Introducing Useless Boyfriend

Nine years ago, I was a scientist. I spent my days in the lab trying to fathom the inner workings of a nasty little virus, and my nights slumped on friends’ sofas, trying to fathom the inner workings of men. We watched Friends, ate junk and complained bitterly about the 2 cm2 of cellulite on our upper thighs. We dissected the latest antics of our useless boyfriends and PhD supervisors, and dreamt about how everything would fall into place post-PhD, when we finally moved out of shared accommodation, got married and had 2.7 kids.

Then somehow, life showed its great sense of humour. It all started in a rather banal fashion, when my Useless Boyfriend of the moment dumped me. Friends offered cheap wine and commiserations from the “he didn’t deserve you anyway” range, I alternatively contemplated pouring ethanol into his cell cultures, and retiring to a convent, possibly both… Two weeks later, I sat on the grubby stairs of my shared house, holding a positive pregnancy test, which might as well have been radioactive.

If my life had been an episode of Friends, someone would have said something hilarious. Rather disappointingly, no one managed anything funnier than “What?” or “Oh shit!”, with the exception of  Ex-Useless Boyfriend who asked at least a dozen times “How did it happen?” (Not quite Friends material but nonetheless I thought a pretty good effort). I can only assume he was  still trying for humour nine months later, when I rang him because I was in labour, and he  said he could not fly back early from his holiday in France.

Today, interestingly enough, the man flew to France to spend a week end with his distraught son. After seven and a half years, could he be getting what being a father is all about?

Morcheeba – Blindfold

This post is for Sandra whose sofa I must have worn holes into. Missing you.


7 thoughts on “Introducing Useless Boyfriend

  1. E,

    Poor you.

    I didn’t realize the extent of the awful situations you have been in and compounded difficulty of you being alone twice now. Are you Job’s little sister?

    As Friends is a TV show I used to love, I spent a few minutes writing up some lines so perhaps you CAN find a little humour in what happened back then. (This may not be a good effort, but I have won a few prizes in competitions in the past).


    In the kitchen, PHOEBE tries to sew a button. Unsuccessfully. Occasional shrieks accompany her efforts.

    JOEY whirls nunchucks dangerously in the living room. Grunts and yelps ring out as he accidentally hits various body parts.

    The doorbell rings. Joey is distracted and dives for the floor to avoid another mild concussion. The nunchucks fall on him. Another yelp.

    Phoebe tries to get up and sew and walk, and open the door without letting go of the needle and thread. The doorbell rings again. Phoebe angrily discards her shirt and needle and opens the door. ROSS and CHANDLER are there, beer in hand.

    Now look what you made me do!

    Umm…we’re sorry?

    Ross and Chandler step in and see Joey slowly getting up from the floor with the nunchucks.

    So Joe, still working on the kung fu? Seriously,
    man, you have to consider occasionally telling
    the truth on your Bio.

    Joey throws the nunchucks on the couch, comes over, and grabs a beer.

    I know, I know. But Estelle got me an audition
    with this hip Asian director. He’s into edgy violent
    flicks. I saw Enter The Dragon–it didn’t look
    that hard.

    RACHEL comes out of her bedroom to a general chorus of hellos.

    I was waiting for the screaming to die down a little.

    The doorbell rings. Everyone stops and looks at each other.

    Aren’t we all here?

    Chandler shrugs, goes to the door, and opens it. A pretty French woman, E, is there. Way out of his league.

    Joey, this is probably for you.

    E lifts up a pregnancy test. A puzzled Chandler reaches out, realizes what it is, and inspects it without touching. He sees it’s positive and jumps back.

    Sorry, Joe, my mistake.
    Ross, this is probably for you.

    Note: If any mistake was made by you, it seems to be at the very start of all this. What’s this crazy idea that you might “fathom the inner workings of men”? I assume that by now you have learned that many men don’t have inner workings. They have a thirst for beer and thirst for sports to watch and complain about. Not all men, but many men.

    In your final paragraph, you mentioned that your son’s father flew in to see him. My honest and probably inaccurate opinion, without having the faintest idea what he is like or any real understanding of the situation, is that he will grow closer to his son and take some of the burden off you. As his son grows up from a small crying thing into a young man, his interest will probably evolve. This is mostly good news for you looking forward, but doesn’t give you back the tough early years. And now you have another young one to cope with. And I thought I had it tough. As I said, poor you.

  2. Hey Sean,
    Yep, that’s twice now. You talent is obviously wasted on writing, you should have been a mathematician ;o).
    Anyway, haaaaw, thanks for writing me into a Friends script, that’s just brilliant!

    I can only hope you’re right about exUB and our son getting closer over the years. As you said, it would not make up for the years of limited interest, but it would be great for my boy.
    Hope your week end isn’t going too badly?

    • Hi E,

      Glad you appreciated my magnificient math skills (1+1=2) and the Friends skit. 🙂

      Regarding my weekend, I might well add a post to my own blog about it (have you subscribed to be kept up-to-date on all my breaking news and breaking hearts?), but you can have the world-premiere preview version…

      My wife has decided to go out and do her own thing fairly regularly, usually without sharing me where she is going or with whom. Today, I had the ‘opportunity’ to drive her to the local train station, and pick her up later, so she could spend 4 hours or so downtown this afternoon with a colleague from work. This evening, she drove herself to a party, one that was originally a joint invitation. That’s not much fun; being cut out like that.

      But my girls stepped up. My eldest daughter doesn’t come back from college every weekend so my younger two kept me busy with one thing or another all day today…

      Dropped off #3 to a flute competition very early in the morning and went out to breakfast with #2 when I got back. (My girls have real names, nice names, and there will be a small and uneventful ‘reveal’ when this mess becomes more public in my area.) Back to the flute competition to listen to two solo pieces by #3, then took her with me to get oil changed in my car. Picked up #2 from her ballet lesson. #3 helped me run some Ethernet cabling to my wife’s basement bedroom so I could move her PC down there (actually a plus for me; I get my roll-down desk back after all these years). To my complete amazement, #2 and #3 (I’m really not used to these silly numbers and might have to make up ‘stage names’ for them soon) actually completed all of the chores I set them (*gasp*) and on time (*splutter*)!

      Since I’d been promising for so long and not delivered on it, I took the girls out for a cheap Chinese meal at a tiny place in central McLean. In the USA, and maybe everywhere else for all I know, fortune cookies are served at the end of the meal. Mine said “Someone is speaking well of you” and the girls looked at each other, and started laughing and winking at me. It seems they are now old enough to have heard of the ‘adult’ version of the fortune cookies, where you add “in bed” to the end of the fortune. So much for them having a few more innocent years. God help me when they start telling me dirty jokes.

      We had to get some things from the grocery store on the way back and, lo, one of their friends was there too. I spent a pleasant half-hour chatting with a parent while #2 and #3 babbled on happily and noisily with their friend. McLean is like a small village in some ways; I’m always meeting people I know in stores and restaurants or just walking around.

      The girls have a 3-day weekend and, by some bad luck, both of their sleepovers didn’t work out for tonight, so the three of us decided to stay in and watch a movie. We went for Mission:Impossible. Not a new movie, but fairly exciting on the big TV screen with the nice sound system. As always, I edited out a few of the violent bits but they don’t mind that.

      Not long after the girls went to bed tired and ready for sleep, my wife came home and went straight downstairs to her room. I should be grateful she came home sober…or even that she came home at all.

      A couple of hours later, while I was tapping away at some e-mails, one of my little angels walked in, looking sleepy and sorry for herself. Her period had started and made a mess that needed to be cleaned up. She was too tired to do it and I got everything sorted out. I only mention this private and personal moment because it made me realize how quickly my life has changed from Mr. Work Guy, Mr. DIY Guy, Mr. Home Finance Guy, and so on. I am now also a Mr. Mom with a much more inwardly-focused life.

      It’s a whirlwind experience, and I’m still on the front end of this, and I have had some kind of notice to give me time to try to adapt. I can’t really see how you’ve been able to cope at all. Perhaps a strong friend network and the release from your blog has helped?

      All the best…

  3. Wow, sounds like your wife has temporarily resigned from her being a mum job too. Tough on the girls and you, but you seem to be holding it together, so well done. I know it’s hard and I’m sure at times you just feel like giving up.
    But you’re just being the best of you, just doing what you can in a crap situation and you seem to be doing well. Take care

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