Teenage warn­ing is muzak to her ears

Sunderland Echo - - Comment - RICHARD ORD

Our el­dest son turned 17 and asked if he could have a party with his friends at our house. As the rea­soned voice of san­ity in our home I told him “over my dead body.”

I didn’t see the knife, but it was swift and caught me right be­tween the shoul­der blades.

It was a metaphor­i­cal knife, of course, and was wielded by my wife.

“Of course you can have a party at our house son,” she told him. “But we have to be strict on the num­bers.”

I reck­oned on about five guests, hand­picked by me and the wife, ought to re­duce the chances of bother.

We could in­ter­view them over the course of a month, check­ing ref­er­ences and get­ting them to sign a good be­hav­iour agree­ment. A de­posit of £40 seemed fair to me too.

“Stick to no more than 30,” she said. “You can have your party as soon as you like.”

I’ve got used to be­ing ig­nored. It comes with the ter­ri­tory. I’m a kind of back­ground noise. Like el­e­va­tor muzak.

But not only am I not heard, I’m also not told any­thing. For the last 18 years of mar­riage, I am just ex­pected to pick up in­for­ma­tion.

My wife will of­ten sud­denly ques­tion why I’m not get­ting dressed. “We’ve got guests tonight,” she’ll say.

“Well, no one told me,” I’ll re­ply, only be to be told: “You were in the room when I ar­ranged it on the phone.”

Like I lis­ten to what my wife says over the phone.

I think women ex­pect men to hang onto their ev­ery word. Ei­ther that, or they think we sim­ply ab­sorb their thoughts just by be­ing near them. It cer­tainly can’t be as sim­ple as us for­get­ting what we’re told.

Any­way, 30 ram­pant teenagers in the house, what could pos­si­bly go wrong?

It was if my wife had for­got­ten what it was like to be a teen. Maybe it’s a woman thing. They have short mem­o­ries. I mean, de­spite the trauma of child­birth, they al­ways seem quite happy to go through it again. Clearly the teenage par­ties she went to were noth­ing like the ones I at­tended or she’d never have agreed to our Bradley hav­ing one. Still, should any­thing go wrong, I would blame-free. I’d been over­ruled and, any­way, I was out that night, so she would be in charge.

The seeds of con­cern were planted later in the week when I bumped into a pal at the gym. With a fur­rowed brow he asked if it was true that we were al­low­ing Bradley to have a party at our house.

“Yes,” I told him, “But we’re be­ing strict on num­bers.” He flashed a quizzi­cal look. “I’ve heard there’s 50 go­ing.”

Turned out his son had been in­vited and that word on the street was that 50 were go­ing. I ques­tioned Bradley.

“Yes,” he said. “There’s 50 been in­vited, but not ev­ery­one will turn up.”

Need­less to say, 50 turned up and car­nage en­sued.

It gave me ab­so­lutely no plea­sure what­so­ever to tell my wife “I told you so.” At first.

On telling her for the 30th time this week, I’m rather start­ing to en­joy it.

Party im­age posed by mod­els.

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