Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Demographic Shift - 27

My parents miraculously appeared this week, which was really rather strange as I was having dinner at the house of some friends at the time.

Of course it wasn't actually my parents in real life as that would have been entirely alarming. Besides, I don't think they have appeared side by side like that for two decades. It's doubtful that they would even recognise each other either.

No what happened was Susan and I were over having dinner with Alison and Paul when almost out of nowhere things took a rapid turn for the worst in an almost social apocalyptic fashion.

Having only just finished the main course (a rather nicely baked cod) we never even made it to the dessert, which is such a shame as I hardly ever have dessert these days and was rather looking forward to the traditional apple tart that was coming my way.

Sadly it wasn't to be. The apple tart was not consumed as right in front of Susan and I, Alison and Paul who are meant to be best - best car, best house, best looking and best relationship - decided to launch a massive row.

After it started it was like Susan and I weren't there. We just sat there as Alison and Paul had their full-on inaugural public matrimonial fight. I have to tell you that I was stunned. I mean I've seen friends take a bit out of their partners in public before, but it's usually just a caustic snap, no more than a morsel of a sarcastic barb.

This, however, was different. This was whole sentences and it was the first time that I have seen a married couple go for each other like this who happen to be my friends. My only other experience of viewing that kind of spat in the past has been watching my now long divorced parents. And wham it hit me. It actually hurt, which is bloody odd as I'm usually not slammed by my own realisation, but I felt it then. It was like being that ice hockey player who gets body checked at 25 KPH by a member of the other team.

And what a realisation: my friends are turning into my parents (their parents, somebody's parents, but you know what I'm saying here there are definitely parents involved), which means that it is only a matter of time before it happens to me.

OMG it’s true I have just left the 18-34 year old demographic watershed and it's all true. It wasn't just rubbish that market researchers made up -as you exit the 18-34 year old demographic you really do start to change. I'm doomed, I mean what other way can you describe it?

Amusingly enough a graphic picture of me has appeared on a development part of Brand Republic with the caption: "I now look exactly like me dad". And there was I thinking that techies were lacking in a sense of humour.

Of course, I digress. Sitting there with Susan all I wanted to do was get out of the room, but I was rooted like a road-kill caught in the headlight beams of an oncoming car.

Watching your parents is bad enough, but watching your best friends take verbal chunks out of each other somehow is much worse (this could of course just be me). But even as I thought about wanting to leave I knew that I couldn't as Alison and Paul were arguing like they are not meant to. Like I said they are meant to be best.

I so wanted to go, but was worried that if I moved my chair it would scrape on the stripped pine floors causing one of them to look up and notice me sitting opposite them and ask me what I was doing there. I'd have had to be honest and tell them that I had no idea.

"I don't know," I could have maybe shrieked my voice suddenly all high pitched and child like and it would all be terribly embarrassing, but somehow it will not be quite embarrassing enough for them to stop, in one of those situational comedy moments where everyone just breaks out into laughter and slaps each other on the back and says "what are we doing here? This isn't us".

Fortunately (not quite the word) this situation did not go on too much longer as Alison picked up her plate and slammed it down on the table sending her knife and fork flying. With that she got up and walked (well waddled really, she is five months pregnant) out of the dining room.

It was only at this point that Paul looked at Susan and I for the first time since they had started yelling at each other, shrugged his shoulders and mouthed the word sorry before following Alison, who had retreated upstairs.

As far as I was concerned that was definitely our cue to go.

"Come on lets go," I said to Susan.

"Don't you think we should wait?"

"What for? Dessert?"

"Mmm, maybe you have a point."

"I definitely have a point, come on, dinner's over."

Susan and I went down the road to the local pub to discuss 'When dinner parties go bad'.

The worst thing about the row was that it started over such a trivial thing. Well I thought it was, I mean that could just be me. It started when Paul said, "Do you really think you should be having that second glass of wine?" You can kind of imagine how it went from there and I would love to go into more details, but I also know that I probably shouldn't.

Anyway, seeing your parents materialise all Star Trek like in North London was bad enough, I guess I shouldn't write too extensively about it less they make another guest appearance.