Christmas Parties- December 2012
It’s been two months of leaving on my own. I feel divorced without even being married. Christmas party season is now in full swing and every time I reach for a dress in my closet I am wondering whether Graeme has tried it on. Not nice. I am trying to come to terms with what has happened. This means that Archie is still living in a hotel, and I don’t know what the hell to do. I haven’t figured it out yet. Of course, he tried to explain that this is a cultural difference as he went to a very posh boarding school with no girIs. He assured me that the whole incident is nothing to worry about. Graeme has always loved to cross dress, according to Archie. I am still not convinced. This is not a situation I have heard about. I know that men can have mistresses. Sometimes they become gay. That said, I had never ever heard of cross dressing before. Maybe it is a British thing.
Honestly, why do you have kids in this country if you ship them to a boarding school as far as possible and as soon as you can? I don’t get it.
And, on top of everything else, for the privilege of not seeing your child any more, you will have to fork out more than 3500 pounds a month. What a rip off!
Apart from the obvious link between boarding schools and cross-dressing, I start to wonder what the real emotional impact of boarding schools are. Boarding schools are marginal in France. In fact, boarding schools usually are for delinquent. When my brother and me were naughty, my mum used to say:
“- Careful, I am going to send you to a boarding school if you don’t behave!” We were terrified.
What about the mums? How do they survive without their children? Surely this is against all maternal instincts. Lots of middle-aged women over here resort to a massive amount of tears and anti-depressants. Wine might help. Some even start drinking heavily in their forties. And they have to spend more money in rehab, cleaning up their act. No wonder some end up single, replaced by a younger version of them.
As for me, I would only send Alexandra to a boarding school if I had no choice (i.e. If I was sick, or living far, far away from a city, in the middle of a field of sheep for instance). Call me a French Mum!
Let us not kid ourselves here. I am trying to forget about Archie. Luckily, there is a lot to do to take my mind off it with all the Christmas parties going on. I bump into an old boss of mine, Rupert. I never really liked him. When I came back from maternity leave, my desk was occupied and I had nowhere to sit, so I ended up having to work from most of London’s libraries and the local Starbucks around the corner. Eventually I found another job and my new company is the main client of my old company. This means that my old boss Rupert the bully is now all matey matey with me. He has to keep in touch and tries a bit too hard to be nice now. It is funny how things can change in a short time, isn’t it? That said, it doesn’t change the fact that the guy is an arsehole.
We meet at another of those boring corporate events. He looks pretty shaken up, which surprises me because he is the kind of person who is so full of certainties that usually nothing can rock his boat. In an unusual twist, he opens up about what has happened.
“ A few days ago, my secretary asked me to talk to her in private. She told him that she felt uncomfortable because of the way I behaved with all women, in particular, during the Christmas party. She didn’t elaborate. I didn’t know what she meant. I still don’t. The Christmas party was good fun.”
“Well, I don’t remember anything out of the ordinary.”
Yeah right: he was so drunk that he can’t remember a thing.
“ I just tried to dance with everybody”
“- And frankly, I don’t remember much else.”
I am a terrible agony aunt, and I am not of much help. I just listen and nod. Simply put, rupert’s problems don’t interest me.
If the secretary has broken the law of silence, it must be pretty bad. You don’t break the Christmas party omertà for nothing. This is, in British terms, a declaration of war, nothing less.
I can’t resist it. I call her the following day. I am just too curious and my excuse is that I need to be distracted because of the whole Archie cross-dressing mess. She starts in a very British way:
“- You know, Rupert always liked his wine”
Translation: as you know, he has a drinking problem.
And then she tells me everything in a blur and can’t be stopped.
“He was so drunk that he started patting everything that remotely looked like a pair of breasts or bum cheeks. He ended up riding the fire extinguisher while explaining to me that he was the James Bond of the bedroom and he could prove it to me any time. I was not impressed nor interested for that matter but didn’t say anything.”
This confirms what I always knew: there is no remedy against jerkiness anyway. Whatever his nationality, a jerk remains a jerk.
In France, the way to deal with guys similar to Rupert is to send them a glass of cold water or a good old-fashioned slap. It usually does the job and everybody moves on. And also behaving like this when you are drunk wouldn’t be that big a deal either. Men who like women and show it are considered to be real leaders. You just have to look at our former presidents if you need any convincing. Chirac was even nicknamed “10 minutes including shower” because of his many short-lived conquests. Rupert should be French. That said, it wouldn’t make him any mess of a jerk.
Instead of distracting me, the whole thing acutely reminds me that Archie is definitely not a jerk. He would never do something like this. Suddenly I feel bad about being so harsh with him, and think that I should cut him some slack. But should I really? There is clearly a part of him I will never understand. His more British side, to be precise.
But he is not a scumbag just like my old boss Rupert and I am treating him just like one.
I decide to call him and we meet immediately after work.
He apologises profusely.
“ Carine, I didn’t know that it was going to be such a big deal. I am really sorry.”
“- Archie, I just wanted to tell you that I don’t want Alexandra to go to a boarding school.”
“- I think that I already knew this, Carine.”
“-You can come back home tonight but I would like to take it slowly. I am still pretty upset. Please sleep in the guest bedroom or on the sofa. Your choice.”
“-Whatever you want, Carine. I will make it up to you.”
He knows how not to argue with a woman, I give him that.
We are not there yet but it surely is a step forward. Maybe I need to buy a padlock for my closet. Better safe than sorry, after all.