Here we are again. I keep writing this rubbish, you keep reading it. I need the attention. You’re enabling me. This is what an abusive relationship looks like. I don’t know who’s to blame, you or me. I don’t know who I hate more.
Friday. There’s too much pressure. It builds during the week. Friday brings the expectation of the weekend and the weekend is fun, right? The weekend is inherently better than the week, right? RIGHT? Friday to get through first, though. Easy. Doddle. Nothing to worry about.
Trouble is, I have to deal with my seemingly split personality and the depression that creeps around my head like an intruder creeping around a sorority house. Depression builds up, higher and higher, a rickety tower of corruption and misery that’s waiting for the opportunity to topple over and crush the cosy village of my spirit. Depression is like migraine of the soul: some days I’m fine, then other days it hits hard.
I had a simple morning planned. School run for six year old, pop to the Post Office for Mrs Viper’s parcel, zip into the shop for butter and squash.
I knew that something was wrong as I walked to the school.
Hero: Ah, the school run! It’s nearly the end of term! Christmas is almost here.
Viper: Look at those festive pavements. The elves have been busy. Dog shit, fag ends AND condoms. What a wealth of interest. Oh, that’s lovely. They’ve excelled themselves: fag end stubbed IN dog shit! Marvellous.
Why is it that the other parents on the school run seem utterly unaware that there are other people around them? Why is it always the morbidly obese that think it’s safe to stop suddenly or walk backwards while on the mobile? Why are people so confused that I’m prepared to hold the door open and let a few families out before I barge into the classroom?
Hero: Let me get that door! Come on folks, out you come. No,no, I’ll wait. Busy, busy! Nearly the weekend, eh?
Viper: Get a fucking shuffle on! Stop bloody dithering and chatting in the FUCKING DOORWAY! Don’t offer me the chance to come in and then stand there blocking the door like a glob of fat in an artery!
After I’d dropped off the six year old, the three year old and I were on the way to the post office. Local dogs have clearly been having some sort of dirty protest. I decided that we should cross the road, but this quiet side street has suddenly become the site for a parade of the worst drivers in the East Midlands. Somehow, these drivers managed to gridlock the road. I almost applauded.
Hero: Well, well! What are the chances of that?
Viper: The chances are very fucking high because IQs round here are in the single figures. Exterminate the brutes.
The shops and the post office were the site of a convention for the terminally confused. These seemed to be people who struggled with social interaction, the concept of shopping and the laws of physics. No, Mr Mobility Scooter Driver, driving head on into everyone and everything doesn’t make you like a train driver, it makes you a man who swears at a bin when it won’t move out of his way. Yes, old lady, when you stop abruptly, inches in front of a number of other people who are walking, they DO brush past you as they rapidly change direction rather than pushing you to the ground and trampling your useless carcass. I’m afraid, elderly couple, that no matter how long you stare in bemusement, that poster will remain Polish, a language you do not understand.
I smiled at the cashier and I put my parcel on the scales.
“What’s in the parcel?” the cashier asked. He sounded both bored and suspicious.
Hero: Tell him.
“I’m not sure, soaps I think,” I said, giving a carefully dopey smile that was meant to demonstrate my gentle silliness.
He rolled his eyes. He actually rolled his eyes. “We have to KNOW because of safety,” he said, this time blending bored with irritated.
“Let me just get the precise details,” I said, whipping out my phone and texting the ever-reliable Mrs Viper.
He eyed the queue behind me.
Hero: Oh dear! What an amusing slip up.
Viper: Warn him that if he rolls his fucking eyes again, you’ll rip them out and post them to his children with a note saying, “Here’s looking at you, kids!”
The text arrived. “Yes, it’s some soaps,” I said, patting the box. “Nothing too dangerous.”
“Fine,” he said. Yes, bored. Always bored. Also disdainful.
I gave a cheery smile and paid for the postage. I reflected that I could have lied to him. He didn’t take my details. I wondered whether I might have fun and post explosives in future and say that they were soaps. I’m not sure what that would achieve, but it would feel like a victory over the man. In this case, over THAT man. “Thank you!” I said, strolling away.
Hero: He probably hates his job, poor chap. I hope he has a nice day.
Viper: I hope he hates himself. I hope he has syphilis.
My lovely little girl wanted a ride on the fire engine in the super market. It costs a pound. Pounds are a valuable commodity in our home, but I decided to treat her.
It didn’t work. The pound went in and jammed. I could see the pound. I could not retrieve the pound.
Hero: Oh dear! What a swizz! Poor little thing, she can’t have her ride!
Viper: Ok kiddo, let’s get you out of this thing so I can smash it into fucking splinters and then use those splinters to stab everyone in this shit-smeared town.
We popped over to tell one of the super market ladies. She glared at the machine. She hated it as much as I did. An ally! She gave my sad child a sympathetic look. “That machine is menace! It’s broken more than it’s working. Let me take you to customer services and get that pound back,” she said in the voice of a sweet, heavy-smoking angel. We got our pound back within a minute. WE GOT OUR POUND! Customer services said dark things about the company behind the cursed fire engine.
Viper: So we’re celebrating that we’re back where we started financially and we’ve wasted a few minutes of life? Yeah. Hurrah.
We searched for butter until we found it. We don’t normally come to this supermarket, it’s too big. Why do shoppers need a choice of over fifty types of butter/spread/marge/lube? Next we searched for squash. Other shoppers were more interested in dawdling, having loud conversations about their racist views or staring in confusion at bread. It’s BREAD! What do you want from it?!
Hero: Well, some of them are old, bless them.
Viper: Then let them DIE! Let them die for the good of the community.
An old couple and an old man turned their trolleys to face each other, blocking the whole aisle. Were they forming a barricade? Was this a ‘Les Mis’ tribute?
Hero: OK, that’s ridiculous.
Viper: SET FIRE TO THEM!
Hero: Bit far.
We just turned around and took a different route. We located an acceptable bottle of squash. Then we fought our way through the horde of shambling goblins so that we could get out.
Now, I know that automated tills are taking jobs from humans, but as a man who hates humans, I’m happy. I cannot describe to you the almost orgasmic joy that a misanthrope feels when dealing with a machine rather than a person. No small talk, just business. It’s even polite. It says please. It doesn’t have feelings or opinions. Personally, I’d like to have sex with it.
Did I write that? Yes, I did. I could edit it out, but I won’t. I love our new machine rulers and I will happily express that love physically.
As we’re leaving, we pass the ‘Surprise Egg’ vending machine. I tried to distract my little one with conversation about the habits of flying reindeer, but she saw through my ruse. She wanted an egg. I could have said no. I did not.
Hero: Bless her, she’s a good little girl.
Viper: Oh great, more significant plastic. Let’s see how long it takes to break or get lost or cause a permanent and disabling injury. Two pounds worth of complete crap. Why not just throw the money at a passerby? It would be more satisfying.
On our way home, my daughter cradled her egg like she had found a precious treasure. A local mentally ill man, wearing a Santa hat, gave me a cheery wave and a heartfelt “Merry Christmas!”.
“Merry Christmas to you too!” I replied, hoping that he didn’t stab me or follow me home.
Hero: Bless him.
Viper: When you look at him, you see your future, you nutcase.
We got in. “Can we open my egg?”
“Just let me get the door shut.”
“Can we open my egg?”
“We need to get gloves and things off, don’t we?”
“Can we open my egg?”
“Nearly ready, let’s get you out of the buggy.”
“Can we open my egg?”
“OK, let daddy get the tricky plastic off.”
“DON’T TOUCH MY EGG!”
“Alright, you do it, here you go.”
“I DON’T WANT THAT!”
The thunder of small but powerful feet receded up the stairs.
I sighed and got on with the laundry and the washing up.
Hero: She gets over excited.
Viper: You’ve created a monster.
We’re in the living room now. The egg is open (it was a joint venture). The Play Doh is being doughily played with. I’m deflating my depression by turning it into absurd words. It’s working. When I get like this, I need to find a well and bellow into it. The internet is my bellowing-well. That makes you some sort of weird, Gollum-like creature that flops about at the bottom of the well, listening to my ranting.
Merry Christmas, you floppy well-dweller!