Wednesday 21 August 2019

A break with tradition over tea and cakes at new house

Embarrassment is not a word that could adequately cover what happened to me at the weekend. Shame, misfortune, ignominy, indignity and mortification are among the other words that could be added to the sentence to ensure you're getting the picture of my feelings in the aftermath of an incident that is only my fault and, for once, not the Weeins'.

A professional acquaintance of mine had, with his wife, moved to Dundalk from Dublin at the end of last year. I had been speaking to him a couple of times since then, where he had asked, as polite people do, for me to come over with the kids and husband 'sometime'. The kids and I are not the type of people you want landing on you unannounced and while I have been known to rock up to houses of people I know very well without warning, I definitely didn't know this lovely couple well enough to just arrive without warning.

But what did arrive without warning on Saturday was a text from the man asking if we were available to come for tea and cakes at 3pm. I took a look around and saw the Wee Lad jumping up and down, roaring at the Wii, covered in crumbs from his ham sandwich with the arse literally hanging out of his trousers, while upstairs, the Big Lad was a bit more presentable but also engrossed in a computer game.

I also looked at the Leaning Tower of Pisa-style stack of ironing and the un-hoovered floor before looking at my make-up free face, complete with 'I'm going to wash it tomorrow' hair in a pony-tail and I said to myself: 'Sure if we don't go now, we won't get asked again'. So I said yes, we would be there within the half hour. But before we headed off, I put the two Lads into the kitchen and told them in no uncertain terms that: 'Youse have to be good here. These people aren't yahoos, they are nice gentle people. Don't touch anything, don't ask for anything, eat whatever you are given, don't complain and don't say you don't like something. And Mamo is relying on you not to let her down and no messing or I will be super-cross when you get home'.

Anyway, we were made feel very welcome by our new friends, with the Lads running straight at them and hugging them. They were delighted to see a table with mineral and cake and tea and wasted no time beating it all into them, the Wee Lad's chocolate covered fingers getting dangerously close a couple of times to the white curtains. Things were going well, but, and I ate a couple of slices of delicious cake as the couple cooed over the Wee Lad's funny sayings and gestures.

But a tidal wave of shame was about to hit me and as I moved myself in the chair, to cross one over the other, it, without warning, gave way and I ended up on the tiled floor with everyone looking at me. The embarrassment tsunami walloped me and I was soon up, dusting myself down and telling everyone I was fine. The couple were also embarrassed and tried to blame the 'poor' quality of the furniture. The quality was fine - no-one else's chair broke. And if I hadn't been beating the cake into me at a rate of knots, it probably wouldn't have happened. You can blame the shops for making sizes smaller, you can blame the washing machine for shrinking the jeans, but there is no-one to blame but yourself when you're breaking nice people's furniture.

Irish Independent