Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Yesterday I spoke of my mother and her admirers.
To be honest, more than a few of them were lame ducks.
Lame ducks, or, lamme eenden, as the Dutch say, meaning, people with a flaw, misfits, people whose life does not run smoothly. Alcoholics, divorcees, illegal immigrants, petty criminals or just plain nut cases.
People like you and me, well, me, in any case.
One of them was a real character, mr. Vrolijk, that is Dutch for merry, but he was a miserable sod.
He came to clean our dustbin, nothing my mum couldn't manage herself, but she felt she was doing the right thing by letting him squirt his carbolic liquid into the bin, so he could make a few pennies, even if our garden ended up smelling like a chemical plant.
She also took it upon herself to offer him cups of coffee and tea, feeling sorry for him and his nasty job.
After some per-functional hesitating and resisting, he accepted but would not enter the house to drink it.
However, not much later he asked, cap in hand, would she mind if he had his sandwiches with his tea?
He had no-where else to go, he would be no trouble, happy just to sit out on our bench in the foul weather and enjoy his frugal meal.
Now this really bothered my mother, she was like that, and she tried to coax him in like a shy animal.
And lo and behold, the next time round he ventured in, clutching a newspaper for him to sit on, he would not dirty the lady's chair.
Or maybe by then he had already started to call her Femke, but I can't recall her calling him anything but mister Vrolijk.
Mr Vrolijk turned out to be something of a religious fanatic.
He actually started to bring along his gospel records and we children began to dread coming home from school on Mondays to a whiff of tar and psalms bellowing out onto the streets.
On top of that, he was beginning to boss us around: go do your homework, I am talking to your mother.
Stuff like that.
Needless to say we were dumbfounded but the bloody limit was him sitting in our stepfather's chair!
This was a major offence, no-one dared sit in his chair.
Even our dog, Keesie, jumped out of it soon as he heard my step dad's Deux-Chevaux approaching.
He could hear it a mile off, not that much traffic then, and that gave us just enough time to collect our stuff, turn off Radio Luxemburg and scarper.
That dog was a blessing.
Mr Vrolijk on the other hand was rapidly becoming a considerable pain in the ass.
Of course we complained to our mum but she was at her wits end herself. The long and the short of it is she didn't know how to get rid of him without hurting his feelings.
Funny thing is, I knew what she meant.
Anyway, it all came to an end when my stepfather, whose name was Smith, rang my mum one day.
Mr Vrolijk turned down his music, leaned back in my stepdad's chair, crossing his legs he calmly picks up the phone and says:
That was the last we saw of him. In our home, at least.
He was seen skulking about for sometime after - we would duck when he passed our house, casting vengeful glances our way.
And then he just disappeared for good.
Mr Vrolijk, a lame duck or maybe more of a cuckoo?
Ah, you were never one to discriminate.
Miss you mammy.
Posted by katherine-anne at 13:08