My sister Trouble tried to call me this afternoon. When I saw her number on my mobile phone screen, I didn’t answer. I simply put the phone back down and stared at it until it stopped ringing. And again, when she tried a few hours later. Alas, poor Trouble, for all I know she wanted to tell me something ragingly important, that our mother has finally run away to join a commune or our father had been kidnapped by squirrels. Or maybe she merely wanted to chat in a nice sisterly way. But I, bitch that I am, will never know, because, at the moment, I simply can’t spare the emotional energy required to speak to Trouble in a calm and cheerful tone of voice.
You see, nearly a month ago, we had a family birthday party, and after it, H and I accompanied the slightly tipsy Trouble to the station, to see her on the right train and so on. We were having, or so I thought, a rather jolly conversation about breasts, in that, I have great big ones, and Trouble has teeny little ones, and we therefore have highly divergent ideas of what constitutes a Good Bra. Unfortunately, this veered into the territory of The Damage Breastfeeding Did To Trouble’s Perkiness – me, I was perky for approximately seventeen minutes at the age of sixteen, so like the fuck I care, and note, I did not say this out loud – and while this I could cope with, it rapidly descended to the Finer Details of Trouble’s Perfect Pregnancy, and all its attendant corollaries of People Who Get Double Chins When Pregnant Are Deluded Over-Eaters, Most Pregnancy Problems Are Caused By Laziness And A Bad Attitude and Morning Sickness Is Imaginary.
I was not tipsy. I had fainted earlier that day and was therefore staying very cautiously sober. Now, I had not told anyone at the party about the faint, as my family’s reaction to me being unwell invariably freaks me out, so my desire to sink my teeth into Trouble’s leg at this point was probably not entirely rational or explainable, certainly not to a tipsy tactless Trouble. So I went into stealth mode. I said ‘ummmm,’ a lot. I think I made an abortive attempt at one point to explain the whole, ‘not everyone has such polite hormones as you’ thing, but accidentally added fuel to the nuclear reactor of Bloody Stupid Things Trouble Was Saying. To put it bluntly, I wimped the hell out. I bore it. I may have muttered a few grouchy remarks to H at sundry points later in the evening, when we had ladled the offending baggage onto her train. And I have born it in silence for nearly a month.
For why, you might well ask? Well. I don’t know. Every time I tried to think about that night it was as if my super-ego was quietly taking my arm and leading away to a nice meadow with bluebells to contemplate. Perhaps if I tried to process it and thought too hard, what with The Fainting and The Ovulating and The Essays, I would have burnt out some precious and irreparable neural net or other, used mostly for coping, and been found lying on the mud of the river-bank the next day singing ‘Who’s that trip-trapping over my briii-iidge?’
Anyway. Here we are. And here is my list of things that still (still! To this day!) bug the ever-loving shit out of me about that conversation. Lecture. Drunken rant. Whatever.
- What’s with the gibberish about how perfectly perfect your perfect pregnancy was? Also, the whole, and it was perfect because you have such a great attitude and amazing depths of common sense and inner strength shit? Bollocks. Bol. Locks. You got knocked up by a complete loser you’d known for three months, and then, oh God, and then, you married him, and THEN, for it gets worse, you moved his loser ass and your own into your mother’s home and got her to look after all bloody three of you. And she still is. Getting mummy to cook you dinner and pay for a private midwife in no way counts as inner strength. Cunning, yes, I’ll grant you. And being lucky enough to avoid morning sickness, bloating, heartburn, piles and backache is just that. Luck. Also, I know you are lying about the backache, because I was there. You drunken idiot.
- I am infertile. Why are we having this conversation at all? What exactly can I contribute, having never been pregnant in my life? And what am I going to learn from it, being exceedingly unlikely to ever get pregnant in my life? What am I getting out of it, beyond a good face-rubbing in the superiority of your reproductive capabilities? More to the point what are you getting out of it? Huh? Huh? HUH?
- And it’s all such foaming arrant nonsense. Nausea is not a moral issue. Women do not end up on bedrest for three months because they are jellyfish at heart. Some of us have royally fucked up hormones. Some of us have less than a full and working set of girl-parts to start with. Putting on weight during pregnancy is not a sign of self-indulgent idiocy.
- That last one about weight-gain? A little close to the bone for your dumpy PCOS-afflicted sister with the big bazongas.
And that is why I am not answering the phone to Trouble. Not, at least, until after Wednesday’s appointment.