*The theme for my A to Z is Childhood Stories. Some are real, some are embellished, some are downright fictional but are based on the kind of things I imagined when I was younger.*
As a child, when I knew something, I knew it with the kind of iron-clad certainty that had one of my primary school teachers write in my report card: “Celine would benefit from occasionally admitting that she is wrong.”
Two instances in particular stand out in my memory, of times when I harboured an unshakeable, iron-clad certainty, only to be proven quite spectacularly wrong.
The first was when I was very young. One day I announced that I’d NEVER misbehave. I’d always do as I was told, I’d always be a good girl.
That’s very good, said my parents, but you won’t always think like that. Would I hell. I was more sure of this than I had been about anything in my short life. Never ever would I be bad.
My parents are full of wisdom and experience. Understanding that a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s not printed on, they had me write up a letter, confirming that I would always do exactly as I was told. I saw no problem with this since I knew for a certainty that I would never misbehave.
I wrote the letter. I signed it.
I’ll leave you to guess how long it took me to break my contract.
(It was, by the way, pretty rich of me to claim that I would never be bad, considering that not long before that I stole and ate a big bunch of sugar cubes, and then tried to blame by 6 month old brother)
The second iron-clad certainty I had, was in my teens. I announced that NEVER would I have an English boyfriend — and I announced this repeatedly. Despite growing up in England I had decided for some reason that I didn’t like the English. It would be a French boyfriend for me, and later a French husband. Never mind that I spoke more English than French with my friends, that said friends were all partly English, that I had never lived in France and that I had no intention of ever living there.
You never know, said my parents, you might very well end up with an English boy. Never, I scoffed. I was as sure of that as I had been of anything in my life so far. Never ever would I have an English boyfriend.
Lucky for me, my parents didn’t have me sign a letter this time.
As it turned out, I exclusively dated English men. And guess what? The Husband is about as English as they come. I think playing cricket and having Talbot as a middle name even qualifies one for Extreme Englishness.
My parents still tease me about both instances.
PS: For anyone wondering, Extreme Englishness is a kind of extreme sport which involves barbecuing in the rain, making as little eye contact with strangers as is humanly possible, and acting as though ‘Brown Sauce’ is one of the major food groups. It goes without saying that all this has to be done while engaging in the kind of rapid-fire, witty banter that leaves us Europeans lagging several trains behind.
PPS: For anyone wondering what the hell Brown Sauce is, nobody knows. It isn’t BBQ sauce, it isn’t ketchup, it simply is. Some people say that it is made from the tears of badgers, mixed with the taste of batteries and old sausage fat. My advice, if you haven’t tried it, is don’t.