Anyone who knows me will tell you that my son and I are very close, and he will always come first. Anyone considering friendship or something more with me is informed of this early on. While I don't define myself by my role as a mother, I do adore my child and put him into consideration with every major decision I make, including inviting a man into our lives. My mother was always very careful about choosing the kinds of men she dated, and was quick to send them packing if it looked like they were having difficulty understanding the mother-child dynamic. Arthur was your typical Aussie alpha male; loud, jolly, and always quick with a dirty joke after seven or eight beers. His bombastic nature took me back a little, seeing as I was only five at the time, but he made my mum happy, and that was the important thing. It didn't hurt that he had a ten year old son who I thought was the best thing to come along since Ernie first captivated me with his crazy Muppet laugh on Sesame Street. Because my parents divorced when I was three, the only males I had had any interaction with up to that point were my uncles, and they were cool. Jokes, trips to the movies and the beach, and days out with my cousins were the highlight of my holidays, and Uncle Ken and Uncle Simon were the standard by which I judged all men. Unfortunately, for Mum and for me, Arthur did not meet this standard.
I soon came to realise, young as I was, that drunk Arthur and sober Arthur were two different people. Drunk Arthur was funny. Sober Arthur was as mean as a rabid junkyard dog with it's foot caught in a bear trap. Patience was not a virtue to which Arthur subscribed, and what seemed to particularly incense him was my lack of coordination. On a day at the beach, I noticed the contemptuous snarl on his face when I stumbled along in the wet sand. I picked up on his resentful tone when he and my mum were discussing my sleeping habits. Mum somehow missed these and dozens of other hints as to his ill will towards me, but it was before a Sunday drive that she got an eye full of the real Arthur Fitz. I was sitting in the back of Arthur's car and we were all ready to go when Mum realised she had forgotten something. For my five year old self, fastening a seat belt was the equivalent of solving a five hundred piece jigsaw puzzle, so Mum was always the one to make sure I was safely strapped in before we went anywhere. On this particular day, for some reason, I decided to give it a crack. I fumbled around for ages trying to get the clip to fit inside the slot, my cheeks burning with the effort. The clinking and scraping of metal on metal must have irritated Arthur's detoxifying brain more than anything else I had ever inadvertently done, because it was at that moment that I really bore the brunt of his angry arseholery.
'Clip the bloody thing in properly!' He bellowed. I shrunk back into my seat, trembling hands still clinging to the seat belt. Then Arthur looked out the window, and his expression changed. Mum had seen everything. Needless to say, we did not partake in an afternoon drive that Sunday, and my mum refused to take Arthur's phone calls from then on. The memory of Arthur Fitz and his allergy to me is one of the things that has shaped my approach to dating as a single mother. Adolescent mood swings, selective deafness and all, G is the sun around which I revolve, and until such time as I become utterly unnecessary and uncool to him, any other planetary bodies wishing to occupy the same solar system as me will need to keep that in mind.