Mulled Whine with H. G. Beattie

by / 20/08/12

I regret to inform you that you are not as good as my dad. Thanks for playing.

I’m just like you. Logical corollary: we’re both just like Tina Fey. The first page of her 2011 book Bossypants heralds the absolute humdinger “Perhaps you’re a parent and you bought this book to learn how to raise an achievement-oriented, drug-free virgin adult. The secrets, let me tell you, are a strong father figure, bad skin, and a child- sized colonial lady outfit.” A recurring theme in my own life has been the importance of my relationship with my father. The photo of him in my wallet is only kind of a joke. Accordingly, Tina Fey’s validation was worth a lot more than the $25 cost of Bossypants would indicate.

My dad has been one of my best pals for a few years now. I used to cry to him on weekends when I didn’t get invited to stuff and was forced to spend my Saturday nights compulsively munching aniseed balls, watching endless Sex and the City series and suffering subsequent existential crises because it transpires I am a Miranda. At least small breasts mean that I can easily mimic her turtlenecks. Optimism IS just a doctor’s visit away.

The main reason for our closeness is textbook: we think similarly. My mother calls us callous and emotionally stunted (read: “all about the Benjamins.”) Clearly, she has mistaken rationalism for something far more sinister, while simultaneously forgetting that said Benjamins (whose sad kiwiana cousin, Ernest, lacks the requisite swag) paid for her last facial. Perhaps she is still bitter about returning from a tense 2006 family holiday in Sydney and being mistaken by a Customs official for the grandmother that my father and his apparently much younger bride had charitably taken on holiday. The reassurance “Relax, Mum, at least we’re prematurely ageing together” did little to abate her ire.

Admittedly, it pisses me off when people think that their parents are always right. I wish the reason for this were the unsoundness of blindly espousing anyone else’s views without really considering them. It is not. It is because their parents’ views differ from my father’s, and my father is actually always right. The man knows everything. The second longest river in Chile. Airline pricing at the margins. The reason that we don’t grow bananas on Mount Cook.

Of course, he is not perfect. Although the subject matter of the mixed signals my dad sends me is less racy, I challenge you to reconcile “I just want you to be happy” with “If you become the Economist’s Middle East correspondent, I will be proud of you.” He is also a big proponent of the one word text message, and is loath to pay for anything. Sounds like your relationship, if a little more Gaza strip than landing strip.

If you are ever a parent, and your twenty-year- old daughter asks for a hug, the response “for God’s sake, leave us alone—can’t you get a boyfriend?” is probably justified—but MAN ALIVE IT IS HARD TO HEAR. While it unnerves my father when I tell him that the reason I remain single is because I don’t enjoy any male company more than I do his, it is a necessary conviction: how else to reinforce the frazzled thread of hope that ‘maybe it’s not my personality’? I think I need to lie down. The deafening ticking of my biological clock is giving me a migraine.

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