My mother is the type of woman who sacrificed much of her younger years working to buy her own home and furnish it anew. After my dad left her, she sucked up whatever resolve she had, and switched off. The fast and loose Seventies were blocked out. The alimony never came, dad emigrated to Australia and mum was left with few alternatives. Her own parents struggled as contract cleaners, and after numerous after school visits to their work, she took up the only thing she knew.
Mum now owns her own cleaning company and managed to meet a nice man. I call her the Coco Chanel of cleaning; mum’s new husband financed her cleaning business in the same way Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s lover helped her open her flagship boutique at Rue Cambon.
My stepdad Malcolm passed me the mash. “Where’s Paul? I hoped to watch the football with him.”
“Poker game with the boys,” I said, dumping two ladle loads of mash onto my plate.
“Gravy?” I looked up.
“Here it is,” said mum, entering from the kitchen.
Malcolm sits at the head of the table with mum to his left. I sit opposite mum. Under the table, the balls of my feet bobbed up and down. The human body is filled with renewable energy. Breathing deeply, I smiled and toyed with the broad bean salad.
“You look happy. Did you find work?” asks mum. She’d given up offering me jobs. I wasn’t a snob, but sucked at cleaning. Either my brain gave out halfway or I’d miss obvious spots.
“Maybe. I’ve sent in a couple of applications,” I said, the lie manifest in the upturned corners of my mouth. “I don’t know yet.”
“One Italian eatery in the West End.”
“Which one? I may know it.”
She liked probing for more information. Parents may not believe they do it, but they constantly second guess and doubt their children. Some, like my mother, were justified. If a parent doesn’t know their child, then who does?
“I applied through a web site. It didn’t say. I think they’re using a recruitment agency,” I said.
Mum quietly nods, “Dig in. I didn’t cook for it all to sit there like a cook book photo.”
As much as she tried, her successful relationship with Malcolm aside, mum couldn’t attain the impossible perfection of a friendly dining table. Malcolm’s three sons didn’t take to the idea of their father remarrying so soon –three years – after the death of his wife. Mum’s side of the family warmed to Malcolm. The heavily discounted cars from his dealership also buttered my uncles up.
“How’s the business?” I asked.
“Forget the business. I wanted to ask if you were available this week. I need to buy a dress for Jeremy’s wedding.”
Jeremy was Michael’s middle son.
“Jeremy’s getting married?”
Malcolm offered a half smile. “He’s invited us at the last moment. I’m not too happy about it.”
“He’s busy,” Mum interjected.
“Stop making excuses for him.”
“When?” I asked.
“A fortnight,” they replied in unison.
The conversation revolves around family, weddings and future holidays. Nothing overly taxing. I helped clear the plates, load the dishwasher and reject the offer of a cheese platter with red wine with my regular excuse: I’m driving.
Truthfully, I needed to escape, to be on my own to devour the memory of the afternoon fuck in the handicapped toilet. Surreal, insane, hot and sultry. It ticked all my fantasy boxes. I didn’t care how many times Nate pulled strange women, if he used the same café or web site.
Thinking about Nate, his cock and his glowering face flicked on an inner switch. Standing at the kitchen counter, I swooned a little.
“You look like you’ve met the love of your life,” Mum said. “You haven’t met someone else have you?”
Shaking my head, I glare at her, “Mum!”
“It’s become a fashion trend now. I don’t want to say it loudly, but I think I’m lucky. Malcolm is a good man.”
Mum blushed. “I’m your mother. I don’t talk about stuff like that with you. Well…I have, about sex education. My personal life is off limits. You know that. But between you and me, he’s an attentive man.”
Attentive. I like that word. To me, it means someone who is willing to go down and stay there slurping pussy for hours if necessary. Mum may reveal that much to me, but the chances of me revealing that much about Paul were minimal.
No mum, I didn’t meet the love of my life, but did bump heads with a net geek. We scrambled to the nearest shopping mall, where he fingered and fucked me senseless in the handicapped lavatory.
I didn’t think I’d ever think it, but I needed to play some more. I needed a bit of everything. Colour outside the lines.