Sunday, 27 February 2011

Parents, Parties and Predicaments

Since so many of you enjoyed the 'King Justice' part of yesterday's post, I thought I'd write a little something about my family. Trust me when I say I have a veritable comedy goldmine in the form of my mum, who really only needs to be awake to produce some truly hilarious sentences, although the chances are massively improved when she is sleepy or drunk. My dad says this is why he married her. If I showed you the wedding photos, however, you might wonder why she married him, because he had a ginger afro, a ginger moustache and looked like one of the 118 men. For those international readers who won't know what that refers to, look at this  Yes. That's right. Sexy, isn't it? Still, it was the 80s. It was acceptable at the time.

My mum has very little mental filter. Anything she thinks in her head is invariably repeated, like an echo, out of her mouth. If you watch closely you can see her little brain cogs whirring and grinding together, and then you only have a matter of moments to interrupt the conversation or change the topic before she says something truly embarrassing. Whereas most people have boundaries to their conversations - or at least have an inner voice that tells them 'this is probably a good time to stop talking' - my mum does not possess such a thing. Over the years, her family and friends have learned that as a rule, it's much more interesting and amusing to allow her to do this rather than trying to interfere. I seem to have inherited this trait although it is not fully-fledged - it appears to get stronger with age. However I don't believe that, even if I live to be 100, I could ever surpass my mum as a magnet for these types of situations. If it had a name, she'd be the queen of it.

Let me illustrate with an example. My parents had decided to move house a few years back, into a small village only a mile or so away from the small town I grew up in. My mum, who is a very small, chatty, blonde hurricane, had spotted a neighbour lady hanging out her washing in the garden of the house opposite. She decided this would be a perfect opportunity to ingratiate herself with the locals and perhaps make a new friend. I want to confirm now that this story is completely true. I actually could not have made it up. It is not possible to pretend or fantasize this level of insanity and mortification.

My mum headed across the road and introduced herself. Before long, she and the neighbour lady were chatting away when the conversation turned rather gossipy.

Lady: And that man, in the house on that side, he cheated on his wife!

Mum: Ooh!

Lady: (conspiratorially) And the man living next to you... well, he's very nice, but he's a homosexual and sometimes he has (and here she mouthed a word to my mum)

My mum was puzzled. She wondered why the lady was mouthing a word rather than saying it. She couldn't quite make it out, but thought that it had looked a bit like 'parties'. What was so wrong about parties, my mum  mused, that this lady would disapprove so much? Maybe she wasn't keen on noise or disturbance? My mum, instead of asking like a normal person for clarification, clung to her conclusion like a drowning man to a log.

Mum: (brightly) Well, I don't mind that. As long as he invites me in as well!

The woman's face changed, very slowly, from an expression of friendliness, to sheer confusion and more a little horror. My mum realised, with the sinking feeling she must be very used to by now, that the conclusion she'd arrived at must have been dead wrong. Not parties then. It dawned on my mum, with all the immediacy of a bullet to the head, that the word the lady had mouthed was in fact 'partner'.

Mum: Sorry, .

Lady: (backing away) Um, I'm quite busy, doing, something, so...see you around...

The lady fled, and rightly so, back to the safety of her house. My mum turned sadly and walked straight back into her new house. My dad was unpacking boxes in the living room, humming happily to himself.

Mum: We need to move again.

Dad: What? We just got here!

Mum: I know, but I sort of accidentally told that lady that I wanted to have a threesome with our gay neighbour and his boyfriend.


That's my family. And I'm a product of that environment, which is a fairly frightening thought. Maybe some day, one of my future-children will roll their eyes at something stupid I've done and blog about it. I can only dream.

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