“Louise, don’t send me anymore of those vile penis memes!” I say rather too loudly down the phone as I bustle down the street with half a McChicken sandwich hanging out of my mouth, phone in one hand and dragging my four-year-old along with the other for his playdate.
Louise has sent me five very questionable WhatsApps this morning; all male genitalia related, the last of which kept mooing like a cow.
I have agreed to a playdate with Karen, and as we arrive (late, obviously) she is already there with her son looking all zen like, not a hair out of place—jammy cow.
Karen is a pain in the arse by biblical proportions. She only eats organic, vegan, fair trade, ethical, no plastic packaging food so lunch dates are a nightmare. We only ever come to one place that caters for such Karen-ish needs, which is the super trendy Serendipity café that charges ten quid for a vegan banana muffin for fuck sake. I mean, unless they contain the distilled elixir of unicorn tears (which I’m pretty sure they don’t) then they are what I’d call an absolute piss take.
The dreadlocked, patchouli scented soap dodgers don’t seem to mind paying the total con! Then there’s me, smelling of Charlie Red and febreeze, I am a pizza eating (with real cheese—and pepperoni) single mum type person that could buy two half decent bottles of non-vegan, non-organic wine for ten quid and get full-price shitfaced.
I am on a playdate with Karen because I do not know how to say ‘No’.
It’s like some sort of disorder I have that has got me into some quite frankly, ridiculous situations. I think I’m going to say the word ‘No’ but it comes out as ‘Yes’.
Note to self: Learn how to say ‘No’—like, seriously Jen, it’s becoming a problem.
It’s like the time I agreed to make fifty cupcakes for the school bake sale. I meant to reply to Mrs Peabody ‘oh, thank you for thinking of me for the job, unfortunately I cannot oblige on this occasion.’ What I actually said was ‘Yes, no problem.’ (and no, I can’t say Peabody without imagining her as a giant pea with arms and legs and a pair of sensible shoes on her little pea feet.)
Turns out it WAS a problem when I turned up with forty-six (close enough—three got stuck to the cake tin and the Mrs Tinkles the cat licked one) salted red velvet cupcakes. I don’t mean salted as in the contrast of salt and caramel—I mean I mistook the salt for the sugar resulting in rather unusual tasting cupcakes. Unusual is downplaying it a bit, they were actual shite.
Salt and sugar are both white granules for Aunt Bessie’s sake, who invented them to resemble each other like that? I‘m sure I’m not the only person who has mixed them up. They ought to have been grateful they weren’t crammed full of speed! (not that I keep pots of speed around the house or anything.)
Anyway, they never asked me to do another one after that—snobs.
So, my son Jack, and Karen’s son Keanu-Rainbow (I know!) are playing in the designated play area while we are having civilised ‘mum’ coffee (well, I’m having coffee, Karen is having something green in a cup). I have been bored shitless for the last fifteen minutes listening to Karen’s step by step instructions on her new steam cleaner, and how I really ought to get one because I’ve got a cat and my carpets are probably filthy even if they might not look like it.
I am actually so bored I am imagining what the inside of my skull looks like, but that’s not very interesting either.
I feel like telling Karen to pop some lube on and stick her steam cleaner up her active-wear clad arse. But I don’t, because today I am in civilised mum-type mode (Using the definition of civilised extremely loosely here).
God, I hate ‘mummy’ talk. I have just heard about how Keanu-Rainbow (yes, you are required to use his full name EVERYTIME) saved a squirrel by giving it CPR from watching a first-aid edition of Mr. Tumble.
Karen picks up her cup and analyses it, narrowing her eyes and turning the corners of her mouth down at the edges. I know what’s coming.
“Waitress.” She clicks her fingers. “I don’t think this cup is quite clean, could I have another, thank you so much.” She hands it to the poor girl without even waiting for an answer. She does this every time without fail, and every time I want to smoosh her kale whip latte on to her nose, but I don’t, because again (civilised mum thing—trying reeeaaalllyyyy hard this time).
“Oooh did I tell you my David has built us a yurt using surplus wood from trees that have only fallen naturally—and he did it all in three days.”
Of course he has, because his carpentry skills are apparently only second to that of Jesus!
Last time I met Karen, she filled me in on how ‘her David’ carved part of the Sistine chapel into their headboard, whittling the wood with only a vegetable peeler. I suspect that is the most action their headboard has seen for some time—her David is quite obviously homosexual, in the sense that he makes boy George look like he has a subtle sense of style. I have always assumed Karen knows this about her husband and considers it some sort of Bohemian trendy living arrangement.
My biggest achievement of the week is cleaning out the microwave from all the exploded food—but I keep that to myself—it doesn’t quite match up to the yurt. Karen certainly would not approve of Jack’s non-ethically sourced mac’n’cheese suppers! Her meals mainly consist of deconstructed vegetables that have been lulled from the bush by the sound of whale song and steamed with purified water from Norwegian fjords.
(I like a Gregg’s sausage roll myself. You know where you stand with a Gregg’s sausage roll.)
“Did he, that sounds super.” I try to enthuse about David and his bloody yurt. “Actually, I’ve met a bit of a catch myself. He’s building me a….a….wine cellar!” I lie. I’m not sure why I’m lying, I think it’s that disorder again where I can’t say ‘No’. I also can’t tell the truth apparently.
“A wine cellar? Don’t you live in a flat?” Karen questions.
“Yes. We are…extending.” (good thinking on your feet skills, Jen—I mentally high five myself).
“Extending downwards?” Karen looks confused. Fuck. She’s sussing me out.
“Mmmm Hmmm” I say, slurping some of my coffee made with almond milk which tastes bloody foul to be honest. I hope she doesn’t ask me any more questions about my fake extension.
The waitress brings a fresh cup and hands it to Karen, she eyes is suspiciously and looks up to the waitress, stating that it will do. I mouth ‘sorry’ to the waitress. Karen is an actual nob.
“What’s his name?”
“Yes, your new partner?”
“Oh, yes. His name is…”
Don’t say anything stupid Jen, just think of a normal average Joe name, Like, well...Joe. Any normal boy’s name will do.
“Wesley Snipes.” I blurt out.
What? You’ve surpassed yourself this time you absolute arse of a woman!
Karen looks at me suspiciously.
“Your boyfriend’s name is Wesley Snipes?” She interrogates.
“Um, yes. Obviously not the Wesley Snipes, that would be ridiculous ha ha ha.” I frown inwardly and wave at Jack through the playcentre glass. “Wesley Snipes volunteers at a soup kitchen twice a week, and mentors a young boy without a dad, that is when he’s not training dolphins.”
“Oh, he sounds fab.” She says, looking a little put out. “Do you always refer to him as Wesley Snipes? That’s a bit weird.”
“Oh, ha ha ha. It’s just a little in-joke between me and Wesley Snipes.”
God, Jen. Stop saying Wesley Snipes!
“Did I tell you that Keanu-Rainbow is excelling at maths?” Karen says proudly, abruptly changing the subject.
“He’s four isn’t he? The same as Jack.” I reply.
“Yes! I know it’s young but the pre-school thinks we might have a child genius on our hands.”
“Ah, well. Go Keanu-Rainbow!” I say. The last time I saw the little minion (he does have a look of Kevin from Despicable Me), he was eating glue paste, I am reserving judgement on the child genius thing.
Karen always does this one-upmanship thing, like if I had a pay rise at work, she’s suddenly opened her own business. She’s a proper chip pisser. I can’t let her get away with it this time, my mouth is doing that thing again where I don’t know what is going to come out.
“I’m getting married to Wesley Snipes!” I surprise myself. I said the words, then I heard the words, and It is as much news to me as it is to Karen.
Karen nearly spits out her kale whip latte, and I can see her try to disguise that a little bit has gone up her nose. She’s sniffing like a coke head and I stifle a laugh.
“Married? Isn’t that a bit quick?” She says surprised, still sniffing.
“Oh, when you know you know ha ha ha, it must have been fate. You and David will have to come over for dinner. Wesley Snipes is an excellent cook.”
Stop saying Wesley Snipes you moron, and while you’re at it stop inviting people over for dinner with your non-existent fiancé!
Suddenly Jack comes running up to the table to have a gulp of his pressed organic juice that Karen pre-ordered.
“Are you having fun darling?” I ask.
“Yes mummy. I am playing with Ochre-breeze and Echo-stream.”
For the love of battered sausages, why do all these little fuckers have hyphenated names with random words? They sound like bottles of wine!
“That’s nice darling. Would you like some of your wasabi peas?” I ask, knowing full well what the answer will be.
“I want some Haribo Starmix.” He says. (Okay, I didn’t know that was going to be the answer.) I look at Karen, who looks a bit like I’ve pissed on her chips for a change.
“Oh ha ha ha, we don’t eat those do we sweetheart—you can have some in the car.” I whisper to him from the corner of my mouth. Before I know it Keanu-Rainbow has found said packet of Haribo Starmix that I keep in my handbag for emergencies (you know, sweet emergencies.) Him and Jack are playing tug of war with the packet while I am still claiming to know nothing of how they found their way into my bag. I turn to Karen, she looks like she’s going to cry.
“You’re having such a nice life, and meanwhile my husband—camp as a row of tents, is building me a fucking yurt that I didn’t even want. Why can’t he build a shed like a normal fucking person. I haven’t eaten a carbohydrate in weeks and this kale whip tastes like a pile of crap.” She sobs.
“Oh, well. Keanu-Rainbow is doing well though. That’s good isn’t it?” I try to reassure her.
“Keanu-Rainbow thinks he’s a dog between the hours of 2pm to 8pm. The only way he will eat is if I put his dinner in a bowl on the floor and he shits on a newspaper in the corner of the room—only between the hours of 2 and 8.” She reiterates and sobs harder. Suddenly the tug of war sweet packet explodes everywhere, Haribo’s landing all over the table, the floor and plopping into Karen’s kale whip which splashes up to her chin to form a foamy green beard.
Do not laugh Jen, your friend is distressed. Do-not-laugh.
She looks like Billy Connolly.
Keanu-Rainbow is staring at his mother agog. Jack is looking vacant (you can tell he’s mine).
Then Keanu-minion-Rainbow who obviously hasn’t learnt that it isn’t polite to go through people’s bags pulls out the half-eaten McChicken sandwich that I’d stashed for later, a multi-pack of milky bars and three sanitary towels. He manages to cascade these items all over the floor for maximum visibility and suddenly the little fucker has got my phone.
Karen is too busy sobbing whilst simultaneously stuffing Starmix into her mouth to correct her child’s behaviour. Keanu-Rainbow is tapping away at my phone and I can’t quite reach him when all of a sudden I hear a cow mooing at full volume coming from my phone. That child, nor Karen nor any of the diners that are already tutting about my McChicken sandwich can see the rotating penis meme that goes with that sound. I leap across the table and manage to land in a superwoman-esque pose with my phone in hand. I have knocked the rest of Karen’s kale whip all over her; she now resembles the lovechild of Billy Connolly and the wicked witch of the west.
I am tapping frantically at my phone still in superwoman-esque flying pose trying to silence the fucker, everyone is looking at us and I notice my nipple seemingly outside of my clothes, sitting on the table in front of me like a dinner guest.
Even I can see there is no saving this particular situation. I get up with as much dignity as I can (which isn’t much, let me tell you), pop my nipple back into its bra holder (which clearly didn’t hold it very well the first time!) and pick up my milky bars, sanitary towels and half a McChicken sandwich and shove them back into my bag.
“We must do this again sometime. I’ll tell Wesley Snipes you said ‘Hi’” I call to a green covered Karen as I (and my long-suffering child) make the sharpest exit we can manage and head for Pizza Hut.
© 2020 Gemma Malak