Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pension Plan

It’s my god-daughter Mina’s sixth birthday in a few days and seeing as I have nothing better to do with my life, I’m going to Munich for the celebrations.
            Her mother, my best friend, said, “Really, please don’t waste your money! It’s just going to be lots of screaming kids.”
            I bristled. “Well, you’re wasting my money right now on this long distance call telling me not to come when I’ve already bought the tickets!”
            “Excuse me, but I asked if you wanted to Skype and you said you couldn’t be bothered turning on your computer! Mina, stop it. Mamma’s talking to Go-pa!”
            The light of my life screamed, “I want to talk to Go-pa! Now!”
            “You are a wretched child! You have five minutes! Then you need to have your dinner and then bath time and then bed!”
            Sometimes, you can just tell that when a child grows up, she is going to have issues that will require long and expensive sessions of repressed memory therapy.
After a few tart comebacks between mother and child, Mina eventually seized the phone from her mother. “Go-pa, what presents are you bringing me?” she sang sweetly.
“Mina!” her mother shouted in the background.
“Wo ting bu dong!” Mina calmly replied.
“Stop being so irritating!”
Saffy later said over lunch that Mina’s facility with languages was endlessly impressive.
“Well, what do you expect?” I said. “Chinese mother, German father, English nanny.”
“Is her father still hot?” Saffy’s bosom heaved dramatically. “I only ever saw him at the wedding and he was hot.”
“Saffy, you were so drunk you told everyone you thought they were hot. You even told the minister he was hot!”
“Well, he was! There’s something about a man in a priest’s robes! It’s kind of like a Scotsman wearing a kilt. You just want to reach under and…”
Thankfully, the main courses arrived just in time.
Later, I couldn’t help but think about how much Mina has grown. If you ever wanted an indication of how time passes, you just need to look at a child. One minute, they’re a crying wrinkled bundle of folded skin and the next, they’re blathering on about who’s coming to their sixth birthday party in three languages.
Before you know it, they’ll have turned 18 and you feel an uncontrollable urge to hit a few leering boys on the head with a skillet. Blink, and you’re sobbing at their wedding.
The last time I saw Mina, I told her that when I grow old and infirm, I am going to come and live with her.
“Oh goody!” She beamed and clapped her hands. “We can play all day together!”
“Mina, dear,” her mother said. “Go-pa will be lucky if he can manage to get off the toilet seat! And excuse me, but why do you get to live with her? Where am I going to live?”
I sniffed. “You can go live with your son and be a burden on him! Don’t be so selfish!”
Saffy says she wants to come too.
“I just know I’m going to be all alone! I will need the company!”
“I thought you were going to marry Bradley?”
            “Oh, I am, but husbands always die first. They just have no staying power. That’s why I’m going to be a sad and lonely old widow!”
“Why don’t you go live with Sharyn?”
            “She’ll drive me nuts. Can you imagine? She’ll be aiyoh-ing me the whole day!”
When I told Sharyn this, she moaned, “Aiyoh, where got?”
Meanwhile, Saffy’s search for an agreeable old age shelter continues. “What about Amanda?” I asked.
“I may not be friends with Amanda by then, she’ll be old and cranky. But I know I’ll always be friends with you!”
Of course, I immediately reported this to Amanda who said that she had no intention of ever getting old. “They’re on the verge of a major breakthrough in stem cell research!” she said and added, “And failing that, I’m going to go to Switzerland and get myself injected with sheep placenta! Or, I could just marry Woffles Wu!”
The other day, while I was in the kitchen, I heard Saffy call Mina.
“Mina, my darling,” Saffy cooed. “It’s Auntie Saffy! When I’m old, can I come and stay with you?”
“Wo ting bu dong!”
Saffy was stumped. “Uhm, ok. Uh. Wo…wo lao de shi hou, wo…uhm…wait…wo ke yi lai…”
“Nein und auf wedersehn!” Mina said firmly and hung up the phone.
Saffy’s jaw dropped. “Did she just…did she just hang up on me?” she yelled. “That wretched child!”

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