Friday 17 May 2013 – shortly after getting home from the train station
Me [quizzically observing Rhiannon eating Bella pizza]: What are you doing?
Me: Why are you picking the bits of bacon off your pizza? You love bacon. You chose the pizza!
Rhiannon [defensively]: I know. I’m just saving the best for last.
Me: Oh brother. What’s the point of that? You may as well just get a side order of bacon with your pizza and eat it afterwards. And why on earth are you putting it on each side of your plate?
Rhiannon [even more defensively]: There has to be an equal number of bits on each side.
Me [bewildered]: Why??!!
Rhiannon [sheepishly]: When I’m ready to eat it, I’ll take a bit from the left side of the plate and eat it on the left side of my mouth. Because that’s not fair to the right side, I’ll take the next bit from the right side of the plate and eat it on the right side of my mouth.
Me: Have you suffered a recent blow to the head?
Rhiannon [anxiously]: I sure hope there are an equal number of pieces on each side. Otherwise, it won’t be fair and you’ll have to order another pizza…
Me [searching Rhiannon’s face]: Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?
Rhiannon [matter-of-factly]: Daddy, I have undiagnosed OCD.
Me [dismissively with a wave of the hand]: Don’t be ridiculous. That’s a very serious disorder and you’re only 12 years old. You do not have OCD.
Rhiannon: Whatever. It’s all your fault, by the way.
Rhiannon [tapping her temple]: Everything wrong with me up here, I get from you. Everyone says so – even Nana. That’s why she’s always saying “I’m so very sorry, Rhiannon”.
Me [haughtily and tapping furiously at my temple]: That’s preposterous! There are no bats in this attic! I’m as sharp as a tack!
Rhiannon: Uh-huh, that’s why you have enough pills in your medicine cabinet to make Edvard Munch happy.
Me: You take that back! Those are purely “as needed” prescription medications for the odd occasion I have an agoraphobic panic attack.
Rhiannon [raising an eyebrow]: Uh-huh?
Me: Well, there’s also a very slight predisposition to depressive episodes.
Rhiannon [raising her eyebrow even further]: Uh-huh?
Me: Okay, in extremely rare instances, I believe an African elephant is sitting at my piano playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. Other than that, no problem!
Rhiannon [analyzing her 2 lots of bacon bits]: You’re insane, Daddy. Accept it.
Me [confrontationally]: Right, little Miss OCD, how’s this? Over the weekend, we’ll keep score of crazy behavior. Whoever has the most points by Monday is the craziest and has to stand on Nana’s front balcony singing ‘Jerusalem’…. naked. I’m throwing down the gauntlet, young one!
Rhiannon: Game on, you psycho!
Monday 20 May 2013 – brunch at my mother’s
My mother [gesturing towards me]: Why’s he so grumpy today, Rhiannon?
Rhiannon [laughing]: I’m handing Daddy his butt in our ‘crazy competition’. It’s 538-1 for him which means he’s losing big time. This is going to be so awesome!
My mother [shaking her head with a sidelong glance at me]: Oh, dear. What were you thinking, Andrew?
Me [dryly]: Well, now it’s actually 538-2. As you may have observed, Rhiannon here has meticulously constructed her bagel, lox and cream cheese sandwiches only to remove the salmon one piece at a time and put them into equal piles on each side of her plate in order for her to democratically chew them on either side of her mouth at the end of the meal. She has undiagnosed OCD, you know, and I think that should count for 537 points so that we’re now tied at 538 apiece.
My mother: Oh, dear.
Rhiannon: No way!!! Nana, do you know what I caught him doing in the middle of the night, last night, when I got up to go to the bathroom?
My mother [appalled]: Oh, Andrew! You weren’t??!!
Rhiannon: No, no. Not that. Much worse. He was sitting in front of his aquarium in a full Batman costume talking to himself!
My mother: What?!
Rhiannon [gleefully]: Yup. He was rubbing his hands together and saying things like “I know crimes are being committed in there but I’m watching you guys like a hawk” and “Yes, Easter Island Head, I got your signal from the aliens and I’m ready for the massacre” and…
My mother: I’m so very sorry, Rhiannon.
Me [protesting]: I’ll have you know it wasn’t a Batman’s costume – it was a Cat Woman’s costume. What good is Batman against psychotic, homicidal fish?! You need a bitchy cat with sharp claws to get the job done with those bastards!
Rhiannon [to my mother]: See, he’s also a cross-dresser! I think that should double his score so that it’s now 1076-2!
My mother [diplomatically]: Now, now, Rhiannon – that’s just your father being English. Don’t worry about that. Worry about everything else, mind you. Why don’t you let that one slide and leave it at 538-2? Andrew… what in heaven’s name are you doing?
Me [standing up and starting to take off my clothes]: I’m just going to get this over with.
My mother’s boyfriend, Derek: That’s it – I’m done. I’ll be in the solarium reading my book if anyone needs me.
Me [stalking from the room, naked]: Back in a minute…
My mother [mystified]: Where’s he going?
Rhiannon [excitedly]: Camera! Where’s my iPod?!
Me [bellowing from the front of the house]: And did those feet in ancient time. Walk upon England’s mountains green: And was the holy Lamb of God, On England’s pleasant pastures seen!… And did the Countenance Divine...
My mother [flustered]: Where is he?!
Rhiannon [dashing from the dining room with her iPod in her hand]: He’s out on the front balcony!!!
My mother [leaping to her feet]: Nooooooooooo!!!