Excerpts from The Secondhand Man, by Karin Jaeckel,
Matrimony-pessimists: MANUEL, ROSI and CLEMENS [p, 107]
MANUEL: When I'm fairly old
12 years. Orphan of divorce for two years. Lives with his mother
Father: Cohabits with his girlfriend
Grounds for divorce: Extra-marital affair of the mother and her wish to
No joint custody
|When I'm fairly old, about 35 years or so, that's when I'll get myself one
[note]. Very likely a blonde. Because I think blonde is truly
lascivious. Only coloured hair, but no, not that. On account of the
environment and such, because colouring, but really, that is crazy, because it all winds
up in the groundwater.
When my wife is there then, she'll naturally get a child. Or
triplets. Then I'll stay home and be the househusband and slouch on the couch and
laze in front of the TV and play cards with my friends and such. To be househusband
is cool. When the divorce comes eventually, I'll be in fine shape. Then my
wife has to pay for me. And she'll think three times whether she'll want that.
Most likely she'll want to stay together with me. That's then the lesser evil.
note: the last phrase of the sentence does not translate well. It is a coarse
expression that is somewhat more acceptable in German than in English, but only
barely. Literally, the expression translates into "...that's when I'll tear one
open for myself." WHS]
ROSI: When I'm big
10 years. Lives with her mother in a household shared with the grandmother
Father: Lives alone
Grounds for divorce: continual money problems and, on account of that,
deterioration of the marriage; divorce by mutual wish of both parents
No joint custody
|When I'm big, I'll marry a rich man. He must not have a beard and much
money. I'll then be the lady and he the lord: and we'll have many servants; who'll
do everything for us. Because I don't want to be like my mother and do everything
myself. Therefore I'll need the servants; so that they'll look after all the stupid
stuff. My husband must always love me. He must do everything I want. And
he isn't even allowed to look at another woman. If he does that, I'll get
divorced. Then I'll get half of everything. And he'll get the aggravation.
14 years. Lives with his mother and her second husband
Father: Re-married. Lives with his new wife, her children, and their
common children from their second marriage
Grounds for divorce: extra-marital affair of the mother and her wish for
No joint custody
|I have a father and a mother and two biological sisters. In addition, I have
a grandma on the mother's side and a grandpa on the mother's side as well as a grandma on
the father's side. The grandpa on the father's side is dead already. Then I
still have a stepfather; that is, the husband of my mother; and a stepbrother, who
nevertheless doesn't live with us, but with his mother. I'm not related to this
woman. From my stepfather I have a step-grandma and a step-grandpa, three step-aunts
and two step-uncles with amongst them seven male step-cousins and one female
step-cousin. In addition I still have a half-sister of two years and a half-brother
of eight months, who both live with us and are the biological children of my stepfather
and my mother.
Because my real father married again too, I have his wife for a
stepmother: from her there must still be added a step-grandma and a step-grandpa.
And then, too, there are two stepbrothers from the first marriage of my stepmother, who
live together with her and my father and are older than I. My father and my
stepmother too have common children: they are my half-brother and my half-sisters, who
were born twins.
When I add all of that together, I have two fathers and two mothers,
four grandmas and three grandpas, two biological sisters, three stepbrothers; two
half-brothers; three half-sisters, three step-aunts, two step-uncles and eight
cousins. When I imagine that my mother or my father possibly become divorced again
and marry once more it's after all quite possible well, then that'll
be absolute chaos. It's not even possible for me to comprehend it all [the
relationships] anymore as it is. Most of all, because it all is supposed to be
family and have something to do with me. Nevertheless, I could really do without it.
Formerly I mean my father; my mother; my sisters and me
it was different. Somehow closer. More true. Now it is that my
sisters and I are something like the fifth wheel on the wagon. We belong to it all,
true: but the children; I mean the ones that are one hundred percent important, the ones
around which everything always turns, those that my mother has now with her new-one and
those that my father has with his new-one. They are the ones with which there is
something like a family. I mean, the core of one.
We others are only figures on the periphery. That's easy to
see for anyone. I've no illusions about that.
If you experience that all-day long, well, on yourself, so quite
normally, every day, you'll grasp it somewhere along the way.
If the three of us would say now, come on, we take off, then I don't
even believe that my parents would be truly sorry about that. Or that they would
miss us. Or that they would do everything to get us back. Well, anyway, maybe
they would mourn a little bit, that's only right. But it wouldn't be real. Not
so completely from inside.
So really in the heart or so, there are only the children; to which
father and mother who made them cling, and who didn't just come along into the new
Just recently I read in the paper that it was predicted that in the
year 2002 there'll only be families left like mine right now. That is, father with
child marries mother with child, and then they'll together make new children: I can
well imagine it.
But for me I'll be then about 20 and will think then that
I'll make it with a wife well, it irks me. All that isn't for me.
Therefore I'll most likely not marry and make no children.
Because the children, they'll in the end get the shitty end of the
stick. They completely don't know anymore where they actually belong. They
stray from one to the next and receive at each stop a few stroke-units, wherever anyone
feels the obligation at the moment. And that's that then. Then it would be
better if one wouldn't multiply at all and would enjoy everything by himself. There
are too many people in the world anyway. Why should I add to them by making new
Posted 1999 06 07
2001 02 08
2007 12 16 (reformated)