MY friend’s daughter could get away with murder. At two, Pandy broke stuff and it was always the stuff’s fault – even the owners of the stuff said so.
By 15, she was never the one who copied other people’s homework, smoked behind the shed or spilled nail varnish on her desk. Even though she did.
A lot of people loved Pandy, but a goodly number didn’t. Her crime? An innocent air that not only a mother but that any half-witted man or beast with eyesight could love. She was and always will be the absolute opposite of people like me: the unfortunate twits born with a guilt complex.
I’m actually a model citizen, but I came to this world with the face of a criminal. Not a violent or serious one mind – just the shifty type who might filch a thong in the lingerie aisle, or smuggle a million naughty things through customs when someone isn’t looking.
I’d be a hopeless thief, even though I apparently – according to various forms of authority – look the part.
For whatever reason, I am the one hauled off at customs, stopped at roadblocks and gently paused at Edgars for a little longer than normal to have my bags checked. People in uniforms or positions of power need only glance in my direction to get their handcuffs itching.
I could be wrong, but I’m convinced that guilty faces are genetic. My daughter has one, but my son doesn’t. Ironically, he’s the one who pulls the cat’s tail and stuffs crayons in his mouth, while she will spend most of her waking hours trying to do the right thing – all the while looking like she’s done something truly, madly dangerous.
Subconsciously, I’m sure that I married my husband because he looks even more guilty than I do. Perhaps that’s how we really choose our mates and not by cuteness, brain or bank balance alone.
This is one of the reasons we don’t travel much. Stopping at a roadblock with my husband is the equivalent of being holed up in a broken lift with six guests from the Jerry Springer show and no loo.
It is painful, beyond all that is holy, to watch a six-foot man sink lower and lower into his seat as the sweetest, plumpest traffic officer on the planet unobtrusively and kindly saunters over to ask for his licence.
He feels, sweats and looks like a man who has R200000 worth of unpaid fines, a bunch of illegal substances in the boot and a false number plate. His wife and daughter are slinking about in the passenger seats, clearly accomplices.
That’s one of the reasons we had a second child. He’s cute, but is just as useful as insurance against the whole family being clanged into prison to be pursued by toothless inmates named Bubba, who lost a pencil, and can see, just by looking, that we stole it.