Mommy Musings- Of Damaged Men
Thursday, 5.00pm. I am at Kempinsky for this Bloomberg forum on Forex. The room is a fusion of modern and medieval architecture. A thick blue Persian rug with yellow prints akin to the Brush Script MT font (does anyone ever use those weird fonts?) spreads out across the room. It sucks at my Louboutin soles like a starving infant drawing milk from its mother’s breasts. Golden chandeliers extend from the bronze ceiling, emitting a bright yellow glow that fills the empty hall with much-needed warmth. My two colleagues and I are the first to arrive. Either we are very idle or we are just hungry for information. I will go with the latter.
We are seated in the middle aisle, second last row. Obviously, we don’t want to be the targets when the hard questions start flying across the room. I pull out Ruchir Sharma’s The Rise & Fall of Nations and in less than a minute, my heart is sinking over Russia’s bad billionaires and growing inequality. I am that standoffish whenever I have a good book with me and I zone out pretty fast. Half an hour later, the hall starts to fill up as men and women totally bushed after 8 hours of frenetic trading in currencies and bonds and possibly trying to predict the unpredictable, stream in. Fixed Income traders, Treasurers, Economists, the works. Their faces, and suits bear it all. Fatigue. Lethargy. They try to feign energy with the success of a reveler at Brew Bistro trying to have an intelligent conversation at 3.00am. They probably only came for the after party, going by the lack of enthusiasm and late arrival.
Finally, the hall is packed to capacity and the moderator sets the forum off. 100 or so professionals are seated facing the podium. Five speakers, all men, are perched on the podium, facing the attendees. Don’t get me started on how disappointed I am about the gender mismatch. That’s a story for another day.
The first speaker walks to the dais, fumbles with his laptop as he tries to project his presentation on the wall. Caucasian, tall, maybe 6’3, biceps almost bursting at the seams of his prismatic blue shirt. He oozes so much charm without even uttering a word.
“My name is Eoghan, pronounced as Owen”.
I am not prepared for this. His deep voice is as arresting as his sturdy physique. His accent? All I know is that he should not dare speak in hushed tones. A Spaniard with an American accent. I am tempted to take a photo or record a video and send to my ever so hungry (or is it thirsty) single friends. I can only “kula kwa macho”, but who knows, one of my friends may just take up his surname. Leahy is his surname. Eoghan Leahy.
He speaks so eloquently with unperturbed composure. His theories are well articulated. He throws in witty remarks that set the initially tired crowd buzzing with hysteria. Just like that, the whole room is alive.
Is there a positive attribute this chunk of hotness does not possess? What are his shortcomings? Perhaps he snores so loudly and violently, you would almost think there is a tremor right there in your bed. If he is in your bed that is.
The last speaker gives his closing remarks and the room is abuzz with loud chatter. I check the time on my wrist watch. It’s 8.30pm. I take the chance to quickly dash out of the room. Being a back bencher was a genius idea, I think to myself. Not even the offer of free whisky at Kempinsky is tempting enough to keep me hanging around. My girls and I had planned to meet up for dinner at one of their houses at 7.00pm. I get into my car and drive like a maniac to Lavington. I haven’t seen them in ages and I don’t want to miss a thing.
The host, and three of my friends are cozied up on the couch, covered in throws and giggling like teenage girls. A bottle of blazon, pinot noir, has already succumbed to their thirst. I open a new one and join in the fun. After an hour of prattling, one of my friends utters words that halts all the chatter and laughter into a screech.
“I ended my marriage with Bradley.” She says.
Huh? I think somebody needs to bring me up to speed on what I may have missed as that statement makes no sense at all. My friend Hannah is the model wife. At least she has been for the last one year.
I look around and everyone else is staring at Hannah in disbelief.
“After a year of bending my back to accommodate his needs with no success, I finally packed up and left.” She adds, grabs her half full goblet and takes out the wine in one big gulp. Woah!
She goes ahead to tell us how it’s been five months since she left the father of her children. I do not understand what could possibly warrant a breakup after 5 years of “successfully” sailing through the tides of marriage.
She tells us that after struggling through the first four years, she decided to change her ways to accommodate him as she was convinced that she wasn’t doing enough. So she stopped working late, cut down on the number of friends and started spending more time at home. She stopped giving instructions to the maid on what to cook and how to cook it, and started preparing gourmet meals. Marinating chicken for two days, accompanying all meals with desert that she would prepare from scratch, not your usual Betty Crocker cake mixes! She stopped wearing flimsy outfits and started covering up more. She stopped having her occasional Southern Comfort with Tonic at Viva Lounge on Fridays and instead watched animated films with the kids. She stopped raising her voice whenever they would disagree on something and allowed him to be the head of the house. To have the final say. The only say. It was always his way or the highway.
She tells us how Bradley would go out on Friday and Saturday nights till 3am and whenever he got home, he expected Hannah to unlock the door within a second of his arrival. If she delayed for a split second, he would throw her out of the house. She could not count the number of times she sat on the staircase from 3am until morning when Bradley would sober up, come outside for his dear wife and apologize profusely. Sometimes, if she was quick enough to grab her car keys before being locked out, she would sleep in her car, or drive to her mother in law’s house, who always urged her to be patient with her son as he would eventually find sanity.
So she accustomed herself to the sound of his car and much as they lived on fourth floor, whenever Bradley would come home from his late night shenanigans, she would identify the sound of his Toyota Lexus from the gate, jump out of bed and wait for him by the door. She perfected the art of opening the door even before he placed his hand on it.
He then started complaining about food. Either it was too bland or too salty. Sometimes he said it was too white, other times the meat was too hard. He complained about electricity consumption, that they were watching too much television and taking too long in the shower. Whenever the electricity tokens would drop below a certain level (not sure how prepaid elec works though), the inhabitants of that house would not know peace. At 3am, he would scream their names, the two maids and Hannah, and they would all line up in the living room for questioning!
Finally, after getting a kick out of terrorizing the adults, he would go into the kid’s bedroom, pull their covers and engage them in mindless chatter. A five-year-old toddler and a 7-month infant. Hannah would beg him to leave the kids out of it and he would land a heavy slap across her face, sending her flying across the room.
One day, she was summoned to school and told about how her five-year-old son had cried an entire morning begging the teacher to call daddy and ask him not to beat mommy any more.
“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” She says, fighting back tears.
She promised her son’s teacher that she would get her house in order, got into her car and called a property agent. She went house hunting, found a house in a matter of hours and arranged for movers to ship her stuff to her new place.
She also tells us that she only left Bradley because his bad habits had started to affect the kids and that had it not stretched that far, she would put up with everything else.
This story pulverized me. It left me wondering what sort of person would have such an infinitesimal ego to draw pleasure from extending such barbarity to the mother of his children. Is it an issue of poor upbringing, or did they just not breastfeed enough to feel appreciated? While I know there is always two sides to a story and I am a biased party here, I don’t think anything would justify disrespecting one’s wife in the presence of the help, or worse still, beating her up as the kids watch helplessly and cry for them to stop hurting mommy. What kind of man would the son turn out to be when such violence becomes the norm? What happens to the millions of women out there who cannot walk out of such abusive relationships?
The fact that so many men in this town are completely damaged is very disheartening. They walk amongst us, work with us, work out with us, sit with us in church but only their women know how unstable they are and sadly, most of the women cover for them.
For a moment, I found myself thinking about “Alehandro” from the Bloomberg Forum and I really did not care about his commanding presence and the spell he had cast on me. He probably breaks into women’s houses, feels around their intimate belongings and abducts their pets. You know like in The Perfect Guy?
After my friend’s depressing revelation and Donald Trump’s leaked recording where he gloats about groping women by their genitalia, I have learnt to take all men with a pinch of salt. Until they prove otherwise.
To the good men out there, those who understand a woman’s worth and have embraced fatherhood like they were born for it. We heart you.