neglect by any means praising his own genes for having produced such a beautiful daughter. I felt strange but happy in a way... I could definately see that he was my father and I was appreciating how much he was appreciating me. But even though I was in a way happy it was also really very uncomfortable and almost too intense. It might have gone better if Theo didn¡¯t then suggest that we change venue. I was surprised. But basically out of the blue he said that this place, Mike¡¯s Kitchen, my absolutely favorite eatingplace, was basically a dump. He suggested that we go to his hotel, City Lodge, and have dinner there.
That really upset me. I really loved Mike¡¯s Kitchen. But my father clearly thought it was miles beneath him. He didn¡¯t try to disguise how rich he was, compared to me and my mom, even though he had never contributed a cent to my education, food, housing, or anything of that sort. So off we went to the City Lodge and had what I felt was a very uncomfortable dinner there, during which Theo told me all about his family. That¡¯s when I started thinking of him as an ******* , albeit a rich ******* . I totally couldn¡¯t understand why he had wanted to eat here... a place which seemed to me claustrophobic and dull. He held my hands again and talked of how fortunate he was to have a wonderful daughter like me.
That dinner seemed to last forever and it was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. It was like I could nothing but just sit there and eat my tasteless food. I don¡¯t remember what I ordered. I basically just wanted to get out of there and go home. Back to the "koshuis". Back to my boarding school. This wasn¡¯t how I imagined my meeting with my father would go. Not that I really had details in my head of how it would go if one day I met him, but one has ideas in one¡¯s mind, put there by movies I imagine, of what should happen. For me it felt like I was meeting a stranger. It was dull, like the dominee (church minister) coming to visit your house. He was just another random adult in my life.
The only thing which marked this meeting as the momentous occasion it was was the fact that I looked so much like him, which was disappointing because to me he was really unattractive. But as I said, he had this feminine face, so hopefully the features looked better on me then and look better on me now. I mean it¡¯s not that we look exactly alike ... how can I put it ... if you¡¯ve seen the resemblance between Angelina Jolie and her father John Voight, you¡¯ll know what I mean. It¡¯s traces around the mouth and face.So I knew this man was my father, but he didn¡¯t feel familiar to me at all. He was just a stranger with my face.
Finally the dinner was over and Theo drove me back to the koshuis. By now it was quite late, I guess it was close to 10 pm, and the school gates and koshuis gates were locked. Fortunately I knew of a way in. If you drove up to the school¡¯s entrance, you could get down on your belly and crawl under the one school gate, which, being set on a slope, was higher than the other. Kids who sneaked out to Hillbrow at night used this entrance/ exit... not that I ever sneaked out of course, but I knew about it. So I told my father to drive on up to the school front gates, and I crawled under the gate on my belly in my school uniform and blazer.
Theo thought this was excellent... he, being quite the rebel himself, was pleased I guess that his daughter wasn¡¯t only a stuck-up prig, but was capable of katte-kwaad (being naughty). He laughed admiringly and so we said our goodbyes and I was so glad when he drove away. I made my way back to my hostel room. The koshuis would still have been open I guess if I managed to get there at a time when the doors to the dormitories were still open so maybe it wasn¡¯t that late. As I remember we usually got locked in at 10 pm, when it was time for "lights out". I went to my room, got undressed, and went to sleep. The next day was school and exams were approaching. I feel asleep. I woke up. I went to school. But my life had changed and I knew it. I now too had a father. I knew him. I felt very weird. I can compare it to years later coming down from drugs. But I had to go on as normal. At school the next day I couldn¡¯t concentrate to save my life.
I don¡¯t remember exactly whether it was the next day that I decided to bunk school, or a few days after. But the point is, I decided to bunk school. Bunk means "stay away from" ... "stokkiesdraai". I can¡¯t remember ever having done such a thing on purpose. The fact of the matter was that I truly couldn¡¯t concentrate on my studies at school. This wouldn¡¯t have been a problem if exam time hadn¡¯t been just around the corner. That meant that we had no classes during the day .... we went to school and stayed in one classroom and studied all day long for the upcoming exams.
Schoolwork was quite difficult at that point. It was standard nine, which is the 11thgrade. Quite complicated math and science, and lots of stuff to memorize for Anatomy, which was one of my ballet related subjects. Plus also computer science, which I took as an extra subject after school. So I really needed to concentrate. What really got me down was chemistry because there was a lot of stuff to just learn by rote, and all pretty nonsensical in itself unless you¡¯ve had years of experience as a chemist. What happens whenthis molecule and that molecule come into contact with each other ... well one electron gets kicked over to that orbit and then the little 2 above the C or the O or the H becomes a little 3 or something. There was logic to it but I had to push and work my mind to get the logic into it. Except my mind wouldn¡¯t work. This is a feeling that came over me unfortunately again in later years at university and for me it was terrifying. I would try to memorize something and I couldn¡¯t. I would try to read and I couldn¡¯t remember. The stuff was just not going into my head, no matter how hard I tried.
Of course I knew the feeling well, I mean, studying is hard and you¡¯ve gotta make yourself do it, but this inability to get over the bump was entirely new, as was the rising panic that accompanied it. After all this wasn¡¯t for fun, although I did usually enjoy studying. This was for exams. Standard nine exams. Final big exams before matric. And remember, after having given up ballet I wanted to go into the sciences... so this was my future, my career. So what was I to do.
What bought me peace finally was the decision to feign illness the next day so that I could stay in my room at boarding school, in my koshuis room, to study there on my own at my desk with breaks for tea and coffee, to be made with the ever-present life-saving koshuis kettle every koshuis "inmate"had. I knew it was being around the other scholars that was making it more difficult for me to get over my mental block, and I knew if I were left alone a dayor two to catch up on my studies alone I¡¯d be back to normal. So the next day I told my friend and roommate to tell the teachers at breakfast and at school that I was feeling sick and would stay in bed that day. I was nervous but more than nervous I was truly anxious to be alone. So all the kids departed for school and I had a glorious morning studying and making progress with my chemistry from the comfort of my own bed and desk. I started feeling good again. The Christine study-machine was back.
At midmorning the math teacher, Miss Smit, came into my koshuis room and informed me that I had to get dressed right away and go up to school to see the principal. In short, they hadn¡¯t bought my story and I was in trouble. With a heavy heart and fear and trembling inside I did as I was told. I went up to school in my uniform, feeling mortified. Feeling the eyes of all the kids on me surely, for it was a small school and I was the head-girl elect. Imagine Barack Obama getting caught with a Monica Lewinsky even before he had been sworn into office. I¡¯m not exaggerating. That¡¯s how huge and bad it felt to me. I went into Mr. Van Schalkwyk, the principal¡¯s office, and he gave me a moderately stern but yet fatherly and understanding talking-to. To him I said that it was true I wasn¡¯t really sick, but that I had wanted to study alone because I couldn¡¯t concentrate in the classroom among the other students. Then I went back to my classroom and sat staring at my books until the end of the schoolday, numb and unable to take anything in.
After school there was ballet practice, always painful for this failed ballerina. We were rehearsing The Nutcracker. After the long long long and boring rehearsal (boring for me because I didn¡¯t get to do much but prance around doing baby steps with the other snowflakes) I put my school uniform on over my ballet tights and leotard and made my weary and dismal way down to the the koshuis for dinner.
Waiting for me in front of Huis Koot kruger, which had been my residence the previous year, and which was also his home, was Mr. Pretorius, the vice-principal, a brutal man who some years later shot and killed his wife and himself. Mr. Pretorius¡¯s favorite saying was: "Ek verloor nie ¡®n rondte teen ¡®n skoolkind nie": I don¡¯t lose a round against aschool-child. He was the kind of guy who, in addition to the ubiquitous corporal punishment that was legitimate in those days, wopuld shove the boys around and scream at them, or grab them by the front of their shirts and glare at their faces through his thick glasses, only to then throw them against the wall roughly. Everyone was a bit scared of him, and he sure made us all feel uncomfortable with his violent temper tantrums.
Mr. Pretorius was clearly waiting for me. I told myself over and over: just don¡¯t cry. Just don¡¯t cry. He watched me walking all the way down from school, probably about three hundred meters. What a feeling for drama he had. Finally I reached him and he said he needed to talk to me and would I come into his office. No prizes for guessing what the talk was going to be about. He marched me silently into his office and bade me politely to sit down, which I did, uncomfortably, in front of his desk. All the while my mantra was simply: don¡¯t cry don¡¯t cry don¡¯t cry. Then he proceeded to rearrange the papers on his desk in a very dramatic way, all the while not looking at me at all.
What interrogation technique. He should have been in the CIA or the FBI or something. Then, finally finished with the preliminaries, he folded his hands and, in one long sentence, filled to the brim with hate, informed me that I was the worst headgirl ever chosen in this school and that there was no way in which I would ever manage to rise to my duty as headgirl and it is simply shocking that a headgirl, who is supposed to set an example for the other students should have committed such a vile affront upon the school as to stay away and in bed with a fake illness.
He went on and on for a bit longer, and I can¡¯t recall the details exactly, but he was being as mean as mean could be in the interests of my own moral education. I sat looking at him with a blank face until finally he said: "So what do you have to say for yourself?"Whereupon I toppled forward out of the chair as a huge silent sob literally took my breath away and made me heave and spasm on the floor with tears. I honestly couldn¡¯t breathe, I was crying so hard. I couldn¡¯t get up off the floor. It was as if I had been felled by a grief beyond imagining. I was gasping for air and I tried to talk but I couldn¡¯t. Just these dry spasm as my lungs lurched for breath and tears streamed down my face. I don¡¯t know if I was making a sound of crying. Perhaps not. Just... I couldn¡¯t breathe.
Poor Mr. Pretorius. I bet he¡¯d never seen anything like it. He was shocked and immediatly softened and hurried to help me back into the chair and get me tissues. It probably took me ten minutes before I could stop crying enough to tell him that I had met my father for the first time a few nights ago and since then I hadn¡¯t been able to concentrate on studying and that¡¯s why I had wanted to stay in my room just for a day to pull myself together. Mr. Pretorius said that in that case `i should have called my mom to take me home. I said I hadn¡¯t thought of it. I missed supper thatevening but I managed to get to study hall that night and I slept and had breakfast the next day and went to class and sort of studied there and at the end of that year I got an A for chemistry and physics and math and computer science and everything else, as usual. A C for ballet of course.
I liked Mr. Pretorius a little bit more after that day, though I still must say he¡¯s the kind of teacher that should never have become a teacher. He was idiot but still human it seemed and capable of actual passion, or else why would he have killed himself and his wife? If I were to compare him to my dad I would say he¡¯s about a million times better than my dad, who never once showed me even a tenth of the compassion Mr. Pretorius showed me in the office that day whenhe brought me tissues to dry my tears and helped me back into his office chair.
After that day I didn¡¯t see Theo again for a while, although he called me sometimes at school, and during those awkward conversations he said I should call him Theo. I wasn¡¯t calling him anything. Not Dad, not nothing. I just didn¡¯t address him at all. Even later I didn¡¯t. I didn¡¯t like calling him by his name, although I was used to calling my mom by her name, Leonie. With Theo it just didn¡¯t come. So I spoke to him always ina very roundabout way with only the most limited use of pronouns. Life went on and I kind of forgot about him. My matric resluts at the end of 1990 delivered only 4 of the desired and hoped for 6 A¡¯s I¡¯d been expecting. A B for science. A B for Math. You could almost say it was a tragedy.
Chapter 4: Uvongo.
After school was over, and I was finally free of uniforms and regulations, I wanted to take a year off, because I was really tired of studying. I¡¯d made up my mind to go into medicine, genius that I was, not because I specifically wanted to heal people, but because I was really fascinated by the working human body and I wanted to learn more about it. But first I would let my brain rest. Since my mom and David, her second husband, and Sean, were all staying in Stellenbosch I had to stay with my grandparents during my matric year, and I would stay with them a little bit longer before relocating to Stellenbosch myself.
Since I wanted to earn some money for myself, I decided to enquire about a job at theHyperama, a gigantic shopping center close to where my grandparents stayed then. I had to walk about 25 minutes to get to work from my grandparents cluster home, but I didn¡¯t mind. It made me feel free. The job at the Hyperama was mind-numbingly boring and the pay abysmal, but for me it felt like an adventure. I mean, I really HATED working there but at the same time I sort of liked hating it. The hours were really really long for me, especially on Friday nights when the store stayed open till 8pm. I started out as a till controller, which is the person who goes up to the till if the cashier flashes their light to say they had made a mistake. I, and the other till controllers, then had to inset the key and turn it so that the wrong amount could be taken off. It wasn¡¯t a job that required a lot of skill. Basically you just had to stand around ... for a looooooong time, and now and then turn a key in someone¡¯s till.
Also if there were problems with checks or credit cards I had to check people¡¯s ID or call mycontroller. This job really sucked. It was like torture. So boring. More exciting was being a cashier, which I got to do next. Those were the days long before bar codes were being scanned in, so it was like sitting typing numbers. And you got to see what everyone bought. It was somehow soothing. Being the packer, the person who puts all the groceries into plastic bags, was more challenging than you might think, and also mind-numbingly boring. Sometimes I felt like crying by about 7pm on Friday nights when the queus of people just wouldn¡¯t stop. Why did I do this job? I think it was for the independence. Frequently in my life I pushed myself through a kind of hell just to taste the sweet freedom of being away from the claustrophobic atmosphere of my family, my school, my fascist scented country.
At the hyperama I guess I really got to interact with black people for the first time in my life in situations that didn¡¯t involve them being either maids or gardeners. One guy tried to strike up a friendship with me when he asked about getting him a job. I still remember his name. The first black person you could say I ever "met" formally. Andile. I wasn¡¯t able to swing a job for him though. I mean, I told my controller there was a guy looking for a job and was told no jobs were available. So Andile asked me if I would phone him if I heard of another job and I said yes. So I kept his name and phone number but I didn¡¯t get to hear of another job at the hyperama.
This was 1991, three years before the 1994 fall of apartheid. As far as jobs went I got lucky though because I struck up another acquaintance with an Indian guy who had a watch company called Malco, so I was able to quit my job as cashier at the Hyperama and become a watch saleslady at Malco¡¯s store, or stall, in the Hyperama. So I was still hearing the same canned music all day long but at least again I got to do nothing except now and then sell a watch or fix someone¡¯s watch-strap. Again, mind-numbingly boring. But the pay was better... a R1000 a month. Nowadays that would be a hundred dollars. Back then it was a fortune.
At the hyperama I was getting R6 an hour which would have added up to about R50 a day and with the number of hours I worked I got about R800 a month. I think I worked at the hyperama for about four months and at Malco for about two months. I had heard later in my life that it had been rumored that Christine, the genius student, was selling watches in the station. No doubt it was meant to be a cautionary tale to scholars who would try too hard, but anyway, there was some truth in it after all. I would just like to stress that that was voluntary. If people had wanted to spread stories about me though my life would have given them ample opportunity later.
The plan was that I would go to stay with my mom in Stellenbosch and that later that year Theo would take me overseas and I¡¯d stay with him for a while before starting med school. While I worked at the Hyperama I was courted by a fellow who worked in the computer section of the mega-store. His name was Richard. He called me Little Miss Muffet. I went out with him to a bar and club one night in Johannesburg. Before taking me out he was interrogated by my grandfather, which he wasn¡¯t pleased about. We went out and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, although I felt rather out of place. I felt free however.
Richard bought me home at four the next morning. My grandparents were up. They had called the police. They thought something terrible must have happened. Four am in the morning was totally unthinkable as a time for coming home. Eleven would have been good, twelve OK, one two or three caused to sit up and worry. At four am, just before we came back, they had called the police to report me missing. Richard and me were given a talking to and after that I had to see him suruptitiously. When I wouldn¡¯t have sex with Richard he lost interest in me. I guess he realized quickly how green I was.
Once when we fooled around, which was a huge step for me anyway, on a night when I told my grandparents I¡¯d be staying with a girlfriend of mine after attending a German class in the city, he said to me: "Wow, you¡¯re really horny, huh?" I said: "What¡¯s horny"? I guess the books I read had never used the word because I honestly didn¡¯t know what it meant. Richard thought I was joking and when he realized I wasn¡¯t he sighed in exasperation. He was distant after that and busy and didn¡¯t want to go out and I was sad but accepting. As my aunt Esme and I made our way down to Stellenbosch, for she¡¯s the one who gave me a liftthere, kind of like a South African road trip, I was still pining for Richard.
Once in Stellenbosch the first wave of full blown depression hit me. I had been kept busy for the first part of my life: every hour had been regulated with near military precision. Now I was finally at leisure. I had so many things I wanted to do. I wanted to write. But I couldn¡¯t write. I couldn¡¯t watch TV. I couldn¡¯t sleep. I could eat though, although all food tasted awful. I couldn¡¯t stop eating. I raided the fridge every half hour. I put on a few pounds.
My mom was going through a bad patch with David, her second husband. In a fit of Christian charity she had donated our house in Johannesburg North to our church. Mark Demos¡¯s parents, Andy and Ruth were now living in it.My mom was on the verge of bankruptcy though, because David turned out to be a lazy good for nothing lay-about. A Christian bum, but a bum nevertheless. So she wrote to the church to explain her situation and say she needed to sell the house. The church wasn¡¯t happy. They wrote her a nasty letter. That night my mother banged her head against the wall. I couldn¡¯t sleep. Not long after that I decided to try smoking to wean me off my food addiction. I bought my first packet of cigarettes in a small corner shop in Stellenbosch. I asked for Paul Revere cigarettes, men¡¯s cigarettes actually, but there were horses in the ads and I like horses. In those days there were still cigarette ads.
I got my picture taken for my passport wearing a little make-up, in which Ithought I looked stupid. I also thought I looked fat in the photo. And sad. And in that mood finally I went up to Uvongo, a holiday town on the south coast of what was then Natal, a tropical climate Hawaii-like province, to stay with my dad in his big empty house (his wife had moved out and only his oldest son, a teenager, named Rowan) was staying with him. The house had a view of the sea. A distant view but a view nevertheless.
Arriving in Theo¡¯s world was very strange for me. I hadn¡¯t really known whatto expect. It was like going on a blind date, I guess. Not that I want to imply that already there was something like a possible relationship before my mind¡¯s eye. Nothing could have been further from my mind, of course. It¡¯s the "blind" in blind date that I want to emphasize: When you go on a blind date it has usually been set up for you by people both parties to the date know. So in this case, my mom knew Theo and this was good enough for me. Little did I know that my mom didn¡¯t like Theo very much at all. In fact one might say she hated him. What with his reaction to my birth, the incredulity he felt that it could be his child, the lack-luster proposal of marraige, as I was later to find out, and the total lack of support ... well. There you go. But like I said my mom kept these feelings to herself always with the express intention that should I wish to meet my father I¡¯d be able to make up my opwn mind about it. Now at this stage in my life I still hadn¡¯t really developed that urge that many people feel to get to know their biological parent. The first meeting had come upon me at a time when there was so much else going on in my life that I said yes without really thinking about it. In fact, I guess that has always been my style: to say yes, whatever, instead of thinking ... uhm, do I wanna do this or not. Maybe it¡¯s just because things tended to happen to me that way ... I went with the flow usually because I had little choice. So the set up to meet Theo was quite strange, and so that¡¯s why I felt like a person going on a blind date I guess. Apprehensive, yet curious. I wanted to get away from the depression of Stellenbosch. I wanted to sort of escape from many different things. Since I had only seen Theo a few times so far, this would be in the sense the first real getting-to-know-you, getting-to-know-all-about-you time that I would have with my natural father.
My first impression I guess was awe. Not at Theo, but at his world. Let me try to explain:
I was said goodbye to at Cape Town airport by my mom and David, and they felt to me in a way like strangers too because of the time which I hadn¡¯t spent with them, the new-ness of David, the new-ness of Stellenbosch. I felt I was saying goodbye to one set of strangers in order to go and meet another stranger.I felt a total disconnect from my parents at this time in my life. They weren¡¯t very parenty parents. They weren¡¯t like movie parents. You know? I didn¡¯t feel like I was leaving home in other words. Stellenbosch was not home to me yet, so I felt like a traveller in transit in a strange place anyway.
Then I was met in Durban at the airport by Theo, another stranger, my ¡®blind date¡¯, my natural father. Theo drove us back to his house in his old model shiny green Mercedes. It¡¯s a long drive from Durban to Margate and its suburb Uvongo. It was a beautiful drive, much of it along the coast. It was like arriving in Miami, or L.A. or the South of France, or some other huge holiday destination. As a Johannesburg inlander seeing the ocean was always exciting to me, and although usually our family went to the Western Cape for holidays, I had been in Durban a couple of times, and in Margate maybe once long ago. Margate you could say is like Venice beach ... just on a smaller scale. This was surfer country, bikini town, laze around in the sun and getting brown-ville. But I wasn¡¯t there on holiday. I was there to get to know Theo, my father.
I visited the beach during the day to swim and tan, but with no people there it felt strange. Uvongo beach, though beautiful, wastotally deserted at that time of year. My depression stayed with me but I slowly got used to it. I started jogging around the house, which was hard work in that humid climate. I watched TV by myself during the day when Rowan was at school and Theo at work. On weekends Theo took me to Durban to go drinking. I saw the movie The Doors and was mesmerized by it. I listened to U2 over and over and started liking it. Theo had the record. I had an occasional secret cigarette. I looked forward to the Europe trip. I don¡¯t think my post-school depression ever really lifted entirely. I just learned how to live with it. As I slowly got used to Theo and Rowan and the scene in Margate and Uvongo. By scene I mean Theo¡¯s scene. He took me drinking and visiting his buddiesand we even went to the casino once where Theo told me bad-boy stories about himself and we gambled away in minutes, hell, in seconds, the cost of my school clothes and my ballet shoes.
I did begin to trust Theo however. Two things I remember caused me to think him rather endearing, or sweet, if you may. I mean these things sort of made me smile inside and think he wasn¡¯t so bad. One of the first things we did when I arrived in Uvongo was to go shopping for groceries. I was sort of shy to say what I though we should get, but Theo encouraged me to say what I wanted. I suggested Milo. It¡¯s a kind of cacao drink you make with warm milk, and it was always one of my favourite things. In me and my mom and my brother¡¯s budget it was sometimes too expensive though. I thought of Milo as a luxury. So I seriously worried that Theo would say it¡¯s a waste of money. He looked at the price and said, well, it¡¯s cheaper than a bottle of whiskey, and said I could get it. I thought that was funny. I guess I didn¡¯t realize then that he was always saying things like that meaning it to be funny, but after the 100th joke about alcohol it¡¯s not so funny anymore.
The other thing I thought was endearing was Theo¡¯s jogging technique. He insisted he and I go jogging in the mornings at dawn, then have breakfast on the balcony overlooking the sea, yoghurt and fruit and muesli, before he went to work. He was trying to get healthy. Looking back this memory is also tinged for me with judgement of him. He was trying to get into shape to pick up girls. Typical mid-life scenario. But be that as it may, Theo¡¯s jogging technique: he had this weird five beat gait timed to a sequence of in and out breaths: something like "left breathe out, right breathe out, left breathe in, right breathe in, left breathe in". So you went like, whoosh, whoosh, in, in, in through the nose, whoosh whoosh out through the mouth, in in in through the nose. The idea is that you developed a rhythm where the inbreath was different each time ... I mean on a different foot, left, then right. It was supposed to be hypnotic. For years after that I jogged according to this rythm. Neither the shopping expeditions together nor the jogging together lasted more than a month.
I¡¯m sure many people wonder what it¡¯s like to meet yourbiological parent for the first time when you already are more or less grown and have your reason and personality pretty much formed. Many people who have been adopted and then went in search of their biological parent or parents, or people in some other way separated from, and later united with, their birth parent, may have had a different experience to mine on the whole, but I suspect an aspect of the experience must be universally the same. For me to get to know who my father is was like becoming a different person myself.
Imagine someone comes up to you one day and says, guess what, you are actually the long lost prince or princess of this or that obscure little country in the middle of nowhere. You are heir to the throne and must come and face your destiny immediately. It¡¯s sort of like that. Suddenly you realize you are not who you thought you were. You are, in fact, and have always been, unbeknownst to you, someone else.
Since I can¡¯t know for certain whether it was the same for others I¡¯ll stick to the first person experience. Before I went to Uvongo, I was one person. After I arrived in Uvongo I was someone else. That¡¯s the way I experienced it. I didn¡¯t know anyone there, and no one there knew me. But they had the advantage over me for they knew of me. I was Theo¡¯s illegitimate daughter, the child he¡¯d had long before he got married.
Before Uvongo I was the class whiz, the quiet Christian bookworm, Die Kruin¡¯s headgirl. In Uvongo I was a rich girl with blonde surfer brothers. What remained the same was that everyone found me charming. Along with Theo¡¯s face and mannerisms, I had inherited Theo¡¯s charisma.
What was disorientating about this shift in personal identity was that I found it hard to find the pre-Uvongo me in myself. For example, I¡¯d always been able to keep myself busy by losing myself in reading. In Uvongo, no matter how I tried, reading was hard going. It was as if books refused to yield their wonder to me. Frustratingly, I didn¡¯t find many activities to replace my old past-times. Probably the only thing I picked up and made my own was how to play pool. Theo explained the geometry of it to me at the golf club, where we didn¡¯t go to play golf, but, surprise surprise, to drink. I spent most of my time observing Margate¡¯s bold and beautiful, my father¡¯s circle of friends, all of whom were also rich, and to my mind, rather debauched, like him, yet nice and interesting. It was a little like being in the midst of a soap opera. Another new thing was skiing. Theo had a motorboat and skiing gear and on weekends we¡¯d go to the river where I¡¯d learn to ski. It was fun. No denying that. I could never pick up slalom skiing thought. That¡¯s where you do it on one ski only, a bigger ski which works almost like a skateboard on water. Theo and my blonde brothers were all slalom experts.
My first job in Margate was as telemarketer for a time-share resort, La Cote-d¡¯Azur. I wasn¡¯t very good at it because I hated bugging people. We had to phone people and tell them they¡¯d won a prize, which was a weekend free at La Cote d¡¯Azur, with the understanding they¡¯d have to listen to a sales pitch at the end of their two night stay. It¡¯s astounding how many people turned it down actually. I mean, I know it was tele-marketing, it was what it was, but still, a free weekend at a resort! I would have taken it if my name had come up on the credit card lists we worked from. The work was if possible even worse than packing groceries at the Hyperama. My charisma didn¡¯t translate over the phone lines and I wasn¡¯t a hard seller so my commission was dismal. But the surroundings were astonishing. It was like working on the French Riviera, or in Miami or L.A. or something. I mean, this was a holiday town. Sun and sea and surf in the air all day long. The shy bookworm hadn¡¯t quite turned into a beach babe yet. But I felt different because I was different. A part of me stayed unchanged, what I would call my soul. But my personality altered. The part of my identity defined by what surrounded me was completely new. It¡¯s hard for me to say what the new content of this identity was. Maybe it was just an open space that had yet to be filled. But there wasn¡¯t really space for the old me in it.
Chapter 5 : Switzerland
We landed in Paris on a grey, cloudy day and I was immediatly amazedby how different it all was. I was enthralled. This was definately a different country. Everything was so foreign. We checked into our little hotel, where we would, for reasons of economy, Theo explained, stay in the same room. There were twin beds. The first thing I remember us doing in Paris was eating breakfast. Such a simple breakfast but so delicious. Bread, French bread, not the boring little square loaf slices I called bread, but bread with soul! That was the main thing basically. Bread. And coffee. And you could put butter and strawberry jam on it, or cheese if you wanted to. Continental breakfasts rule!
The second thing I remember us doing, or maybe it was the first, because it was at night, and maybe we went to do this straight off the plane, like first thing, because I remember it was at night: So Theo said we should go and explore Paris. He had been there before so he would be the tour guide, trying to remember where everything was on the complicated map of Paris. Soon we found our way to what Theo called the "red-light district", which Theo laughingly said might be interesting. Interesting, yeah. I was no stranger to South African porn ... which had only recently taken off the stars from nipples. And I had read plenty of sex scenes in plenty of books. But I totally could not see the appeal of the gyneacological exhibitions of the red-light district.
Here were girls on posters spreading their legs as wide as possible, and using their fingers to spread their vaginas open even wider. I was like, OK, I get it, X marks the spot, insert tab A into slot B! I totally couldn¡¯t fathom how this might be a turn on. Theo was laughing happily at the sight, commenting that it was really absurd. We also spent some time standing in front of a window display of leather, chains, whips and cuffs. All very amusing. Then we found our way to a small bar where there was a show, not porn though, just a stand-up comedian telling jokes we wouldn¡¯t uinderstand at our expense. When we eventually got back to the hotel it was locked. We had stayed out past the hotel¡¯s curfew, so we spent the rest of the night wandering around Paris until dawn came, sitting in shops drinking coffee and eating cake. Fortunately dawn came soon, because it was summer, so we had only a few hours to kill. Then back to the hotel. Maybe it was then that we had the bread breakfast.
The next day I was ready to go and see Paris. I wanted to go to the Eiffell tower. Theo said it was a tourist trap and not worth the effort. OK, I said, how about in that case the Louvre. Whereupon Theo basically set out the plan for our European vacation... it turned out that he wasn¡¯t interested in all the sites, but he would give me money and I could go where I wanted, while he would find some bar to sit in and drink and relax. Weird, I though, but I wasn¡¯t going to say no to seeing Paris. So Theo gave me money and directions more or less as to how to get to the Louvre. Or maybe he took me there, I can¡¯t remember. What I do know is that I checked out the Louvre all alone, and that was cool. I saw the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, and it was awesome.
Well, the Mona Lisa was stuck behind really thick plexiglass and was smaller than I¡¯d imagined, but still, it was The Mona Lisa. THE Mona Lisa. The Venus de Milo was also satisfyingly real. The Louvre to me was like a temple. Wide open white spaces, stairs going on for ever, up and down great hallways. It was really really really great. I coudn¡¯t see everything so basically I just sort of wandered around and let things jump out at me. I was very impressed. Theo came and picked me up at the appointed time we¡¯d agreed upon, and we went out to have lunch. It was hugely expensive.
Theo did not stop pointing out for a moment how expensive things were. A cup of coffee cost twentytimes what it would in South Africa. So we sort of tried to have simple fare. It became the recurring refrain of the trip from Theo¡¯s side, how expensive everything was. It made me realize that the compared to the Europeans Theo wasn¡¯t as rich as I¡¯d thought. Anyhow, no matter, I didn¡¯t need expensive meals. The experience was enough.
Subsequently we would buy food from supermarkets. I was again sent out by myself to scout for food, and I was amazed at how everything in the French supermarkets was in French. Different, unrecognizable brands. Go figure. It was almost as exciting as the Louvre. Sidewalk tables laden with fruits and cherries were very appealing, and I managed to buy some cherries, although the language issue made me feel very embarrassed. I soon realized it was better to communicate in Afrikaans, because the Parisiens either did not understand English or did not want to understand English. The Louvre and the Paris Library and the Notre Dame were the only sights we visited, and Theo didn¡¯t enter the Louvre, as I¡¯ve said.
He went with me to the Notre Dame though. I was struck silent by the atmosphere of the old church. It felt as if I could breathe the middle ages. And that was it for Paris basically. Theo wanted to scoot over to London next. We talked about what else we could see, and, realizing Theo¡¯s interests diverged significantly from mine, I tried to find a common ground by suggesting we go to a show at the Moulin Rouge. For me it would be a typical Paris spot to visit, and for Theo withhis interest in red-light districts he could find the origins of red-light districts. But no, Theo explained to me, going to the Moulin Rouge would be basically just as expensive as going over to London and seeing what it was like there.
I picked to forego London and see a Moulin Rouge show. We went to London. Theo reasoned that as an experience it would be far greater than the Moulin Rouge and I might never have an opportunity to see London again. So we crossed the English channel and arrived in London,where again we stayed in a single room with twin beds. The first thing I remember about London was switching on the Telly and getting a very weird episode with a surreal dwarf, which I later found out was an episode of Twin Peaks. Looking back I think that was a very appropriate thing to see on TV at that time, because over the next days my life would become pretty surreal too. The procedure from Paris was repeated, whereby I was given money to go out and see the sights while Theo planted himself in a pub for the day. I couldn¡¯t find Buckingham Palace but I did go to the Beatles Museum, Madame Tussauds and I saw the Big Ben. The thing Theo and I did together was to go and see Cats. I had wanted to see The Phantom of the Opera, but was told it was too expensive. Cats was cool though. Really cool. I loved it. Then Theo got ants in his pants again and we caught the ferry back to France and got the train from Paris through Italy to our actual conference destination, Switzerland.
On this train journey the trip started tasting sour to me for real. I was eaten up by a kind of boredom and listlessness, and I was tired and not feeling myself. Theo slept through the night in our sleeper compartment on the train, but I couldn¡¯t sleep. I stood in the small corridor looking out the window at the night, feeling very strange and sick. It was depression. I¡¯d had the feeling in Stellenbosch and it was back. A combination of panic and feeling so distanced from myself that it was hard to imagine who I was. I couldn¡¯t sleep, couldn¡¯t think, couldn¡¯t do anything. Every second lasted a minute, every minute lasted an hour. I was not a happy camper. I cannot stress enough how bad I felt that night on the train and how I fervently wished for morning to come or for something to happen to snap me out of this darkness which I could not explain and which I didn¡¯t know the origin of.
Morning did come, and I had gotten a few hours of sleep, and so I felt much better. We were in Switzerland, which was beautiful beyond imagining. During thenight we had travelled through Italy, which looked to me run down and uninspiring from the train. The clear air of the Swiss landscape, the clear, clear waters, the brightness of it all, was to me nothing less than astonishing. I had never ever seen anything like it before. As we passed rivers and streams and water flowing through troughs in the towns I could not get over how clean and translucent the water was, how it flowed so strongly. Suddenly I was in a bettr mood, although the depression of the nightbefore was still in my mind. Our destination was the small village of Witznau on Lake Zurich, and so we had to get to Zurich first in order to catch a boat to Witznau. We arrived in Zurich and the impression of cleanliness was imprinted even deeper in my mind.
Never before had I seen a place where not a single speck of trash, not a ciggarette butt, not a scrap of paper, not even a match or a twig lay upon the cobblestones. We made our way to the boat station, where we¡¯d have to wait a while for the boat to come. It was right on the water so I was happy. And hungry. Well not hungry so much as needing to eat to quiten my emotions and my mind. Everything for sale looked so delicious. As usual I felt indebted to Theo for buying breakfast. I think I had sausages and coffee. Very phallic sausages I might add. I¡¯ve always had a weakness for them, and these ones looked so plump and delicious, and I¡¯m sure they were. I¡¯m mentioning this not so much to show whatever hidden symbolism might have been in that moment, but to show how in retrospect none of memories are free of connotations they would normally not have had. While I was indulging my need for comfort food, Theo was indulging his own ego¡¯s needs. Sitting at the same cafeteria waiting for the same boat, I think, were two Swiss or German women.
Theo started flirting with them and they flirted back, and I would not have noticed that one of them had a hole in her stocking, or skipants, whatever she was wearing, it was black and clung closely to her leg, if Theo hadn¡¯t pointed it out, saying how sexy it was. Theo often talked to me about what he found attractive in women and about the many adventures he¡¯d had with them. I inwardly rolled my eyes. What I found mildly distasteful was his attraction to an imagined sluttiness which wasn¡¯t actually there. These were two relaxed, perfectly decent women just waiting for the damn boat like everyone else and enjoying the flattery of an apparently eligible man.
Well I certainly didn¡¯t see these two women as slutty. They smoked. One had a hole in her black skipants. They were just women. I ignored Theo as much as I could and let my eyes feast on the beautiful lake and the beautiful mountain in the beautiful sunlight. Slowly a strange thing started happening to me: having delved into the Celestine prophecies I can say that this was a peak experience. Having been a drug addict I can say it was like tripping on LSD. Although at this stage of my life I had never done any drugs except alcohol, with Theo I might add. But I wasn¡¯t drunk that morning. Just tired fvrom the previous nights despair, and cast into a situation where I felt alone, in a good way, isolated within my own mind. The scenery became ever brighter and more beautiful, as if it were shouting. By the time we had gotten onto the boat I was in an ecstacy of beauty.
I had never ever before been so overwhelmed by what I can only call the glorious glory of nature, the painful transcendent beauty of colours. As the boat travelled slowly across the lake towards the mountain, a trip of about an hour or more I¡¯d say, and while Theo was off somewhere doing his thing, chatting up the slutty girls from the cafeteria if indeed they had come aboard, I can¡¯t remember, I wished that the moment would never end. I felt an enormous inner peace growing around my inner despair and darkness, like a pearl growing around a bit of dust, making my personal sadness unimportant.
But of course the moment had to end for we arrived at our side of the lake and sat for a while at yet another small outdoor restaurant under shady trees before we¡¯s walk up to our hotel. The conference was being held at a smart hotel on one side of the village, which Theo said he couldn¡¯t afford, so we¡¯d be staying at a smaller hotel on the other side of the village. We would have to lug our luggae there ourselves but it was promised to be not too far away. First we have some lunch and beer top fortify ourselves. Or maybe it was just beer. Maybe I had coffee. I don¡¯t remember.
What I do remember however is finally losing my temper with Theo although I didn¡¯t show it or express it. What pushed my feeling toward him over the edge of mild disapproval to outright annoyance was that he chose that moment to go on a rant about Julia. Julia was the woman he had left his wife for. She had been his best friends wife. I had met Julia and I thought I had the right to make up my own mind about her, and I thought she was really nice. Theo went on and on about how Julia was addicted to pills and drank too much, how she was weak. Her pulse feels like that of a little bird he said, because her heart goes to fast because of the many pills she takes.
Theo wasn¡¯t mainly concerned about her health though. Basically he was disappointed in Julia, who he had thought to be a strong, cool woman at first, but who turned out to be needy and bitchy. I remember thinking to myself as I sat there listen to his whiny voice and stupid, feminine face, his weak chin petulant and his eyes hooded and his hairline receding that this man, although he was my father, was really the kind of man that I absolutely despise, and how unfortunate it was for me that it turned that my father was this man. I was thinking that I couldn¡¯t understand the source of his egoism and self-confidence, his playboy ways, as if he were God¡¯s gift.
Had he looked in a mirror lately? The only thing he had going for him was money it seemed, and he sure wasn¡¯t gracious about it. It was really as if he hadn¡¯t grown up. As if he wasn¡¯t a grown up. But most of all I despised him for now suddenly hating Julia where once he told me how great she was and how much he cared about her. If Julia was his now his ex- girlfriend rather than his girlfriend, why couldn¡¯t he just leave well enough alone. Why did he slag her off so? And how do you go from loving someone to hating them so much? I couldn¡¯t understand it and I might up my mind to tune Theo out and rely on my own inner resources to enjoy the rest of the European trip. I remained outwardly friendly and sweet to Theo though. He was still human after all. And he had the wallet.
We trudged on up to our hotel, which was, although not super luxurious like the conference destination apparently, still pretty high class. At last here was a place we¡¯d settle for a while. The room was much bigger than the rooms in Paris and London had been... it had a lovely balcony too, with a view to the lake below, surrounded by trees and peaceful as anything. I reckoned I could feel happy here.
The first thing Theo did was to take a shower. He came out with only a towel wrapped around him and I couldn¡¯t help noticing, and averting my gaze from, the slight bulge below his abdomen which he was not afraid to hide. Then I had a shower too and dressed in fresh clothes. Theo too was dressed when I came out of the shower (I had dressed in the bathroom as far as I can remember). I was still annoyed with Theo but I felt more mellow. The dress I had put on caught Theo¡¯s attention. "You should wear short dresses more often" he said. "You have stunning legs". I was like, duh, dude,I pratctised ballet every day of my teenage life for the past five years, I know what my legs look like and I know they¡¯re impressive.
But I felt warmed by the compliment, although I thought to myself: Man, I know who Christine is and I know Christine doesn¡¯t go out her way to look good. I just am what I am. I¡¯m a genius remember, not a sexpot. I was the kind of person who gets enraptured by the beauty of mountains, not the kind of person who dressed to show her legs to advantage.
What we did that afternoon I¡¯m not sure. We might have walked over to the actual amazingly smart hotel to check it out. Probably. Then we had more food. Did I drink then? Probably wine. Or beer. Or something to go with the meal. The point is, finally it grew dark and late and it was time to go to sleep. Theo was struck by an awesome idea. Why don¡¯t we put the mattresses from the beds inside the rooms outside on the balcony. Then we could sleep like, outdoors, under the stars, enjoying the beauty of the night. I actually thoughtthis was an excellent idea because I totally loved sleeping outside on camping trips and such and I do so love the stars and the nightsky and the night. I got into bed thinking, wow, I wish I could sleep outside like this more often, maybe every night of my life if I could.
Before going to sleep Theo said he wanted to give me a hug, because he loved me so much. Sighing, again inwardly, all my reactions were to the inside at this stage, I let Theo hug me. I listened to his usual bla bla about how wonderful I was and how happy he was that we had finally met and how sorry he was for all the years that we hadn¡¯t known each other and how grateful he was that we now could know each other etcetra and be together etcetra. Again, as I¡¯m writing this, I can¡¯t help but find symbolism in the language I¡¯m ascribing to Theo. I mean, did he actually say he was happy that we could now know each other? Were those his words? I mean, he was about to get to know me in the biblical sense. Maybe he never used that word "ken" which is Afrikaans for know. But how else could he say that he was happy to be with me finally, with his daughter that he never knew before. Anyway, I was feeling yet again annoyed and just waiting for the moment to wiggle out of his embrace back to my side of the bed where I could commune with the stars and trees and the nightsky and my own thoughts. The opportunity didn¡¯t present itself though. Theo kept talking. I listened. He wanted to hold me. He loved me.
How could I deny him. I was lying on my right side, Theo on his left. He had his arms around me and with one hand was rubbing my back as he talked. He would fall silent and I¡¯d think he¡¯d fallen asleep. Then he¡¯d say something more and rub my back again. I was really tired but not sleepy. I wouldn¡¯t have been able to fall asleep like that. I was too uncomfortable mentally, even though the physical position was relaxing and comfortable. Gradually the lapses between Theo¡¯s occasional words became longer and longer. It seemed he had fallen asleep while holding me. He was occasionally still rubbing my back though. As he fell deeper asleep the hand rubbing my back in a fatherly manner became a hand carressing my back like that of a lover. The distinction was quite real and definate. I believed 100% that he had fallen asleep and was now caressing his wife, soon to be ex-wife, in his slumber.
Like had happened once before with his son Rowan, who he, ha ha, mistook for his wife while he was sleep, and whose chest he found himself rubbing when he woke up. I didn¡¯t dare move. I was too embarrassed. Still the situation didn¡¯t seem to me anything but an honest mistake on Theo¡¯s part and I found nothing sinister in any of his actions. I couldn¡¯t move because I would wake him. Physically the sensation of his hand carressing my back was wonderfully gentle and soothing and slow. Not sexual, just like you¡¯d carress a cat. Then I realized suddenly, or knew suddenly, that he wasn¡¯t asleep at all. I could sense it clearly. He was wide awake. Moreover, he¡¯d been awake all along. I had only imagined he was asleep. He had known all along that it was me he was carressing. The sudden understanding froze me. I felt I could hardly dare to breathe. I didn¡¯t want to move away any longer. That is, my body wanted to stay. My mind most definately did not. I realized too that just as Theo had been awake all along, I had been gradually getting more and more aroused all along, and now that I was conscious of my sexual arousal it was to me as if my mind and my body were two separate things, because my mind felt detached and cold from the shock while my body felt warm and purring. This state of detachment probably lasted a full five minutes, during which, if I had been able, I would have rolled away out off Theo¡¯s embrace with silent anger.
My body however was as aroused as it had never been ever in my life before or since, and this I can say honestly. How can I describe it? My genitals were screaming to be touched. I imagine it¡¯s what a really debilitating hard-on must feel like. The need was as strong as an urgent, bladder bursting need to pee. Never before and never since have I felt like that. In my mind I saw a line between good and evil, and I knowingly stepped over to the side of evil. Perhaps I was already such a dark soul deep inside that I understood the fascination pure evil has for me, personally. The same thing that gets me curious about the stars and the lake and the sky and nature and God gets me curious about evil. That¡¯s the only way I can describe it. My mind yielded to my body. It suspended me.
I was now just a human being, I was just here. There were no consequences. None that would have to be face in the next few minutes. I wished that Theo¡¯s hand would move down. I wanted it. I really did. But I wasn¡¯t me anymore. I was my hard-on. I was yielding to evil. Eventually Theo¡¯s hand found its mark and it was delicious. But fortunately it also served to break the spell, for with the edge taken off my horniness I snapped back into myself, and gently rolled away and closed my eyes desicively and after a long long long long long long time fell asleep.
The next morning the previous night seemed unreal. But for the fact that Theo and I were both silent, all would have seemed normal. I started writing in my journal. I started writing about what happened, as if it was the result of a mistake on Theo¡¯s part, a case of mistaken identity, which would never happened again and which could therefore still be salvaged. I was writing in a light hearted tone. Theo looked at me writing and said to me with a sad face and a sad voice, one that differed from the irritating whiny voice of the day before: "Moenie oor jou pa skryf nie." Don¡¯t write about your father. I tore out the page. It was thrown away. I wrote about my feelings in general and not about specific facts. I wrote something like : I feel weird.
Theo had to go to his conference. I had the day to myself. My associations with Switzerland had been from childhood the animated series Heidi, the little girl who lived with her grandfather in the mountains. I went for a walk and found a hill to climb. Appropriately, there were goats on the hill, with little bells around their necks. Just like Heidi¡¯s goats. It was a grey day. Outside and inside me. The weather had clouded over and Switzerland no longer looked as bright as the day before. I sat down on the hill for a while, feeling the atmosphere very intensely. The village-like, pastoral atmosphere of this small Swiss Hill was somehow the complete opposite of my inner detached mood. I truly felt distant from everything, myself included. I found it supremely ironic that in this innocent setting I should have now finally the carnal knowledge I had so long craved, and that it had been my father of all people who would be the first person to touch me. To literally touch me in a sexual way. He was the first male who had gotten his hand in my panty.
For so long I had felt so excluded from the world that I was convinced other teenagers were taking part in: making out, fooling around. I had only French kissed two guys before this day, and that only out of desperation, not because I liked them that much or because I felt myself to be their girlfriend. Both of them had wanted to take it further, but I was like, uhm, no dude, do you really think I¡¯m gonna give it up to you? I really was hoping for someone who loved me to have first crack at me, if you¡¯ll pardon the pun. Well, at that point I didn¡¯t imagine that anything further would come of it. I just know that I thought to myself, God, I hate you. I don¡¯t mean I hate me, Christine, I meant, God, the Creator, I hate You. I thought, how could you let me be in such a situation? It sure ain¡¯t pleasant.
That afternoon another surreal thing happened. I found a pool table down in the hotel basement and was practicing my pool moves by myself when one of the balls got stuck. I went to call someone. A chubby janitor responded to my plea, got the poolball unstuck, and then tried to kiss me. I pushed him away with the pool cue held before me in both hands. He departed, making me feel like I was in a weird dream. Had I drunk a potion to make me irresistable or what? I was, strangely, suddenly more upset by the janitor trying to kiss me than by Theo copping a feel from his daughter. Theo came back eventually and I told him about the janitor. Theo laughed. I found that a bit incomprehnsible but let it go.
Suddenly it was as if the previous night hadn¡¯t happened. We went out to dinner at the smart, expensive hotel, which really was a very impressive place. It seemed to sparkle with gold and was nothing short of decadently luxurious. I met the other conference goers. Most of them had bought their wives along for the trip. Everyone found me charming and one fellow said I reminded him of the Mona Lisa. We ate delicious food. I drank glass after glass of wine as if it were cooldrink.
Eventually Theo and me walked back to the hotel, and he was in such a convivial mood that I found it hard to be angry at him. I was feeling pretty convivial myself too. At one point during the dinner Theo had come over to me and confided to me that he had ****** in one of the flowerboxes outside the hotel¡¯s entrance, reason being that the Swiss were so perfect he just felt he had to do it. It struck me as funny. Honestly, it really did. But I think maybe my defences were somehow lowered by alcohol.
On the way home, the two of us basically lurching, so drunk were we, we stopped to admire the view and somehow I got into a discussion of theology with Theo. I was trying to explain to him I think why I had no doubt that God exists, whereas Theo was propounding a more atheist point of view I think. That¡¯s how remember it. The discussion seems strange but I could always readily convinced to speak about God. I think the discussion of my passion served to further lower my defenses and everything seemed downright regular. Theo said to me: "You know, you¡¯re really an open-minded girl. I don¡¯t think what happened will leave you with any psychological scars." I silently agreed with him. What had happened the night before was crystal clear in my mind but somehow it didn¡¯t seem to matter.
We got to the hotel. I got into the bed on the side of the windows, far away from Theo. He said to me: I¡¯m sorry about last night. Please come and lie down with me for a while. I promise you there will be nothing sexual. Like a blind idiot I agreed. In my defense, I was really very drunk and I was feeling drunk in a happy way. So we got ready to sleep, side by side, but ended up kissing. I kissed him. I kissed my father. I swirled my tongue all around his tongue and I enjoyed it. He was probably groping me as well, but I wasn¡¯t as horny as the previous night, just drunk and happy and wicked and loving it. Let me please stress I was enjoying the wickedness of it. I was like, o my god I¡¯m being so bad but it feels so good. But as with the previous two guys that I had french kissed I had no intention of giving it up. So I laughingly pushed Theo away and got up and went to my bed, saying we should get some sleep, as if he were a naughty kid whom I was indulging.
I fell asleep right away. I was that gone.
The next thing I knew, and this was like an instant splicing together of two different films: a romantic comedy flashing over into stark holocaust footage, I was wide awake and sober and Theo was on top of me and his erect penis was trying dumbly to enter where it had obviously wanted to go all along. Instantly this changed everything. For there was a universe of difference between intercourse and fooling around, and this didn¡¯t make sense to me at all. I was violently angry, righteously angry, and I pushed Theo away hard with both hands and screamed at him: Get back into your bed! Then I turned and went back to sleep. I was angry through and through. No one would have been able to **** me that night, I was just so cold and disgusted. The next morning I didn¡¯t say a word to Theo.
While the men were at the conference the women and me were taken around Switserland by an attractive young bus driver. One of our stops was a monastary where the monks walked around in cowls like in The Name of the Rose, and I saw a statue of a black madonna. I looked at it and it met my mood. A black madonna. It seemed to have been born from the black evil inside me. Unimaginable evil. I mean, this was hard-core evil. And it was calling my name. The monastary matched my mood exactly. Everything felt epic, as if centuries had gone into the making of this day. I thought in my heart to God, God I hate you now. If evil tries to claim me, I¡¯m not gonna resist because it¡¯s your fault that you led me into this. From now on, since you didn¡¯t protect me, I will be evil. You¡¯re my friend no more. What did I mean by this? I personally think it was more of an occult moment than a sexual moment. I wanted to hurt God as I had been hurt.
The bus driver and I chatted on the way back, because he was the same age more or less as me. He offered to take me around Switzerland the next few days. I said I¡¯d ask my father and let him know. Back at the hotel I saw Theo. I told him with black hatred in my heart that I¡¯d been invited to go sight-seeing with the young bus driver and that I intended to go whether he liked it or not. Theo agreed that it was probably the best thing.
For the next few days I stewed in my own evil with the naiveyoung bus driver at my side. I felt sorry for him. If he only knew what a disgusting monster was riding with him in the car. Someone who¡¯d french-kissed her own father. Like Oedipus, I wanted to harm myself. I did it with the bus driver. Obviously this guy was gonna try to get into my pants as well and I vowed to give it up to him, but it turned out I couldn¡¯t. I was so deeply disgusted with myself that not a single moment of our Swiss road trip was free for me of the deepest agony. Nothing touched me. I only pretended that it did. Eventually the bus-drivers company also became unbearable and I begged him to take me back. When I saw Theo he told me two things: that he¡¯d found even cheaper hotel accomodations , closer to the smart conference hotel, right opposite it in fact. Second he was sorry. He¡¯d been suffering. He loved me. Maybe if he could only do it once he¡¯d get it out of his system. In a dream state I consented, because his face seemed to me suffused with suffering. In an upwelling of Christian love I told him that I forgave him, no matter what happened, and I loved him, no matter happened. We went upstairs and he ****** me. This time I wasn¡¯t aroused. Not in the slightest. Foreplay consisted of Theo putting a towel under my bum so as to not dirty the hotel linen. Upon further consideration, he also folded another towel and used that to elevate my hips, which according to him made the angle better.
Afterwards, as they say in novels, I stepped into the hotel shower and sat on the floor while water fell on my head. I was so tired. Anyway, it was done, and I reckoned in for a penny, in for a pound. I had been curious about sex for so long, so I was gonna do it ad nauseum. Somehow even though it was supposed to be only this one time I knew that Theo and I would be ******* all over Switzerland and Turkey and Greece and wherever we went on this holiday, because no one here knew us. I thought to myself I might as well enjoy it. And I did. I totally enjoyed it. Go figure.
Years later in Stikland, a mental hospital, where I was confined twice as a patient, a fellow patient who¡¯d been abused as a child confided to me that he had enjoyed it. I totally knew what he meant. I so enjoyed ******* Theo. I really got into the swing of things. I tired the old man out. But I didn¡¯t enjoy it in a natural innocent way. I enjoyed it in a sick perverted way. I enjoyed it because it was so sick. I think the reason why I consented so easily is because the mere fact of my father wanting to **** me was already as bad as bad could be. That¡¯s not the way it¡¯s supposed to be.
Dear reader, please imagine your parent or parents asking you to have sex with him her or them and you¡¯ll see. Even if he hadn¡¯t ****** me, how could I ever have looked my so-called father in the eyes again after this confession? Maybe having sex with him made it easier for me to go on, because as he was coldly doing his thing that first time I could indeed look him in the eyes. Looking at his eyes, which looked then and now to me almost exactly like mine... looking at his eyes looking at mine while I had sex for the first time ever is a memory that I hope will one day be erased forever from my mind and my heart and my soul.
be who you are and say what you feel cos those who matter don't mind and those that mind don't matter!