In case you missed it, news broke that Arnold had a child with one of the household staff (over 10 years ago). Really, how cliché. Was he trying to pretend he was a Royal? A Kennedy wasn’t good enough?
Honestly, I feel for the children. People say that, but no one really talks about what it is like to have a parent cheating and know about it. Or even worse, finding out you have a half-sibling.*
I have long had a hidden fear of someone showing up on my doorstep claiming to be my half-brother or sister. In fact when I was told about my sister being ill, I thought there was a second bomb about to be dropped. It thankfully turned out to be a false alarm.
Recently I actually have been thinking for some weird reason about the role I played. When it was happening, I didn’t really think much about it. I just accepted it as how things were. I never questioned it. Mostly I think out of fear.
What I have been puzzling over is why I was never told to get lost during those weekly afternoon trysts. Why didn’t I join a group at school that met on Tuesdays or even just go to the library or some place?
When I did come home from school I would usually find them in the living room, talking and having drinks and maybe pâté and crackers. I was expected to join them. And then they would go upstairs. And I would be set with the task of making dinner and setting the table. Maybe I did my homework? Honestly the memory is blank, although I know I was there and that I usually stayed downstairs.
Then we would all have dinner together like it was normal. Just another Tuesday night. All the was missing was a rousing game of Yatzee!
The other somewhat odd thing I recall is never really cooking. I might be asked to make a salad. Or sometimes my Mom might buy a roasted chicken. Every once in a while she would make something more involved like beef stew, but that was really rare. As a rule, she didn’t cook for him.
The old standby was a vegetable platter with a dip made of Bob’s Big Boy blue cheese dressing mixed with plain yogurt. There would also usually be some tuna salad and rolls she got from the local bakery. I want to say I may have even made tomato soup from a can, but that might be wrong.
When I was in Cambridge, I got word that my Mom had fallen and was pretty bruised as a result. She was fine, but I took it to mean I should come home sooner than later. I had planned to fly back from London to San Francisco and spend a few days in Berkeley before heading back to LA, but I canceled that part of the trip.
What’s really funny is that I remember there being a $50 change fee, and trying to use my Mom’s Amex to pay for it. I knew she had booked the tickets with it, so it was on file. The person at the office had to call American Express and hand me the phone. I was able to answer all the security questions. Of course when I handed back the phone she asked the person there how old I appeared to be, and it was over. I paid for it with my card. I learned later that they also called my mother to report the breach.
At any rate, I arrived home a few days earlier, not thinking about what day it was, or who might be at the house. I had a key, so I could let myself in. I wanted to surprise her. Whatever was I thinking?
I’m not sure how I figured out he was there. Maybe I saw his car in the garage. I do remember though taking two trips to get all my stuff from the curb to the front door, despite having managed to have lugged all of it across the tube station.
I heard them talking about my feet (you could see people’s feet pass from the downstairs patio), so I knew that they were aware I was there. I honestly hadn’t thought of this possibility. And of course the person who told me about my mother’s accident had no way of reminding me. I had been gone three months, and I guess my mind let me forget.
They were at least happy to see me. I had been up for about 24 hours, so really just wanted to crash. Clearly my Mom was okay. I felt like an idiot. And really I couldn’t believe I had given up a trip to the bay area for this.
* I did almost have a half-sibling (but not from this relationship).