All went well until Celeste, Marie's 13-year-old daughter, threw a spanner in the works. She objected to Doug not because he had once taught her geography, nor because Doug wanted to do the decent thing with a ring, but because Marie was causing her psychological distress by embarking on a discreet (discreet to the point of non-existence in Doug's opinion) sex life.
Young Celeste is very articulate when it comes to psychological issues. She has been seeing her own counsellor since Marie divorced and Marie is beginning to find it rather irksome shelling out for her daughter to hone resentment skills every fortnight under the direction of post-Freudian analyst, Ulker Hatchet.
"I've tried talking to Ulker," Marie laments. "But she says it would be unprfessional to disclose anything that Celeste is telling her."
It seems to me that with the advent of shrinks for kids we are on the horns of a new social dilemma. The doctor-patient relationship is sacrosanct but so is the parent-child relationship and here the two are on a collision course. Marie is ultimately responsible for Celeste's well-
being but, by employing Ulker, she has had to cede her responsibility to a woman she hardly knows, trusts and clearly dislikes.
Marie accepts Celeste needs someone impartial to talk to. "I just wish she could be impartial and on my side at the same time."
Meanwhile Doug, poor man, has become a teenage hate object. From our local middle school where he is the most popular of teachers, Doug motors round to Marie's house where he is greeted at the door by Celeste shouting "Mum, it's the Creep!" "At least if she was still at school with me I could insist she called me Mr Creep," he grumbles.
Love, I sometimes think, brings out the worst in everyone. To marry once is brave. Twice begins to look foolish.