“Dad, are you crying?” asks my son.
As a parent there are two things you should always do in private: crying and wanking. If you’re doing both at the same time, call the appropriate helpline.
As it happens, I am crying. I’ve just watched the famous clip of the Brownlee brothers. They were competing in a triathlon in Mexico. The younger brother was leading when he collapsed near the finish line. His brother stopped to help him and heroically carried his younger brother over the line, forsaking his own chance to become world champion.
I show my teen son the emotive footage. “That’s really inspiring,” he says. “Seeing something like that really makes me want to get involved in sport. In fact, I’m going to go out for a run. Now.”
Bullshit – I think. Teenagers don’t just voluntarily exercise, even after seeing their dad crying. It’s a smokescreen. He’s nipping out to the shop to buy fizzy dummies with stolen money; my money. But I’ve got a devious plan to scupper his cunning plan.
“OK. Just let your mother know,” I say.
He thunders up stairs and I hear the low murmur of a teenager telling his mother a bullshit motivational jogging story. This is followed by excited squeals. He thunders downstairs.
“You knew about this, didn’t you?” he says angrily.
“What?” I say.
“She wants to come jogging with me. And she says that she’s got an ‘outfit’.”
“It’s tight,” I say, “and it’s ‘coordinated’.”
“Christ,” he mutters and starts pacing around the room. The kind of frenetic pacing I usually see him doing when the wifi drops out.
“Don’t worry about it,” I say. “Your mates won’t see you jogging with your mother.”
“They will,” he says, “and we’ll be out for ages. She said that because I’m going with her, it means that we can jog past this ‘dodgy’ place. Somewhere she usually avoids because she doesn’t feel safe. Where’s that?”
“She means the Conservative Club,” I say.
I nip upstairs to check on her progress. My wife sees me and does a little catwalk posturing. “What do you think of the outfit?” she asks, and theatrically plonks hands on hips.
“I can totally see the outline of your fanny,” I say.
“You’re meant to,” she says, and launches in a series of star jumps. It gets very graphic, very quick.
“I don’t think I’m legally old enough to see this,” I say and she flips me the finger.
I rejoin my son in the living room. A few moments later, the door bursts opens and a massive fanny on legs stomps into the room.
“It’s pain time, peasants!” shouts my wife like a drill sergeant, and propels herself into an exaggerated warm-up lunge. The colour drains from my son’s face.
“Yes; yes it is,” I say and search on my phone for an appropriate helpline.