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Posts tagged ‘in laws’

How to use your face as a hoe

Yesterday I cycled up to Sister and Boyfriend-In-Law’s house to lash myself to a desk and force out a word or two in a manner similar to performing open heart surgery on oneself.

As you can tell, progress on the second novel is going well.

I borrowed Mother-In-Law’s mountain bike for the trip, which comes accessorised with toe clips. I had no choice but to jam my boots in, because otherwise the clips  struck sparks off the ground on the down stroke.

I’ve never seen the point of toe clips – although I’m sure someone out there in padded lycra shorts can provide one or several. I suppose toe clips might stop my feet shooting off the pedals and kicking pedestrians or, more damagingly – for me, at any rate – lamp posts or letter boxes.

Because that happens all the time.

Instead, the only effect of the toe clips was that, when I pulled to a stop at Sister and Boyfriend-In-Law’s house, completely forgetting my feet secured to the pedals, I toppled off the bike and applied my face to their flowerbed

Reusable dental flossing device

An incident recently reminded me of the first time I met my In-Laws, about seven-eight years ago.

I was understandably nervous. I really REALLY wanted Husband’s family to like me. Correction: I wanted to leave them in no doubt as to why Husband was completely besotted with me, and even experience a little of that lovin feelin themselves, although preferably platonically and largely internally.

Husband granted me maximum exposure to his family. We stayed overnight with his grandparents, Thursa and Eric, on the way to Te Anau; then spent three weeks with Agent of Death and Her Goatiness. I wasn’t sure I achieved full lovin feelin (see above), but I thought I passed. Maybe I tried a bit too hard. No harm in that.

A month after we returned to Dubai, Husband called me from work.

“There’s a parcel here for you,” he said. “Looks like it’s from my mother.”

“For me?” I said. “Oh no, I don’t think so. It must be for you.”

“No, it’s got your name on it.”

I was overwhelmed. WOW! I thought. I must have made a GREAT impression! She must really like me! Although: sending gifts to your son’s girlfriend? Hmm, was that a bit desperate and possibly hinting of codependency? I’d have to watch out for her.

At the same time, I was intrigued. When Husband arrived home, I charged him as he walked in the door and seized the package. It was small and yielded when I squeezed it. It could have been wrapped more elegantly, but I wouldn’t hold it against the woman. A gift is a gift.

I shredded off the tape and paper. It was a pair of knickers. I was confounded. I mean, they were nice knickers – Calvin Klein knickers – good choice – but still. It struck me as a rather eccentric present. And they were rather skimpy – all lacy and see-through. What was the woman trying to say?

Then I realized, they looked familiar. Were they – hang on – oh no! My god, NO! They were MINE!

According to the informative note accompanying the underwear, I left the knickers under the bed at Thursa and Eric’s house. I had visions of Thursa holding them up, going: “But where’s this string supposed to go? There . . . there’s no bottom bit. Eric, I declare this underwear to be the work of satan.”

Thursa sent them to Agent of Death and Her Goatiness, but the package arrived after we left. This time, my over-active imagination has Agent of Death roaring: “Goat Mistress, the light shines right through these. In my opinion, I don’t know why she’d bother wearing knickers at all!”

These days, I am exceedingly careful where I air my underwear

We can dodge the flying pigs

On Tuesday night, we stayed over at The Outlaws’. The following day, we always have the best intentions to spring out of bed with the dawn and return to Turanga Road to start work by 08:00. Unfortunately, our plans are generally sabotaged by willpower (lack of) and hangovers (throbbing of).

Yesterday morning was no exception. Around midday, we were mooching around The Outlaws’ living room talking about plans for the Easter Weekend. These particular plans were safe from both willpower and hangovers, because we didn’t have any. Time’s grand design tends to bypass Husband and me since we rarely venture into the real world; we eat when we’re hungry, go to bed when the eyelids start sagging, and have to look up the date on our computers. So the Easter weekend had lost much of its context and meaning for us.

Father In Law suggested we fly down to South Island to visit The Real Outlaws. With Brian behind it, the idea adopted an explosive momentum. Within five minutes Husband was looking up flights on Virgin Blue. I’ve no idea how his father managed it; I could maybe achieve similar results after three straight years of remorseless nagging/cajoling/entreating/threatening/torture.

“You should make a real trip out of it,” said Brian, pacing around the living room while he plotted. “Go for two weeks! Three! Take a month! Bloody disgrace you’ve been in the country all this time and haven’t seen your mother.”

His pure, selfless outrage on Real Mother In Law’s behalf evaporated somewhat when Husband booked a return flight the following Wednesday.

“But- but I’m going into hospital on Tuesday,” he said.

Brian’s transplant was scheduled for the Thursday with prep and chemo over the Tuesday/Wednesday. We said we would go directly to the hospital upon our return on Wednesday.

“Right,” I said to Husband. “We need to get to the airport for 8-”

“The flight’s at 9:30!”

“Yes, so we should be at the airport an hour and a half- do you think that’s enough time?”

“What are you on about? We only need to check in half an hour before the flight.”

“Well, yes, but anything could go wrong. Missing passports-”

“You don’t need your passport for a domestic flight.”

“Expired visas-”

“You don’t have a visa.”

“Flying pigs-”

“We can dodge ‘em.”

“Flat tyres, traffic jams, over sleeping, general muppetry.”

“Let’s aim to get to the airport for 8:30,” said Husband indulgently. “If we leave the house at 7:30, it should be PLENTY of time.”

Now, as you may know, I haven’t fully mastered public transport yet. If I’m not getting booed as I try to locate the last free seat on the aircraft, I’m the one chasing the airplane as it taxis off down the runway. But even I thought this was not so much cutting it fine so much as shredding it to oblivion.

I registered my objection via the formal channels and then I tried shouting a bit – to no avail. I’ve recently resolved not to nag Husband because whatever about him, it drives me insane; so I gave up after half an hour.

Yet I still have an implicit faith in my husband. There’s a fair chance the man could persuade me to fly a cow to the moon. He sounds so intrinsically plausible that, even when the real outcome patently contradicts Husband’s predictions, he still gives the impression of being right.

This morning, we left the house at 07:00hrs to drive to the airport and, as we neared the top of Lincoln Road, I knew we were in trouble. It took us 15 minutes to get onto the motorway and then we stuttered along averaging about 5 kilometres per day.

“There is not a chance we’re going to make it,” I said through gritted teeth.

Husband reclined his seat and yawned.

“Nothing we can do about it now,” he said. “Think I might have a little nap.”

In the meantime, I was so wound up the windscreen was sustaining stress fractures.

“You know, I promise I’ll only say this once, but you DO REALISE THIS IS THE REASON I WANTED TO LEAVE EARLY?”

“Fair enough.”


“Pretty much. Oh wait a minute: sorry. Does that make you feel better?”


“Hey look! These tissues are called ‘Handy Andies’. I never noticed that before. Do you think they were made especially for me?”


“Ah now, that’s not very nice.”


At this point, Husband actually had the nerve to snigger.

Personally, I considered that a particularly daring move.

We arrived at Auckland airport at 08:59. As I drove towards the terminal, Husband threw the bags out the windows and I did a commando roll out my door, leaving Husband to slide across to the driver seat.

I heard the tyres squeal as I charged into the terminal and threw myself across the check-in counter.

“Two- huff! Two passengers to- huagh! Auckland to Christ! Christchurch!”

“Any seat preference?” enquired the assistant.

“On the 9:30 flight, if possible.”

It was and we got two great seats – although they would have been better had I not been beside Husband. I will probably forgive him later this year

One of my finest moments

A friend of The Real Outlaws’ offered to take us out on Lake Te Anau in his boat this morning. The plan was to moor at the other side of the lake and take a trek up river to do some fishing.

I was not heartened by the blokes – packing their waders – advising me that I should expect to get my boots wet. In my opinion, there are very few sports that merit the sacrifice of toasty feet, and I’m just not that keen an angler yet. So I was pretty dubious. And the morning would have given a polar bear acute hypothermia. I was packed in six layers, daintily garnished with a scarf, hat and gloves – but the cold was still nibbling my bone marrow.

On my fourth cast, I got my lure caught under a rock.

Bafflingly, the men seemed to seize upon any opportunity to leap into sub-zero waters, as illustrated by a fishing trip two days ago where Andrew got wet up to his ARMPITS. (The theory appears to be that the greater the suffering, the better the experience – a bit like Catholicism, although perhaps more sensible). Anyway, discarding shoes and socks, I made a futile attempt to retrieve my lure, giving up when the water lapped playfully at my groin.

It was half an hour before I could feel my toes again – and only a painful tingle now and then at that.

The Goat Mistress and I left the real men to their crotch-dampening experiences, and made our arid way up river through The Bush. I was suffering a confidence crisis, having lost one lure and snagged my replacement several times. In fact, I had not had any luck during our fishing trips in Te Anau – I’d got to the stage where I didn’t even know whether I’d recognise a fish chomping away on the end of my line. Agent of Death liked to say I was their “Jonah” (as in: “You’re our bladdy Jonah, you are”).

Obviously, I came back strongly, accusing him of pawning me off with a substandard fishing reel (it squeaked) and crappy mono-chromatic lures. But internally, I was seriously questioning my whole angling career.

And then along came Trevor.

We were kicking our way through a particularly overgrown section of Bush, when The Goat Mistress said, “Oh, there might be a good fishing pool here,” and inexplicably set off punching her way through a great mass of impenetrable foliage.

“Oh shite not again,” I thought, but figured I’d better humour my Mother-In-Law.

“Look, that might be a good bet,” said The Goat Mistress, teetering on the brink of a short bank above a nondescript pool.

“Try in there,” she said, settling herself comfortably on the bank.

Well, I hadn’t got a lot else on at the time, so I resignedly unhooked my lure and made a couple of half-hearted casts into the pool. Agent of Death says if you’re going to catch a fish it will be within the first six casts. I was on the sixth and more concerned with how to suggest to The Goat Mistress that we find a big rock to sit on and contemplate lunch, when there was a tension on the line and, “Oh bugger,” I thought with a sinking feeling, “I’ve caught the bloody lure in the tree.”

I didn’t fancy wading in to unhook the damn thing – but wait! Was that a tug I felt?

“I think… I think I might have caught something,” I said to The Goat Mistress incredulously. “No… yes… no… yes, yes it might be… it might be… a FISH!”

I was trying to reel in the line and having some problems; the rod was jerking all over the show.

“Where is it?” The Goat Mistress shouted.

And then next thing, this WHALE broke the surface of the water. “Look!” I screamed, and tried to point, but the reel went berserk, so I figured I’d better keep a grip on it.

“Help! Help!” shrieked The Goat Mistress, presumably trying to attract the attention of The Real Men, of whom there was no sign. They were probably balancing on a rock somewhere in the deepest, fastest-flowing section of river.

“What do I do?” I bawled at poor Goat Mistress, whose only advice at that point was: “Keep the tup down! Keep the tup down!”

After further urgent exchanges, The Goat Mistress and I agreed that the best course of action would be to wear Trevor out.

“Give him his head when he struggles, and reel him in when he’s tired,” muttered The Goat Mistress, staring intently with narrowed eyes at the last place Trevor had been spotted.

Well, it was a long hard battle and I had no idea what I was doing. The hook must have been embedded fairly deep in poor Trevor’s mouth, because I gave him every opportunity to wriggle away to snap at minnows another day.

Eventually, after several minutes cursing and hauling, Trevor was within spitting distance of the bank and Goat Mistress’s patience snapped. Disregarding all consideration of dry feet, she splashed into the water, punched Trevor on the nose, grabbed him by the tail and hauled him up on the bank, where she kicked him – really fairly viciously – in the head.

The woman has a lot of latent aggression.

The hook was indeed wedged far down Trevor’s throat. Now, I’ve always baulked at the thought of extracting a lure from a fish’s mouth, but I exceeded all expectations (mine) by using a hunting knife to pick the hook out of Trevor’s gob.

Next thing, with remarkably good timing – for us – the Real Men appeared on the horizon, complete with soggy crotches and buckets of no fish.

“Hold it up by the gills!” hissed The Goat Mistress – which I did, ignoring the blood and general ick factor – “Not over the water!” As if Trevor hadn’t been busy negotiating the turbulent waters of the Pearly Gates for the last five minutes.

“Look what we got!” we sang, and I waved Trevor at The Real Men. Trevor, the great big hairy-arse brown trout, 5lbs of him (according to Agent of Death’s official weighing scales).

The Real Men looked soggily sullen.

Later, I was obliged to gut Trevor, which was a traumatic affair. My lying, cheating, no-good, low-down husband of mine said: “Don’t worry, Agent of Death’ll do most of it.” So we went out to the back of the truck, where Agent of Death stood fingering his hunting knife.

Freddy Kreuger could take lessons in horror from this man.

“Right,” said Agent of Death, when he’d pressed the knife into my trembling hand. “First, hold him upside down. UPSIDE DOWN. Yep, like that. Now, stick the point of the knife in his pie-‘ole.”

“Er, excuse me,” I said uncertainly. “His pie-‘ole?”

“The shitter,” said Agent of Death succinctly. He pointed.

“You’re kidding, aren’t you?” I asked, trying to keep the gag-reflex under control.

Agent of Death just sniggered, evilly.

“Oh, Trevor!” I lamented soundlessly.

And so I gutted poor Trevor, Agent of Death insisting on inspecting his stomach contents – “Ooh look! What’s this? He’s been a hungry boy.”

From the state of his kidneys I’d say Trevor might’ve had a bit of a drink problem, although otherwise, he was apparently in good condition. Light pink flesh – allegedly indicating a healthy diet of crustaceans.

Despite a shower and nail-inspection, I still have most of Trevor’s entrails under my finger-nails

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