The Dutch grandmother did not like to admit she had missed watching the weather forecast on television in the evening, because if she had missed watching the weather in the evening it was as a result of falling asleep, and she did not want to admit she had fallen asleep. And so, when asked about the weather by her granddaughters, if, indeed, she had missed watching it, she would say, ‘Sunny with some cloud and a chance of rain.’
Over the years, as her granddaughters grew up and moved away, each time a weather station forecasted sun and clouds and a chance of rain all in the same brief window, they would smile to themselves.
‘Oma weather,’ they would say, nodding their heads. ‘An excellent chance of Oma weather today.’
She had trouble sleeping and typically didn’t drop off till after midnight but at least when she had fallen asleep, she stayed asleep. This made it all the more infuriating when she was woken by her husband as he tossed and turned because it was warm or a dog was barking, or whatever.
One morning she awoke before dawn to a light, fluttering sensation on her left foot.
When she looked down, she discovered her husband leaning over, tickling her toe with the tip of his index finger.
Later that morning, over brunch with their friends, she said that if she was in a bad mood it was because of the antics of her husband only a few hours prior, and she explained the tickling.
A friend said it could have been worse, he could have bitten her foot, to which everyone laughed heartily.
Another friend said, if a man bites your foot then I think you’re headed for divorce, shooting a look at her own husband who turned bright red and suddenly took a keen interest in the tablecloth.
The laughter, which had been so easy, died away as everyone stared curiously at the husband who continued tracing the pattern on the tablecloth, while his wife picked up a knife, and slowly began buttering her scone.
It is not pleasant to look back at holiday snaps you thought were excellent only to notice that next to you stands a sunburned old man peeling dried skin from his forearm, a woman scratching an infected mosquito bite, or a young boy picking his nose.
It is enraging, until you consider all the cities you’ve visited and all the times you’ve accidentally stood in somebody else’s photos, fixing your hair or scowling at your spouse.
This thought takes hold of you, and thereafter you find yourself looking upon the strangers hovering in your backgrounds—even the young boy picking his nose—almost fondly, as you remind yourself: I am a tourist, too.
When the wife came downstairs the first morning, the sister-in-law was sitting at the kitchen table in her underwear. The wife was not happy about this and tried not to look, which is never easy, as anyone knows who has passed a bloody road accident.
When the wife came downstairs the second morning, her mother-in-law was in the kitchen in her night shirt which ended at the hips. Again, the wife tried not to look, which is never easy, as anyone knows who has seen a couple canoodling on the beach.
When the wife came downstairs the third morning, her father-in-law was sitting at the kitchen table, chewing toast, clad only in white underpants. Once again she tried not to look, which is never easy, as anyone knows who has witnessed a child throw a tantrum in a grocery store.
When the wife came downstairs the fourth morning, she did so in black silk panties, a matching bra and suspender belt complete with stockings. The family tried not to look, which is never easy, as anyone knows who has passed a prostitute on a street corner at lunchtime.
When the wife came downstairs the fifth morning, the kitchen was empty and the house was quiet. Her in-laws had departed the day before, dismayed by their son’s taste in women.
I heard you have a very blue suit, she said.
I wouldn’t exactly say that, he replied.
Is it the colour of the midday sky? she asked.
No, he said.
Is it the colour of a robin’s egg? she asked.
No, he said again.
Is it the colour of the sea? she almost shrieked.
No, he said. It is the colour of a moonlit lake at twilight.
So it is a blue suit? she asked.
It is a tame shade of blue, he said.
But it is still a blue suit.
It is a blue suit after all, he agreed sadly.