The Six Stages of Grief

Brenda has left me. Not alone, of course. She is far too vindictive for that. She has left me with our monstrosity of a son and a skanky cat called Boris.

She moved out when I went to the shops for a couple of hours. The feeble-minded brat, Clive, later claimed that I was gone for a couple of days, but teenagers now have access to an entirely new range of pharmaceuticals that speed up time.

When we were young, all we had was a raggedy old spliff that made us feel as if we were doing 180km/h before we had even got out of first gear.

To be honest, I was considering throwing Brenda out anyway. Lately she had taken to holing up in bars and drinking with strange men until the early hours of the morning.

With Brenda gone, the house seems awfully big. I expect this is because I can now enter previously forbidden zones such as her side of the bed, her side of the lounge, the entire kitchen and certain sections of the garden without running the risk of grievous bodily harm.

Apart from having more freedom of movement, there are other things that I am able to do. Primal screaming is one.

The first went splendidly. It made the cat disappear. The second made me cough up a pint of blood, which wasn’t nearly as much fun.

Every time I pass the toilet I make a point of going in there, whether I want to or not, and putting the seat up. This gives me tremendous pleasure but it does wear a bit thin after a while.

When I lose reception on the television I no longer have to get up and give it a polite tap. I can, from a reclining position, throw empty beer cans at it.

I can even throw the cat if it ever comes back. Hell, if my so-called son weren’t such a pubescent aberration of nature, I would throw him too.

When I called Ted and told him that Brenda had left me, he made a whole bunch of sympathetic clucking noises for the benefit of his wife, Mary, who was clearly listening in on the extension.

Then he offered to come around and console me. The consolation prize turned out to be three cases of beer, two bottles of purple stuff from one of the breakaway Soviet republics and enough biltong to make a grown vegan weep.

Ted made big eyes and told me that Mary had wanted to come along. She told him that what I needed was an objective appraisal of the situation.

Nonsense,” Ted had replied. “What Ben needs most of all is enormous quantities of alcohol.”

Mary had put on her disapproving face and said this was not a time to celebrate.

Quick as a flash, Ted had pointed out that liquor was a clinically proven depressant and that all he wanted to do was make sure I felt suitably depressed. He said he owed it to Brenda.

Mary couldn’t argue with that, not even if he hadn’t locked her in the bedroom and taken her car keys.

By the time Ted banged on the door pretending to be Captain Caprivi from the vice squad, as he does every time he comes to visit, I was well on the way to becoming maudlin.

Maudlin is a few steps behind depressed so Ted uncorked the purple stuff and brought me up to where he thought I should be.

From there we worked our way through the stages that all men must go through when their women leave them. Overwhelming relief is not meant to be one of them.

The first stage was Denial.

I have always been reluctant to engage in this touchy-feely gay-friendly kind of thing, but Ted handed me a cold beer and my resistance crumbled instantly.

I quickly admitted that I was in Denial, drank the beer and grabbed another.

Let’s move on to Anger,” said Ted, snatching the beer away from me. This made me furious and I verbally assaulted him with several Hail Marys and a How Dare You and before I knew it I was heavily into Bargaining.

Things were getting a bit too Faustian, even for Ted, so he gave my beer back and threw in a shot glass of purple stuff as some kind of physiological reward. This wasn’t nearly enough. I wanted more.

I wanted the biltong, too, but he wouldn’t give it to me. This led to Depression setting in.

Ted got up and put on Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads to take me even further down, but the sound of a woman weeping began cheering me up so he took it off and put on one of the brat’s Marilyn Manson records instead.

Then he sat there and drank more beer right in front of me and watched me sob like a girl.

When he thought I had suffered enough, he reached into his trousers and brought out a giant slab of dried kudu haunch. With that simple gesture I reached the fifth and final stage of grief – Acceptance.

It was quite a moment. But once we had held each other in the way that heterosexual men do when sharing in the futility of it all, we got a bit embarrassed and embraced the remnants of the beer, the purple stuff and the kudu instead.

Much later Ted revealed there was a sixth stage that grieving men hardly ever share in polite company. This is called Closure.

Apparently, the only way to achieve it is to go to a house of ill repute and have carnal relations with a perfect stranger. I told Ted that I had been trying to have carnal relations with a perfect stranger for most of my marriage, with harrowing results, but he said it wasn’t the same thing.

He said there was a fundamental difference between having a stranger for a wife and having a stranger for a couple of hours. Then he carried me to the car.

I remember the sound of seagulls and someone sobbing hysterically, but that’s about all.

When I woke up I made myself a Bloody Mary, went back to bed and slipped into the warm, forgiving arms of Denial where I intend staying until Anger comes around again.

And it will. Oh, yes. I feel it already.

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