Friday, 9 October 2015

"Beware The Parents Evenings..."

Thank God my iphone was charged, 
Thank goodness his was too.
Thank heavens he carries a Swiss Army,
Or who knows what I would have had to do...

Last night was a fairly important event. It was a chance for all the parents in Egg's class at his new school to meet each other at an evening mixer. Everyone knows that once established, first impressions are hard to dislodge and as such, I was determined that the husband and I make as favourable a one as possible by presenting ourselves as 'normal' - for Eggie's sake.

For the husband that meant that ripped jeans and RAPHA were banned, and for me, an embargo on anything leather, Rock Chick or glittery. As we waited for our Uber to arrive, first Egg then the husband cast a disparaging glance down at my footwear and suggested I reconsider.  (For the record I was wearing a magenta dress and elegant, dark brown knee-length boots with a camel coloured cashmere outfit which wouldn't have looked out of place in Kate Middleton's wardrobe.)

"You look good Mama but don't wear those boots. They say, 'Look at me I own the place,'" Egg said.

"Yeah," mumbled the husband in agreement. "You don't want to wear those boots."

"What are you talking about?" I asked, incredulous. "These boots are what make this look. It's understated and elegant. Black ankle boots would be inappropriate."

The husband, stuffing the last few bites of curry in his mouth shrugged and said, "By the way Egg, the word you're looking for there is 'dominatrix.'"

Begrudgingly, I changed my boots, glanced in the mirror and confirmed that I now looked like I was headed to a London fashion week party and not a subdued middle class gathering of parents of privileged progeny. So I quickly switched back again.

"Why do I even listen to them?" I thought.  Why was I taking fashion advice from an 11 year old boy and a cycling cap aficionado?

We arrived at the venue, and armed with a glass of wine and a pint respectively, proceeded to make small talk with strangers. The husband managed not to make any off colour jokes, and I managed to be friendly without putting forth any strong views which might offend. An hour in and I was feeling rather proud of us.

"We can totally pull this off," I thought. I began to feel silly for having worried that we'd do something to embarrass Egg and turn him into a social pariah for the remainder of his Secondary School career. 

Then I excused myself and disappeared off to the loo.

The toilets were located a level down in the otherwise deserted club house and I took the chance to have a breather and check my phone for messages. I used the facilities and then tried to exit the cubicle.

The door wouldn't open. I twisted the lock the other way, heard a satisfying click, but it still wouldn't budge. Annoyed, I put my phone back into my purse and tried using both hands to manoeuvre the lock. No luck.

It was then that I noticed this sign:

Panicking, I peered up, and with a sinking feeling realised that despite having taken up running again, unless I could somehow morph into an anorexic spiderman, there was no way I'd be able to climb the slippery tiled wall and slip through a gap no wider than about a foot.

Totally screwed, I rang the husband, praying he'd answer. Meanwhile, starting to panic, in the likelihood that he didn't answer, a string of potential scenarios began to play out in my head - each one more horrific than the last:

Scenario 1: I attempt to contact a school employee out of hours, interrupting someones dinnertime whilst I try to explain who I am, where I am, and how I need to be rescued - and could they please not call emergency services...

Scenario 2: I scream myself hoarse, disrupting the quite calm in the upstairs clubhouse, causing a stampede of parents to thunder downstairs under the assumption that they are about to bear witness to the first stabbing in the history of the school.

Scenario 3: In desperation I remove my brown leather boots and try and use my now heavily perspiring bare feet as suction cups to grip the tiles, making it to the top before getting just my head wedged through the top gap - where too ashamed to call out, I remain until the end of the evening, until rescued by an incredulous and slightly inebriated gentleman relieving himself next door.

That's as far as I get when husband suddenly answers. Never was I so happy to hear his voice, though to be fair, I would have appreciated a slightly less outrageous guffaw when I explained my predicament.

"Shhhhh!! Don't say anything," I begged. "Don't make a big deal, don't let anyone know, and just slip out and come save me...NOW!" I hissed, in case he harboured any intention of finishing his current pint first.

Moments later I heard the husband whistle to make sure the coast was clear, then he strolled into the otherwise empty bathroom and attempted a cursory unlocking attempt.

"You're stuffed," he said. Three pints in, this struck him as rather funny, but I was quickly losing my sense of humour.

I started to whimper and beg. Luckily he's a resourceful fellow and for as long as I've known him, has been in the habit of carrying around his beloved 'Minichamp' - a small swiss army knife, which he magically produced from his pocket and began jamming into the lock with determination. My love knew no bounds. After a few minutes of quiet tension, he triumphantly set me free and strolled out as casually as he entered - like a 'Banksy-esque' version of James Bond - leaving me to compose myself and breathe a sigh of relief.

Within moments of joining the upstairs gathering again, I'd been swallowed up in a riveting conversation about kitchen extensions - no one the wiser about the near disaster which had just been averted. And shortly after that, we met Egg's teacher who, predictably, commented upon our eldest sons' inability to see through the worlds' longest-ever fringe. I then admitted (possibly regretfully in hindsight) to trimming his fringe in his sleep, and on that bombshell Egg's teacher quietly excused herself and the party began to break up.

All in all I suppose it was a fairly successful evening. However for Egg's sake I reckon that moving forward, it's probably best that the husband and I make like Victorian children of old: seen but not heard. Actually, not seen and not heard is probably better. It's only a matter of time before we justify driving our 'Kamper Van with a K' to a school function and mortify Egg for all eternity. I'm calling it now...

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