Hot Mess

My friend Jane invited a bunch of us round for a house-warming supper;  she’d just moved out of her parents’ place and into her own flat, and was ever so excited about it.

She scooped us all a generous serving of dinner: some sort of brown splodge and rice.

As we hungrily raised our forks, Jane thanked us for joining her: “…and I know you won’t believe it, but this is the first time I’ve ever cooked! Bon Appetit!!”

Oh.

The rice wasn’t just undercooked, it was still raw. And I’ve still no idea what the brown splodge was actually supposed to be (tumours au gratin? braised dysentery? hot misery?)

Whatever it was, it remains the second-worst meal that I have ever eaten.*

We exchanged panicked glances over our heaped bowls. Jane beamed at us: “Are you enjoying it?”

She was one of life’s genuine sweethearts, a thoroughly lovely person. It would have been like kicking a puppy. “It’s delicious!”, we enthusiastically lied in unison.

Being a well-brought up type, I forced down every last horrifically crunchy mouthful. My friend Matthew later confessed to having tipped his bowlful into a pot-plant.

We all declined seconds. “I’m so full, I couldn’t eat another mouthful!” Well, half of that sentence was true.

I didn’t even let her make me a cup of tea after that

*There’s a chance that the creator of the third-worst meal that I’ve ever eaten will see anything I write about it, so I won’t be telling you about that one. But at some point I will tell you about the worst-ever meal that I’ve ever eaten. Because I made that one. (I’m usually a pretty good chef, honest.)

Goodbye, Steve

Me: “Hello?”

Steve: “Hello, it’s Steve from Scottish Power
here. I understand you’re thinking of leaving us for another utility company because they’ve offered you a better price?”

Me: “I’m not thinking, I’ve already switched. And it’s nothing to do with price, it’s because your customer service has been terrible.”

Steve: “But the price must have had something to do with it?”

Me: “Really, no. I’ve had a number of problems with my account since I’ve been with you, and the people at customer service have been friendly enough, but totally incompetent with it.”

Steve: “Can you give me a few more details please?”

Me: [there follows 10 minutes of me detailing numerous incidents where Scottish Power have totally failed to sort out problems]

Steve: “Fair enough, I totally get why you’d want to leave us. But, if I offered you a really good deal on your fuel, would you consider staying?”

Me: “No.”

Steve: “A really really good deal?”

Me: “Seriously, this isn’t about the money. It’s about the customer service.”

Steve: “Is there anything I can do to make you reconsider your decision to leave?”

Me: “No. There really isn’t.”

Steve: “But it’s my job to stop you leaving.”

Me: “Steve, I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s your company’s customer service.”

He said he understood, and we hung up. But still, I hope Steve is OK. I hope he goes on to find other customers (and that they get treated better than I did). I hope he learns to love again, or whatever.

“I have to touch your bump”

I was so pregnant that I waddled. Everything ached. Although exhausted, I was still looking forward to supper with friends.

As I reached the restaurant, a man stopped me. He was lounging against the wall; later, I realised that he was probably too drunk to stand up straight.

“You’re pregnant!”, he slurred.
“Yes. I’m pregnant.”

I tried to walk past him, but he grabbed my wrist and started telling me how he’d never wanted kids, that he’d make a terrible father, that he wished he’d loved someone enough to have children with them, that he always wanted to have a son; the sentences clashing, contradicting and bumping against each other. He talked and talked at me, while I thought of my friends sat inside, and wondered how to get myself free. He held my wrist, talking and talking.

I suffer from extreme politeness. I stood there and nodded, horribly aware that in being polite to this man, I was being rude to my friends as the time got later and later. And then:

“I have to touch your bump.”

Now, I’m not comfortable being touched at the best of times. My skin is quite sensitive and it can be rather overwhelming. And when it’s someone I don’t know, I get really uncomfortable.

“Really? Do you have to?”
“Yes. Let me touch your bump and then you can go.”

Today Me is typing this with shame and anger. Today Me wants to go back in time to that moment and shout at the guy, leave her alone, let her go. I wish I’d handled it differently. But I didn’t, I muttered, “OK”. I was desperate to go and it seemed like a decent trade-off.

He let go of my wrist, but grabbed my top and started trying to put his other hand up inside it.

Enough polite. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

“I want to touch your bump.”
“OVER MY CLOTHES.”
“No. It has to be your bare skin or it doesn’t count.”
“NO. I NEED TO GO NOW.”

I forcibly removed his hand from my top.

“Fine. But take my email address. You need to tell me when you have the baby what sex it is. But don’t bother telling me if it’s a girl. I only want to hear if it’s a boy.”

I waited, furious, humiliated, hot-cheeked, while he scribbled down an address on a scrap of paper and handed it to me.

I joined my friends at the table, apologised for being late, and waited to stop shaking.

Anyway. I had a girl. I didn’t email him.

THE WINNING LINES: Tales from my dating days #7

We’d been seeing each other for a while. One morning I awoke to find two texts from him.

The first was sent the previous night: “Just to tell you how beautiful you are, and how much I love you.”

I was thrilled to read it.

Then I read the second text, which had been sent a few hours after the first:

“I sometimes send texts in my sleep. If you’ve received any other texts from me in the last 12 hours, you should ignore them, I didn’t mean anything I said.”

I was no longer thrilled.

BLOODY PARENTING ANECDOTES #832: Thanks, sweetheart

My Middle Daughter came running up to me and gave me a massive hug.

MD: “I love you mummy.”

Me: “I love you too sweetheart.”

MD: “I’ll leave flowers on your grave every day when you die.”

Me: “……… thanks, sweetheart.”

This is far from the only time my children have said this sort of thing to me. Does anyone else’s kids do this, or are mine just unusually sinister?

No Boundaries

I’d left my worldly possessions with my new landlady. It was a pretty big move; I was also changing jobs and cities. I’d finished my contract on the Friday, and schlepped my belongings the 170 miles to my new home the same day. There wasn’t time to unpack, only to unload the car before collapsing into bed. The next morning, an early flight for a quick holiday inbetween jobs.

When I returned home, my new landlady greeted me. She looked particularly pleased with herself: “I saw you hadn’t had time to sort through your things, so I thought I’d make you feel at home!”

She’d been through my boxes—through every single thing I owned—and taken it upon herself to unpack my belongings.

Every single thing I owned.

It’s one thing when someone takes it upon themselves to unbox your CDs and books and pop them on a shelf for you.

It’s another thing entirely when someone you’ve only met once previously has gone through your knickers, your bras and even your tampons, and arranged them for you.

She was so thrilled, with what she saw as a really kind act, that I couldn’t bear to tell her I was actually pretty upset by the whole thing.

I wound up moving out a week later, but that was for completely different reasons. I’ll tell you why another time.

All Along the Watchtower

*ding dong*

I opened the door to find two nice ladies smiling at me.

Lady 1: “Hello! Isn’t it a lovely day?”

Me: “Sure is! Have you come to sell me some religion?”

Lady 2: “Well, we were in your neighbourhood and yes, we’re spreading the good news.”

Me: “Sounds lovely, but I’m fine for religion, thank you.”

Lady 1: “We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses and we want to share our joy.”

Me: “How wonderful for you! I’m Jewish and I’m also full of joy.”

Lady 1: “Would you like one of our leaflets?”

Me: “Sure, I’d be more than happy to learn about your religion, if you’re prepared to learn about Judaism.”

Lady 2: “Errrm, not really.”

Me: “Well, if you want me to keep an open mind about your religion then you need to the same with everyone else’s. Have a wonderful day!”

Tents Nervous Headache

When the kids were smaller, we’d go to Camp Bestival every year. One night, I was startled awake by shouting. It was 4am. It transpired that a group of revellers had returned to their respective tents, and were shouting their conversations between them.

I laid awake for a while, listening to them yell about who fancied whom, what a bitch so-and-so was, and I wondered what to do next. I figured that we were at a festival, everyone was there to have fun, I should ignore it and try and sleep. But, having said that, it was 4am, they were so loud it was impossible to ignore them and go back to sleep, and it was disturbing my kids.

I struggled out of my sleeping bag, into my wellies and over to one of the tents. I blinked hello at the young man and woman sat there, somewhere in their early 20s, and tried to find my best “cool mum” phrasing.

“Hey, I know you guys are having a lot of fun. But it’s pretty late now and you’re waking me and my kids up. We’re only in the tent behind you. Perhaps could you keep it down, and in return, I’ll stop the kids making too much noise in the morning when you’re sleeping it off?”

“Oh! I’m so sorry!”, replied the woman politely.
“Yes, sorry about that”, her friend joined in.

I thanked them, staggered back to my tent and into sleep.

We had a busy day on the site the next day, enjoying bands and relaxing in the sunshine. In the evening, we returned to our tent to find that someone had let it down.

Surely they hadn’t…? But that would be so petty… perhaps it was just a co-incidence? I managed to put the tent back up, and we went to sleep.

At 4am, I awoken again by the revellers returning to the field. That time, I got to hear them shouting about how they’d “taught the fat bitch a lesson by letting down her tent”. The young woman who’d apologised earlier was busy doing impressions of me: “Yeah, she was all ‘WHY ARE YOU HAVING FUN? WE’RE AT A FESTIVAL, YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE MISERABLE!'”

I listened to them cackling and shrieking about me for a while, wondering what to do. I did contemplate going back and talking to them again, but decided I’d probably be better off sticking my headphones in and listening to anything else.

I’m never usually one for revenge, and I’d like to be able to tell you that I rose above it, that I was the better person, that I didn’t let it get to me. Instead, angry and sleep-deprived the next morning, I emptied the girls’ potty onto the doormats outside their tents. If you happen to be reading this, loud festival go-ers, I’m sorry. x

BLOODY PARENTING ANECDOTES #93: Games

The Smallest Daughter bounced up to me.

“Mummy, can we play I Spy?”
“Sure.”
“You go first, Mummy!”
“OK. I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with…”
“POO POO!” *chortles*
“Ha, very silly. Right, I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with…”
“POO POO!” *hee hee hee*
“Enough now. I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with…”
“POO POO!” *guffaw*
“Sweetheart, we can’t play I Spy if you’re just going to bellow ‘Poo poo’ every time I start talking”.
“OK mummy, I won’t do it again.”
“Thanks. I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with…”
“WEE WEE!” *nearly expires with laughter*

That’s my girl…