We have a couple coming for “drinks” and there is an unspoken panic in the Conmy household. Panic, because our joint recollection is that these particular people, people we’ve not seen for nearly 3 years, are quite “trendy”.
Look, I know I’m not very trendy. As I write this I am wearing grey “tracky bot bots” and a 6 year old lumberjack shirt which, thanks to my daughter, has dried snot epaulettes. Aside from the crunchy shoulders, it’s very comfortable. I choose comfort over trendy these days. In fact “trendy” probably isn’t even the right word anymore, that’s how untrendy I am.
(Given the standard evolution of words with historically negative connotations being used in a positive way to alienate preceding generations (see 80’s – Bad, 90’s – Wicked, 00’s – Sick) the modern vernacular in 2013 is probably “HIV positive” or something. This couple are totally HIV. Or at least they were 3 years ago. They’re probably full blown AIDS by now – way out of our league.)
My wife and I are pretending to be unflustered by this visit but sometimes the telepathy of marriage can be a drawback. We both know we can’t make the house appear as immaculate as it used to, nor can we eradicate the children’s impact on our world. But that doesn’t stop us from trying. So as soon as the little darlings are asleep – we begin.
Much later and magazines lay fanned (FANNED!!!) across the coffee table in mock nonchalance. Fresh flowers stand, poised, in the downstairs toilet, ready to say “Ta DA!” when the door is opened. There is a potty hidden away in the cupboard underneath the stairs. Like Anne Frank.
Eventually we think we are ready but upon second inspection we remove the toilet flowers because it seemed like we were “trying”. After two hours of preparing the house, the last thing we wanted is to look like we were trying. So we put them in the bin. IN THE BIN!
I enjoy a brief fantasy where our guests open the bin and say
“Wow, you have bin flowers?”
and I say
“Doesn’t everybody darling?” and laugh in their well moisturised faces.
Back to reality and I have taken everything we might need for the evening out of the utility room. I don’t want “trendies” to see our utility room. These days the utility room is a store cupboard for things other people throw away. That’s where we now keep all the children’s “craft” stuff. They must not see this room. I don’t want to be remembered as the man with the extensive toilet roll collection. I will keep the door locked and tell them that’s where we keep all our “old” Stella McCartney. And then laugh in their well moisturised faces.
I have done other things in the house that I would never normally do: I put the pestle and mortar back on the kitchen worktop and set the time on the microwave. The pestle and mortar looks ridiculous empty so I sprinkle same raisins into it and re-evaluate.
What the hell am I doing?
I pour the raisins away into the bin. If they ask why I have a layer of dried fruit at the top of the bin I shall say it’s the latest thing and laugh in their well moisturised faces.
I have pre-prepared ice cubes. I will pretend that this is perfectly normal. I don’t want them to know that on a normal day I just chisel off a bit of freezer snow and add it to drinks. Don’t laugh – it’s great with Baileys. Not that I ever drink Baileys you understand. Scotch, that’s what I meant, very manly Scotch Whiskey. The expensive kind that tastes of earwax. That.
At last we have finished and fashionably late they knock on the door.
“How do I look?” I ask my wife
She looks me up and down and says
“Are you wearing a brooch?”
“Is that a brooch you’re wearing?”
“A brooch? No of course I’m not wearing a brooch! I don’t own a brooch!”
I look down and see a circle of phlegm on my chest. My daughter’s work if I’m not mistaken. Too late to change now.
I fling open the door and smile “Hi guys! Come on in”.
They are as well moisturised as I remember.
“So good to see you!” he says” Hey cool brooch!”
“Thanks” I say “My daughter made it……”