The appointed day came and after we’d picked him up from the airport and brought him back to our house, he showered and then unpacked. He’d arrived, the boyfriend! Now I should have known, beng a man-of-the-world, that things would not run a smooth and unruffled course. Initially, it wasn’t so bad. This lad - well, young man really, was just too good to be true! As the days unwinded, he began to show his personality. He was polite, well-spoken, he didn’t drink or smoke or, dare I say it, ‘do’ drugs...Above all else, he was clean! Those of you out there who have teenage boys will know that they can sometimes be, let’s put it politely, less than hygenic! This one, however, was obsessed! He’d spend countless hours in the bathroom, pruning himself, drying his hair, straightening his hair…none of which helped matters when, come seven o’clock in the morning I’d start to get ready for work, only to find him in the bathroom, showering and pampering. Fortunately, we had another shower-room, so it wasn’t too much of an ordeal. But later, when I got home, I’d come in to find…that he was still in there! Surely, I heard myself asking my wife, he hasn’t been in there all day?
He had his uses though. Very proficient at skimming the pool, he was. There he’d be, milk-bottle white, three straw hats perched precariously on his perfectly coiffured head, whistling a playful tune, immersed in his own little-world. Who was I to argue? That pool was a nightmare, a recurring one at that! We’d had a storm (yes, rain!) and all the dust in the air had been brought down and deposited right into my pool. It was black. I tried everything: skimming, vacuuming, scrubbing…all to no avail. But nothing deterred this young man from doing his duty. Good luck to him, was all I could say! Better than nothing! It didn’t help of course. What would? People would go into epilepsy if I mentioned I would have to empty it. They’d pipe up in unison, “You never empty a pool, lad!” So I manfully continued to skim…or, more accurately, my dear daughter’s boyfriend did!
And what of my dearest child? Well, she responded to the situation in her usual fashion. She slept. Constantly. It never ceased to amaze me how someone so young could sleep for so long. I’m not sure if she ever saw any daylight. Nocturnal she was, totally. I would get home at around six most evenings and she would just about be starting to rise. She’d stomp down the stairs, looking very green around the gills, sit at the table and stare vacantly into space. Her mother would place a cup of coffee or tea under her nose and eventually, after a few noisy slurps, she would begin to register her surroundings. Then she mumble her well known phrase of, ‘What’s for tea?’ After my wife had man-handled me to the ground to prevent me from strangling our darling child, the little angel would pad out into the garden and greet her boyfriend with a grunt; to which he responded with a groan. Then they would sit and stare into the murky depths of the pool, no doubt engrossed in a meaningful, telepathic conversation.
As the evening wore on things would change. What were previously morose, but silent teenagers, began to slowly discover their vocal chords. And with that came a cacophony of screaming and shouting at each other which certainly brightened up our day but must have put the fear of the Almighty into our neighbours! They would argue about anything, anything at all. From who had used the nail-clippers to what DVD they should watch, we were subjected to it all. But by far the most serious were the accusations over mobile phone use and, more accurately, the sending of texts.
We’d listen, my wife and I, in stunned silence, to this ritual of personal abuse which they flung at each other with alarming regularity and wondered what on earth we had done. Before the boyfriend had arrived, my daughter’s constant crying was heart-breaking, it’s true, but this…this was just awful!
Well, the days went by. They’d get up around six, have an evening meal (we were still working to British timings at this point – the Spanish custom of eating later hadn’t really taken home yet) then watch some TV. Then they might doze fitfully on the couch, or even go back to bed. Later, at around two in the morning, they’d emerge (not that I hardly ever saw them!), clear the kitchen cupboards of all things edible, then settle down to watch DVDS. By the time I was up for work, he – as previously stated – was in the shower, and my daughter was back in bed. There she’d stay, until six o’clock came round again and the whole, pitiful cycle would begin once more!
It was hell on earth. Christmas was looming. It seems strange now, looking back, how everything just seemed to blur into one, single mass of events. Those first few months just flew by. So much had happened. Leaving Blighty and settling in Spain, starting a job, putting my little girl in the local school. It was just like a whirlwind and it was impossible to sit back, take a breath, and reflect. Work was so enjoyable that no sooner was I walking through the doors on a Monday morning than it was suddenly Friday afternoon! Weekends were a hectic round of shopping and visiting the beach. I would swim in the glorious Med and wonder when it would start getting cold enough to prevent me from doing such a thing! I’d look across to the mountains and pause to remind myself how incredibly lucky I was. Here I was, on the Costa del Sol, enjoying the most fantastic climate whilst my poor friends in the UK suffered the blight of miserable, grey days. It was simply wondrous to me and I used to wake up in the morning, half expecting to see dull, rain-filled clouds heralding the on-set of winter. But that day never seemed to arrive. True, by November, I was noticing a little nip in the air in the morning, but nothing to complain about! I was still arriving at work in shirt-sleeve order, much to the astonishment of my Spanish colleagues. The seasoned British teachers would shake their heads in sage-like fashion, ‘You just wait,’ they’d tell me, snuggled down in layers of Arran, ‘this time next year you’ll be feeling the cold!’ I remained unconvinced, returning to my classroom to quickly switch on the fans full-blast and open all the windows. I just could never imagine becoming used to the heat! It was relentless during the day, with clear, blue skies that would gladden even the most pained of hearts. And mine was paining, because back home the heated rows between our daughter and her boyfriend continued to punctuate every night!
We knew we couldn’t take much more of it. Indeed, the length of his stay hadn’t really been discussed in any great detail, but as the days became weeks and the weeks became, well, months, I began to have serious doubts about everyone’s sanity! So, biting the bullet one particularly calm and restful evening, I broached the subject of him returning to the UK.
You can imagine the reaction.
When the tears had subsided, the name-calling, the screams, the yelling, the putting me on a pedestal reserved for the world’s meanest, most wicked father, it was finally agreed that he could stay until Christmas but then, in the New Year, he would have to return home.
What a few weeks they were!