It was Monday night, my mate John and I are having a beer in The Orchard Park Hotel in Giffnock, our regular Monday night catch up after playing badminton.
It used to be football, 5-a-side, every Monday for the past 20 years, but that was before I did my ankle in and he got fat! 🙂
Of course, he blames it on the fags, which I’m sure are a contributory factor, particularly if you have ever heard a smoker first thing in the morning, but he’s fair put the weight on since they had the kids a few years ago.
Funny thing is, his wife looks better now than she did before. How does that work?
I get the beers in while he dilly-dallies outside sucking the last draw from his cigarette. It’s a regular habit, not the fag, the dilly-dallying outside the pub.
He lives locally, so he takes his car home and I drop him off later. A pretty good result for him as I’ll have one beer and he’ll have 3 .. so why does he always only get the middle round?
As if I haven’t noticed. He must notice too and its not like he can’t afford it.
But that’s mates, that’s what you do, you put up with their failings because at the end of the day, their overall contribution is bigger than all the parts.
We’ve done lots together, well separately, the full divorce thing within a few years of each other, both listened to the others ups and downs. Been there with an ear and a beer. A curry, a chat, a few laughs and some good advice. That’s what real mates do.
“So how did it go then?”
We had spoke about it previously, different possible scenarios, He had been asked what I would do if she asked me to meet her kids. Now that it had happened, he was keen to know if things went well.
“It was fine”. Fine .. a safe reply, meaningless and nondescript. Like the use of the word “nice” when you can’t thing of anything more descriptive to say. Tells you nothing really.
The reality was I had lots to say, some good and some bad. I just didn’t know if I was ready to say it, to give away personal thoughts in these early days when my mind might change but his would be forever tainted by second hand first impressions.
Do you like that? Second hand first impressions! 🙂
Just like old hand me downs, these second hand memories are never yours and even if you try to make the best of them you’ll always know they were damaged by someone else.
I wanted to get a few things off my mind, but at the same time, not taint anything in his head and leave a lasting image of an issue that might change with time and get better in mine but will be forever damaged in his mind.
“Fine? Is that it?” He knows me too well to know I’m not the one word answer kind of guy.
“Well to be honest, they’re not bad kids, brought up well, but they have been spoiled rotten”
“Is that not to be expected given the circumstances?”
“Well yes and no” I’d already explained her circumstances to him as the relationship had developed. I’d told him that she had made a rod for own back and that since they lost their dad she was overcompensating. Buying them too many things, expensive crap which after 5 minutes they left at their arse and ignored.
“Okay, so what happened? Was dinner okay?”
“Yeah, that was lovely, it was good to meet them and they were obviously warned to be on best behaviour. But it was after dinner that the problems started. I couldn’t believe how demanding they are off her and got to be honest they were extremely rude at times”
“Rude in what way, did they say anything to you?”
“No, not directly, just screaming and demanding her attention immediately, One small example was the eldest son walking into the room where we were sitting chatting and playing music loudly saying what do you think of this song.. And that was the 15 year old. Just plain rude”
“Did she do anything about that or say anything to them?”
“Well she said she liked it and that she would listen to it more later, But my kids would never have done that.” My kids weren’t angels, but they seriously would never have done that, Not sure why, maybe just more aware of the rules and that I wouldn’t have accepted that.
“Don’t you just think that they were trying to show off a bit because you were there?”
“I had thought about that, I’m sure that was the case with the wee one who was showing me his football trophies and asking if I wanted to play football with him in the garden”
“That’s sounds positive, did you give him a game?”
“Yeah, of course, I was on best behaviour too!” You can’t be one-sided on these things, you have to make the effort or else you’re not playing fair.
“Brilliant, bet he beat you” my mate laughed knowing how competitive I was.
“Yeah yeah, I let him win” No honest I did!
He got the beers in and went for a fag, I knew that she had been out running around on mum duties, taking the boys to football training and guitar lessons. I took the opportunity to sent her a text .. “Hi babe, hope you’ve had a good night, I’m in the pub with John, okay to call you later? x”
When he came back, we changed the subject, spoke about our own kids, how big his were getting and how my daughter was getting on at school.
Then the next concert we were going to, concerts or curries, our regular habit, sometimes both, although I’d give up the curry for the concert any day.
Then of course there was football, we are both Celtic supports, always have been, always will be. Life changes,, circumstances change, people come and go, but your team will always be your team.
What I didn’t tell him, was that I didn’t know how very demanding they were of her time.
I didn’t want to spoil things, leave some permanent damage of those hand me down memories.
The killer comment was when the eldest said that we spend too much time together.
Too much time? You mean one night out not even every weekend where she doesn’t always stay over and one night during the week were the chances of her staying over are even less.
What kind of relationship is that?
I understand the circumstances, I know she is on her own and relies on her mum for baby sitting and her mum can’t always be bothered, Having experienced the kids, I couldn’t always be bothered either!!
To be fair, it does kind of suit me, I have my daughter most of the week. I can’t exactly just disappear at the drop of a hat, but I can get out most nights and have weekends on my own.
I don’t mind only seeing her a few times per week. I don’t even mind if she goes home on the Friday night because she has things to do with the boys in the Saturday morning.
What I do mind is the boys casting up that we spend too much time together when I’m already making allowances for the fact that she is in her own with no one to share the load.
I’ve got the feeling that this is only going to get harder.
This is Part 16 of my fictional Online Dating story – For Part 1, click below.