It is Sunday night, the kids are in bed and my wife and I are splayed on the couch fortifying our relationship by gossiping about other parents.
These clandestine chats drive my wife crazy because I generally don’t know who she is talking about. The main problem being that I use nicknames, and she, in a rather old-fashioned way, insists on using their real names, which she embellishes further by describing their hair in graphic detail.
“Do you know Tom from year three?” she says with a mischievous glint in her eye.
“You know, the boy with the jet-black hair. It’s short at the sides and long on the top, but he gels it back.”
“Do you mean Dracula?”
“I hope you haven’t called him that in front of our kids, ” she says in a preachy tone.
“Of course not,” I lie.
I have watched most of Breaking Bad marooned in such conversations. I think the writers of TV dramas, that are underpinned by complex storylines, should take into account that my wife and I, their target audience, get easily confused describing other people’s hair.
“No, not not Dracula,” she says with a familiar frustration. “The one I’m talking about has got a brother in year four. Short hair, side parting.”
At this point, I am confident I don’t know who she is talking about, but what I do know is, that there are two of them. This is just enough information for me to pretend to be in the loop so that she can proceed.
“Do you know his dad?” she continues.
“Yes,” I lie again. “What’s he done now?”
“When he dropped his kids off at school this morning he was wearing skin-tight cycling shorts.” She followed this statement up by doing a few hand gestures, which I think this guy would have found flattering.
As a parent you quickly learn that certain types of behaviour are out of bounds when dropping your kids off at school, or they will rank high on the gossip charts.
For instance, you should never ride your kid’s scooter to school. You may think you’re being ironic, but it will be seen as a desperate pitch for coolness. This, of course, pales into insignificance when you’re stood on a scooter next to someone showcasing their giblets in stretchy shorts.
Persistent lycra offenders will soon pop up on the radar of influential members of the PTA, who think dads obsessed with exaggerated crotch displays, are perfect for working on the hot dog stall at the summer fair.
“Hang on. Who are we talking about?” I say with a furrowed brow. I have decided that this gossip is so juicy, I actually need to know who’s playing the lead.
My wife lets out a long sigh, and starts again, “You know Tom with the…”
I drift off again but I don’t feel guilty. My wife has known me for fifteen years and yet she still insists on describing people to me by using their real name, hair style and penis size.