“Can you meet me for lunch?”
Em, not really, but she sounds worried, she’s never suggested this before, so OK. Maybe it’s her looming orthodontics, her grandad who’s not well, or numerous things of which I’ve been oblivious. I have previous on this (I sent Eldest Child to school with a hankie and it turned out to be pneumonia, twice) so I’m feeling guilty as I race along to her chosen venue. It’s the kind of cafe I’d never have the temerity to enter, where things are served on slates and cake is deconstructed, but Youngest is a queen of cafe culture and is already perusing a menu, unfazed.
I slide onto one of the mismatched chairs at the deliberately shoogly table and make a cautious approach.
“This is a cool place. What a nice suggestion... How are you?”
“Oh, very good,” she says.
“So, everything OK with you?” I say.
“Not worried about anything… the dentist? Fallen out with your pals?”
“So there wasn’t any big reason why you wanted to meet?”
“Yes. There was…”
The tension is killing me. “What?!”
“The soup here’s really good.”
I have spawned a lady who lunches. This thought reminds me of work.
“OK, any ideas for my column?”
“Write something embarrassing about Middle Child. The condoms.”
“Done the condoms,” I say, a little too loudly. “Last week.” The people at the next table stare.
“Shoosh!” she says.
“OMG, it’s like when you were talking sooooo loudly about vaginas in the high street.”
“It was in context. These things need to be normalised. There’s nothing wrong with talking about vaginas. Or condoms. Or sanitary products. Or sexually transmitted diseases or...”
Our neighbours pause mid bite.
“La, la, la. OK. DO NOT write about me or this conversation.”
“OK. I won’t.”
Oops. ha, ha, ha. n