|The 40 In 40 Days Project.|
34. The Interrogation (1978)
The Au Pairs
|The worst rows
usually took place on Sunday afternoons – in those dead hours between
lunchtime last orders and 6 o’clock early doors. As the booze wore
off, so tempers flared.
I was upstairs in my room, working on
an essay. I could hear raised voices downstairs, and was doing my best
to ignore them. If I hid here long enough, hopefully the storm would
Suddenly, a furious shout. My
“MICHAEL! MICHAEL! I WANT YOU
DOWNSTAIRS – NOW!”
I run downstairs as quickly as I can,
not knowing what was going to happen next, but dreading it all the same.
It’s a well worn saying, but my
father’s face really is crimson with rage. He points to a dining chair
which he has pulled out into the middle of the room, and orders me to
sit. He and my stepmother are standing facing me. My stepmother’s head
is half turned away; her expression is one of sneering contempt, for me
and for my father in equal measure.
“ARE – YOU – A HOMOSEXUAL
It’s another well worn saying, but I
really do wish that the earth would open up and swallow me. I am shocked
and terrified. This is the worst yet. I manage to squeak a denial.
“HAVE YOU EVER HAD SEX WITH A MAN?”
No, I haven’t – at least this is
“DO YOU EVER INTEND TO HAVE SEX WITH
No, I don’t. At this moment, I would
gladly never have sex with a man for as long as I live. I hate myself
for fancying men. I would give anything not to be a filthy homosexual
queer. No, I will find a girlfriend – I will, I will. I just haven’t
met the right girl yet, that’s all it is. Oh, this is terrible. I am
already in tears. God, I must look pathetic. Snivelling wretch. Wimp.
Poof. Fairy. Sleazy sneaky pervert.
“RIGHT – I’M PHONING A DOCTOR AND
I’M GETTING A MEDICAL TEST!”
My father strides off towards the
phone. They can’t do that, can they? Well, that’s it then. I’ll be
exposed immediately. Then he’ll be ten times more angry with me than
he is right now, and he’ll never stop being angry with me ever again.
As my father’s hand reaches for the
receiver, an inflammatory remark from my stepmother sends him
charging back over to her. The row continues – the phone call is
forgotten. The storm passes - the day seemingly returns to normal. I go
back upstairs, compose myself, and try to act like nothing has happened.
It's the only strategy available. Keep my head down, ride it out, bide my time, pass my exams - and then get the hell out.