Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Cougar Christmas with the toyboy - and his family

So, Christmas with my toyboy, Ad Man, has come and gone, in a flurry of snow, champagne, pressies – and a sprinkling of awkward moments..
While the Cougar spent much of the build up to the festive season rushing to meet work deadlines, buying presents, cleaning the house and dealing ineffectively with my builders who were attempting to beat the world record for the slowest bathroom makeover in history, Ad Man’s hectic work schedule seemed to consist entirely of perusing Ebay for guitar accessories or going to the pub with various work colleagues for some Christmas cheer.
And so it came to pass that, when we finally turned up on his parents' doorstep somewhere on the edge of Wales, I was no doubt looking more old and haggard than they were even expecting, while Ad Man was in exuberant form.
As a teenager I was never much good at staying at boyfriends’ parents houses. Said boyfriend would inevitably have high expectations of the fact that we were finally spending a night together under the same roof, even if the only thing separating us from his parents and various siblings was a few millimitres of plasterboard with as much sound proofing as a negligee. I on the other hand, would have absolutely no intention of doing anything that would make me unable to look his mother in the eye as I passed her the toast the following morning.
And, so within minutes of crossing the threshold of Ad Man’s family home, all the same insecurities and questions unexpectedly flooded back once again. Where would I be sleeping? Where would he be sleeping? And would he be expecting me to cross the landing quietly in the middle of the night for an illicit, whispering fumble under his Arsenal duvet cover? I didn’t have to wait long for the answer. As we headed inside, he only had to run a finger suggestively down the length of my spine for me to get the message loud and clear.
But it soon also became clear that his very Christian parents had been anxiously pondering exactly the same points. And, even more interestingly, I suddenly realised that, of course, for them, it was an even more awkward scenario. Whereas, when dealing with a couple of teenagers, they would have been well within their right to lay down the law and read the riot act (or any other such clichés of parental behaviour) if they suspected anything they might not approve of was happening under their own roof – when faced with a ‘girlfriend’ who was not only in her 40s, but only 14 years younger than them, it was a whole other conundrum.
Ad Man’s parents had clearly surmised that the best approach was to put us in single beds (a double would have obviously been sending completely the wrong message) but single beds in the same room, thus eliminating any awkward night-time encounters in the corridor. And so it was that we were shown into the primrose twin room, with its towels laid out neatly on both beds, and tea-making facilities in the corner. But, just in case Ad Man and I still harboured intentions of sharing anything more than a cup of Earl Grey, his father felt the need to take me to one side.
“The walls in these houses are very thin, you know” he proffered. I laughed, and tried not to squirm too visibly. Ok, I thought, point made. But still he kept going.. “They’re only plasterboard, the sound goes right through them,” he emphasised once more, in case I hadn’t quite grasped it the first time. I smiled yet again and tried to shape an expression that said, “Yes, I understand what you’re saying, but of course that sort of funny business was never on the cards anyway as far as I’m concerned..” I’m not sure I succeeded.
Meanwhile, downstairs, presents were already being distributed and Ad Man was whooping as he unveiled a new amp for his bass guitar. Within minutes he and his brother were happily jamming together in the front room, recalling all their old favourites from the Police to Led Zep, while I, the parents, and even Grandma tapped our feet appreciatively. All was very festive and cheery, then his brother began the opening chords of a familiar tune.. ‘Here’s one for Emma,” he smiled. “Ah, what is it?” asked Grandma.
But I didn’t wait to hear the answer, I already knew. I’d reached the stairs before I heard them launch into the chorus. “Here’s to you Mrs Robinson…“ Excellent. Time for a cup of Earl Grey, I thought. Upstairs. By myself. His parents would have nothing to worry about tonight.

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