Don’t you know I need a man in my life? She said. No you don’t, I replied, twisting my feet on its outer arch—something she’d never liked. I thought the case against him was obvious: the man was making promises he had shown no signs of fulfilling. To make matters worse, he made the promises after the auditions, to mother, as if speaking sensibly in front of us, my sisters and I, was too degrading for him.
You are being naïve and difficult, she said, plaintively, as if anything I said at that point would change the fact that she’d chosen him and was on the way to convincing my sisters. I was already outvoted.
If naïve and difficult meant refusing to believe a man like him could fulfill the promise of washing the toilet once every two weeks, then I was glad being naïve. He was incredibly hirsute, and the times we’ve had Esau’s descendants in the house, they’ve all turned out to be slobs in spite of their obvious desire to do better.
And my hunch was right. First time he used the bathroom, there was hair everywhere—on the toilet set, in the wash-hand basin, clogging the drain of the bath—like the place had been temporarily turned into a barber’s shop. Of course I cleaned the bathroom the first week, my mind on the promise of him washing it the following week. But then I walked in on him one day as he was toweling, saw the forest in his armpit, and knew there was no way that man was going to wash the toilet.
I told my immediate younger sister to just prepare to resume her place on the cleaning roster. She smiled like I was joking. Second week passed, and the bathroom started to look like a farm for harvesting human hair. Go wash the bathroom, mama shouted at her. That was the moment he lost the support of my sister, one of his vocal campaigners during the stepdad auditions.
The only thing he did during the auditions was to play guitar and promise my baby sister candy. The girl screeched and said she wanted her daddy—my last step-dad. The guitar was obviously a wrong move, but mum was able to convince her she wanted candy more than her daddy. The other men had offered more substance in their auditions. One man typed out his plans for the family on glossy paper and made a dumbed down version for baby-sister. Even just-booted-out-by-mama stepfather came with a 10-page power point presentation of his agenda, but we had none of it. Except for baby sister, of course, who loved her daddy and his endless supply of candy.
After his third week in the house with no candy to show, baby-sister went to mama and said: Where’s my candy. Mama was like, Come on, next week is Halloween, he’s just trying to select the best candy for you. Then Halloween night came and no candy and my sister entered the living room as we all sat for an episode of Super Story plugged her ears with her fingers and started to scream: I want my daddy, I want my daddy.
Stop the wailing, mama shouted. But she did not stop. When do we get the chance to choose another daddy? I asked. Shut you mouth, she said. And I laughed. We had not even started on his promise to help out with the plates during the weekends. I turned my face back to the TV; the super story was just beginning.
Featured image via Flickr by Cajsa Lilliehook