Bastard Moment

I first read the term, bastard moment, in a book my mother gives me when I visit her. This is ironic, as I have my first bastard moment (bm?) just a day after I read the term. We’ve been out for a meal, at my brother’s restaurant, of course, because it’s failing and he needs the support. At the meal are my mother, her husband, my sister, her boyfriend and me. My sister-in-law waits on us. My brother isn’t there, pursuing a bit of escapism form the failingness of his business, something to which he isn’t accustomed. Afterwards, we start to walk in the direction of my mother’s house, a nice stroll around the estate. It’s August on the south coast of England, a perfectly cool, breezy evening. The walk, on full tummies, promises to be a fine end to the evening.

Barely off the front patio of the restaurant, my sister sees a longtime friend, strolling in the direction of the pub across the road with her boyfriend and her family. The two groups join up, begin the standard hellos and so forth. A circle forms. The conversation rises. No-one offers an introduction. The circle tightens. You know who’s on the outside, finding the breeze a wee bit cooler than anticipated. Minutes go by. Double digits of minutes then pass. Still no intro. I toy with stepping in, sticking out my hand; decide to wait and watch and see what happens. 

The groups eventually part, heading in opposite directions. I step on. I’m a brisk walker anyway, and I’m cold on several levels. 

My mother catches me, links her arm through my elbow, tells me she’s sorry she didn’t introduce me. “It wasn’t worth it.” This is meant to be an explanation, a justification. I wonder if it would ever be “not worth it” to introduce my sister. My legitimate sister. I know the answer. Sure, there are times when introductions just don’t happen — the exchange is loose, brief, with an old acquaintance. I’ve sat through one of these recently with my Dad. It makes sense. 

But this was a tightening circle, not so brief, and with old friends. This was a time when I wasn’t worth the explaining. This was a bastard moment. Another development to add to the list of things that can happen only in reunion.


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