It was cheese that opened Lou’s mind to the possibility that there was more than
one way in the world and that her way may not be the wrong way after all.
Every second weekend she and Henry went to their Dad’s place. The divorce was all
over with now and the new reality was a done deal. The kids waited for their
Dad to tell them his side of the story but he never did. He was busy with work
and his new wife and with God. He had plenty to say on each of these subjects
and it was sometimes hard to tell which one was the most important to him. But
one weekend they found out.
Lou remembers the list he marked off on his fingers one at a time in order of most
important to least. The most important thing was God. Then came Jesus. Then
came his new wife. Then came Henry and Lou. And if the aged rulebook was
anything to go by, and their Dad made it clear that it was, then as a girl
child, Lou came dead last.
Many children must wonder if their parents love each other more than they love their kids but to know for certain that they do, to have it spelt out to you,
read from a prepared list, well, that is more than any child should have to
hear. Particularly when the spouse on the list isn’t even your own parent.
Their Dad was living in the now and in the future and notions of explanation, of remorse for
his children’s loss seemed beyond him. But more than that, Lou felt that he
resented the implication that he should feel remorse. Their Mum felt remorse,
expressed it often, but not him.
But there’s more than one way to slice cheese. Lou knew that the way to do was in
thick slices. That’s how her Mum liked it. Lou didn’t like the way the thick
slices stuck to the roof of her mouth. But Mum liked big chunks. In salads too.
Lou felt herself opening her mouth far too wide in order to fit these mammoth chunks
in her mouth and as she entered her teen years and tried to become more of a
lady than a tomboy, these thick slices and chunks made it difficult to be
elegant. What a revelation it was then to find that her Dad preferred his
cheese sliced thin.
One weekend, let’s say it was a different one to the ‘you’re on the bottom of the
list’ weekend, she was making sandwiches for lunch and her Dad looked over her
shoulder to say that the cheese was too thick. He couldn’t understand why Lou would have sliced it that thick to start with and he half laughed, half grimaced, looking at the slabs of
cheese on the board. She was relieved. She was like her Dad – she didn’t like
the cheese sliced thick either.
Palitja Moore 2015