I made my daughter cry. Not through violence, carelessness, idiocy or even over boisterousness. No, I made my sweet, delicate, delightful and giggly little daughter cry by telling a sad story.
The story perhaps…
I hope I have documented in this blog my absolutely inability to cope with old people. The sight of an elderly gentleman lunching alone in a busy greasy spoon cafe is enough to render me damp eyed and snivelling. Interaction tinged with a dash of despondency will see my bravest face as, I battle deep despair.
Ah, the story.
I had cycled down to the local supermarket for mozzarella, parmesan, bacon, and cauliflower. During my shopping I had spotted and elderly gent, bent over in beige. His basket was budget brand bread, pop and a tin of something… I recognised my despair radar alert and swiftly moved on. I was unlocking my bike and loading the front wicker basket, when I felt a presence on my shoulder: was my arse out blocking the narrow path between ATM and trolleys where I had locked Edith?… I looked up ready to apologise, genuflect and withdraw, as is my wont. Yet, alas, no. There was Mr. Bent over in Beige. He was pawing at his dribbling nose and scrutinising my bike.
“How d’ya know what gear you’re in?!” “Ha, yes, I spend most of my time looking down trying to figure that out!”
Our badinage had begun over my 2 x 10 drivetrain, and I was relieved he was a crotchety old coot, my sympathy faucet was shut.
“You know, I used to race bikes, sixty-years ago.” (Shit, he’s softening) ..We only had four gears, and that was enough!” (Just smile and nod, Clive) ..And then we went a bit silly and added another chain ring!”
I spent the next 90 seconds in a blur explaining that there was 2 x 11 which was the norm these days; that I rode my bike everywhere in different guises, 20 gears were justified; I once rode Hampshire to the far end of Dorset on a 3-speed; my track bike has one gear and that’s fixed!;…doing anything I could to just keep gibbering. I was squeezing the left brake lever on and off just to keep distracted. Ex-Racer in Beige spotted my rear calliper moving.
“What’s that?!” “It’s a disc brake.”
Then. Then, there was the pause. The ominous pause where you know that a statement of disbelief and longing was due any second.
I had astrally projected: I was already running a narrow gap in the roundabout up the road, I was already laying down 1,000 watts to beat the aggressive traffic before idling to the pedestrian crossing and then trying to bring on the faint and bilious waves in the 500m from the crossing to my driveway…
Alas. No. I was at the supermarket. Still.
“A disc brake?” “Yup! Getting common on ‘all-road’ bikes, and just UCI signed off…(more inane blather)”
There was that pause again. He swatted at his dribbling nose again.
“I wish I was sixty-years younger, you know?”
I thrust out my hand:
He shook it, then shook his head and shuffled off. The bent over bike racer with the bad sinus, in beige. And my heart exploded. As is my wont I don’t want. I barely rode home, ambled across the roundabout, a toot for being careless. Coasted the whole way from the pedestrian crossing, occasionally pawing at the pedals.
And that’s the story.
Perhaps the setting in which it made Mlle. cry?
Mme. has been overseas for the weekend. So I’ve not had the chance to avail her of all my tales. So it was during the conversational matrix that is me bathing Mlle., and Mme. sitting in the late shaft of sunlight in at the bathroom door, both of us with a glass of wine in hand, that I remembered to tell my Beige anecdote.
And it was there, my with a hand on my daughter’s back as she sat in the bath cooing and chewing, that I relayed the story. And as I was coming to the crux, the “I wish” moment, I felt my eyes welling up again. I paused for just a second and looked back over my arm to Mlle. F. - who was oddly still.
There she was, her bottom lip a quiver, her pool blue eyes glossy with tear, about to raise her arms and cry: really cry.
A friend, a lovely and archetypal Dane: Morten, iMessaged me some while back about the symbiosis he found him and his daughter in. I found the message interesting and stored it in my mind under both perplexing and possibly relevant.
So maybe an observation?…
As Mlle. F. sat in her bath (a normally very happy time) quivering and beginning to sob, that I remembered the symbiosis of my friend the Dane. When I made her cry, I wasn’t looking at her, I wasn’t engaging her. I was telling her mother a story. Yet, she was as sad as me, if not more by the heartbreak on that little face… I made my daughter cry, by no more than telling a story that had the same effect on me.
She is a sweet, delicate, happy, loving and naive wee dot. Only 6 months old and she is teaching me so much everyday. I am crippled by my fear for her own little heart, and if she’s crying by proxy already, I know I’ll have to be there many a time in the future - just to listen and cuddle it out. For it won’t just be me who makes her cry…