“Can You Take Me to a Party?”

Here’s what I like to do on a Friday night. Most parents will tick these boxes…

Come in. Dump my notebook on the dining room table.

Walk smartly to the wine rack. Select a bottle of red wine. Open it. Let it breathe. Not for long, obviously.

On the off chance that I’m wearing anything formal – or tight – take it off.

…And spend the rest of the evening with my wife, eating something someone else has prepared (‘dine in for two for ten quid’ is just fine) and watching something mildly amusing that doesn’t tax what’s left of my brain: Blacklist, for example.

Here’s what I definitely don’t like to do:

Hear the words, “Can you take me to a party, Dad?”

Eight simple words. Which completely change a Friday night. Because you don’t take your beloved offspring – Ben in this case – to a party at 7:30 and then come home and revert to the list: drink wine, loosen clothing, wonder if wife secretly fancies James Spader…

Nope. Because – and really sorry about this if your angelic children are four and six and you’re still in dreamland – no party starts before ten o’clock.

Even later if table four carry on talking…

Ben finally rings me at 10:30. “They wouldn’t stop talking.”

“That’s how it is when you’re a waiter. Sometimes people like to talk.”

“Well why don’t people just finish their meal and go home to talk?”

I patiently explain the joys of lingering over a meal; carrying on the conversation; how the mood is broken once you leave the table…

He’s not listening. “Did you get me some beer?”

“Yep.”

“Not Grolsch. Please say you didn’t buy Grolsch.”

“Budweiser. You’re saved.”

My son dashes into the house, jettisons his black-trousers-black-shirt uniform. Jeans, rugby shirt, a quick visit to the bathroom – that smells suspiciously like my new after-shave, young man – a carrier bag full of Bud and we’re good to go.

“Where are we going?”

“Charlie’s.”

“Again? Have his parents moved out?”

But Charlie’s is fine. It may be too far away for a taxi, but at least I know where it is. I approve of Ben’s friends. They all know where they live.

Tom’s were an entirely different matter.

“Which is your house?” I asked having foolishly offered one of his mates a lift home.

“It’s along here somewhere…”

“OK. That’s narrowed it down.”

“I think we’ve got a blue door…” The young man in question is now training to be a doctor: that should give you some confidence.

But the parties were even worse. They all seemed to be held at the end of long country lanes. In places so inhospitable Macbeth’s witches would have turned them down. Where the friendly Irish guy on our satnav waved the white flag and said, ‘You’re on your own, pal.’

“Where the hell is it, Tom?”

“It’s along here somewhere…”

“Tom. Everywhere is ‘along here somewhere.’ It’s eleven o’clock. I’m cold, I’m tired and I’m fairly certain we just passed a werewolf. Ring Jake on your damn mobile.”

“I can’t get a signal.”

Finally we’d find it. And I’d start the long, lonely drive home. Still, at least I knew where it was now. Handy when I went back to collect him in the morning…

…Which brings us back to Ben.

What time do you want collecting? I texted.

10:30?

Great. Do you want a bacon sandwich when you come in?

Not sure.

‘Not sure’ translated as smelling strongly of alcohol, not having the energy to speak and going straight to bed as soon as he was through the front door.

So at least one of us enjoyed Friday night…

Comments

  1. Eek! The blue door and the doctor scared me even more than the werewolves!

  2. Ah, but then comes the life-changing day when he passes his driving test, your taxi duties suddenly come to an end, and you’re left lying awake at night wondering how you’re going to pay that monthly insurance premium, and whether, at this moment, he is hanging upside down in his seatbelt in a remote field somewhere with werewolves prowling nearby. #justsayin 🙂

    • First things first, Alastair. We live in North Yorkshire. Werewolves and vampires are just a normal part of growing up. We wear crucifixes to protect us against sushi bars… I’m actually lying awake at night worrying about how the eldest two will afford the deposit on a house. Selling a kidney (slightly used, copes well with red wine) seems the only logical solution. Hopefully there’ll be some change left over for the insurance premiums…

  3. I think my hubby would feel quite pleased to get away with such light taxi services! Since our youngest turned 18, gigs in town which finish at 10 or 11 have been extended to ‘out, out’ which means bars and clubs till 3 in the morning ….THEN a lift home is needed.

    • Thanks for the comment, Mary – and hope you enjoy the blog. Will look for your husband in next New Year’s Honours List! About 11/00 is my limit – any later and I’m happily handing over the taxi money. But yep, I know what you mean – all of a sudden Ben is living in a place called “out” and meeting his new best friend, “No-one Special…”

  4. moderatemum says:

    Brilliant! You sound like a wonderful taxi service, sorry dad. I once called my dad and told him to pick me up, conveniently forgetting to say where. My dad just assumed I was at my best friends house and turned up there to be greeted by her confused mother. This was pre mobile phone so he had to rely on my friends mums knowledge of our other friends addresses to find me, which he did! He didn’t even get angry, goodness knows where I’ll find patience like that.

    • Outstanding parenting – and patience – from your Dad! See the comment on Mary’s husband: another one for the Honours list. Personally I couldn’t manage without my kids’ mobile phones. I find saying, “Just phone the idiot and ask him if he knows where he lives” so therapeutic…

  5. “He is your dammed friend, how would I know where he lives?” This all sounds oh so familiar. 🙂 At least my beer’s safe for the moment – but I am baffled by the number of children who don’t know where they live 🙂

    • Clearly going to be a common theme – glad it’s not just my son’s friends! All my daughter’s pals knew exactly where they lived. Teenage boys just seem to assume that if they wander up and down a street long enough someone will take them by the hand, re-fuel them and lead them to an Xbox…

  6. ‘Love the post and as you say, ‘still have at least 5 years to go before we hear those famous words if we hear them at all, European children being very apt on their environmentally-friendly bikes and having über liberal parents which gives me a heart attack just thinking about it as beer is legal at 16, oh and beer isn’t even considered “a drink” in the eyes of your typical German! In fact, when I first came to live in Germany, beer was cheaper than coca cola…! I fear when the time comes, we’ll just be used as an already paid-up supermarket, with quality goods. “I’ll take that delicious wine you got from Tuscany as well as the nutty French cheese!”

    “Which is your house?” I asked having foolishly offered one of his mates a lift home.

    “It’s along here somewhere…” Classic!

    • Stop worrying! Mine have never even considered taking food to a party, so your best cheese is safe… Can’t say the same for the wine though. Tom is now very sniffy unless I offer something he deems worthy. Woe betide if I don’t have dessert wine for the Xmas pud! And I can still remember it: driving along a country lane in the dark – obviously it was pouring down as well – while Tom’s pal desperately tried to work out where he lived. Too many lifts in cars, obviously…

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