Werner & Gertie

Todays assignment: In-laws

Over the years there have been quite a few men in my life. I was married to two of them, lived together with a few others and then there were some, who were just boyfriends.

As a consequence I’ve had many in-laws in my life.

Most of them were nice and decent people and I also had a few whom I never met, but if I have to tell you about any of them, it must be my very first in-laws.

I was young, only 17, when I met them first and they were very different from everybody else I knew.

They weren’t old of age but had been married for about 30 years and both their children were grown-ups and had moved away long ago.

My father in law, Werner, had been a painter, not the artistic kind, but the kind who paints buildings, and he had had his own company.

When my fiancé and his sister were children Werner had been a real piece of work.

Back then people didn’t know any better, but I guess that it was the fumes from the paint that gave him painters syndrome, so maybe it wasn’t his fault all of it, but back then he had gotten his headaches, where his children and wife had to tip toe around the house and stay away from him not to be hit.

He liked hitting others and especially my fiancé had been the target of his anger many times over.

When I met them, they still lived in the same house as they had always done. It was nothing special, to say the least; an old house with a tin roof, a living room, a bedroom and a kitchen.

My fiancés mother kept it clean, but it looked scabby and run down.

My in-laws had always used the bedroom themselves and the kids had their bedroom over the workshop, directly under the tin roof, and it had been icy cold in winter and unbearable hot in summer.

Some years before I met them, my father in law had shut down his company and had begun working in a department store in a nearby city, where he had become a supervisor, and he liked being the boss.

What can I say about my mother in law Gertie? She was stupid. You know the kind of people who keep on talking with a loud pitchy voice, without anybody listening and without ever saying anything the least interesting? That was her. And she worked at a big industrial slaughterhouse, cutting up the animals, which I thought was disgusting.

I don’t know, maybe I was bias, knowing that she had just let her husband hit her children and herself. I would not allow anybody to hit me and I would certainly never ever let anybody hit my children.

Werner and Gertie were a strange couple and to me as an outsider their relationship seemed unpleasant. Whenever he said something to her it was meant to hurt. He talked about her looks and compared her flaws with the good looks of other women; her hair, her figure, her face, even her toe nails, but she never seemed to mind. She just kept on talking about what ever went through her mind.

My fiancé and I didn’t go to see his parents often. For him it always brought back some very unpleasant childhood memories and in a strange and unpleasant way it always felt like going to the zoo for me.

Without knowing it they showed me what it was I under no circumstances wanted in a relationship.


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