Throughout my undergraduate degree, I had this…relationship is generous, but let’s call it a relationship, with a guy we will call….Farmer Ted.
Ted and I met in Freshers’ Week, at a party thrown in our halls of residence. We were in separate blocks, but had mutual friends, and we met in one of those awkward conversations where someone who doesn’t want to carry on talking to one party sees someone approaching who can be neatly slotted in, so they can make their escape. This time it was “Oh! Lucy! You and Ted both grew up in Dorset! *hasty escape*”
Oh good, thinks I. I’m an escape plan. And thus begins three years of back and forth, of which there are many anecdotes I could share.
But I’m skipping to the end. After we graduated, after Ted had finally declared himself and sworn blindly this was what he wanted, he came over to Meet The Parents. It wasn’t intentionally to meet the parents – I was running a bar at a local music event, and thought he might like to hang out. He wanted to. He came over. We ate some dinner, and then, by the time came to leave to set up said bar, my parents still weren’t home, so we went out. Part of me was relieved. My family, whilst incredible, are also intense, and I was slightly worried about how Ted would react and be reacted to.
We got to the event, and started to set up, and I got a text from the parentals, telling me they’d come along later. Probably. If they felt like it. I put the phone away.
The rest of the evening was spent running around like headless chickens, serving drinks (Ted) and dashing out to the Co-op to buy more ingredients when we ran out (me). Eventually, at 10pm, after the third supermarket dash to get more ingredients, we prepared to close the bar. Enough was enough, and I wanted to enjoy my evening, and my time with Ted.
And then, from the corner of my eye, I see my dad walk into the event.
My dad, fast approaching fifty, is wearing a baseball cap backwards on his head, and carrying a skateboard under his arm.
He catches my eye. I freeze in place, wondering what the hell is about to happen, and Ted turns to me, looking afraid at my sudden stillness. “Lucy…?”
Pa drops the skateboard on the floor, and steps onto it. He skates – wobbly and slow – across to the bar. He attempts to do the trick where you stamp on the end of the skateboard, and it flips up vertically so you can pick it up. He fails, so he bends down and picks up the skateboard, before dropping it on the bar.
“Hi Lucy,” he grins.
“Hello,” I respond, taking in the cap, the skateboard, the unwavering eye contact. I can’t help but grin. Welcome to the family, Ted, this is what we’re really like.
He ignores Ted completely. “Just been practicising my ollies in the skate park,” he says.
“So I see. Good for you.” I will not make this seem like it is unusual. I will be in complete control of myself.
“Catch you later.” He puts the skateboard back on the ground and skates off.
A long, heavy, moment blossoms in the bar. I dare not move. Finally, I take a breath, and turn to Ted, who looks like someone has just hit him with the skateboard in an unprovoked attack – slightly dazed, confused, with a medium amount of pain.
Ted turns to me. “Was…that…your dad?” his voice quavers with uncertainty.
I take a deep and steadying breath. “Yes.”
“No!” I exclaim in horror, turning to Ted. “He’s always like that…..” my voice tails off as I realise what I’m saying.
“Huh,” Ted seems to mull this over, before nodding, and going back to the washing up.
We don’t mention it again, but when we get back to my house, Ma and Pa, and YoungerBro and BabyBro are waiting in the kitchen for the inquisition. The six of us sit, sip a little wine (Ted has to drive, so he has a spritzer…that was probably a sign, in retrospect) and chat for a little while longer.
Eventually, Ted says he must get back, and I walk him out to his car. We say goodnight, and….
….I see Ted once more, three months later, at our graduation ceremony. The three months of radio silence don’t seem to have bothered him the way they have bothered me, and he’s made no effort to bridge the gap. I’ve called and texted, but after a month it looks needy, doesn’t it? So I stop. But here we are, getting our BAs, and he greets me with deep affection, greets my parents equally so, and then…we are separated – he goes to get photos, I go to get a nice big fat cream tea in the Graduates Tent. I get one text from him on the way home “I’m proud of us, LoopyLoo. We did good. See you soon.”
And that’s it. The end. I later hear he’s married a girl from his hometown (good for him) and is happy (even better).
My father remains a raving lunatic, who pays a kid a fiver to borrow his skateboard and baseball cap to meet the boyfriend for the first time in the most dramatic and ridiculous way possible. (Also, he had actually been in the pub beforehand. It’s just that he’d do that when sober anyway, so the alcohol makes no difference at all. For example. last week, whilst deadly sober, he told us he wanted a roast poo sandwich for Father’s Day. His default setting is “cheeky prankster”. I secretly enjoy it, but don’t tell him.)