“My penis doesn’t know how inappropriate this is!” 

Last weekend, I met Andrew’s parents.

For a while, he’d been speaking vaguely about us going back to his home city for Easter. (I won’t say where he’s from, to avoid identifying him, but it’s one of the smaller cities, a couple of hours from London.)

Then, by Thursday, nothing had been mentioned, so I assumed we weren’t going.

I had been feeling frazzled and exhausted at work, and was desperate for the Easter break. Also, my Mum had a TIA last week (transient ischemic attack, a mini-stroke) and I was worried about that. Plus I was worried about a couple of side issues with friends.

So, when it seemed like we weren’t going away, I was relieved. I had been meaning to paint my bathroom since I got new tiles and a new floor in December.

Then, Thursday night, Andrew came around, really late. He’d worked late all week, so we’d barely spoken on the phone.

“So, I thought we could go and see my parents this weekend?” he said.

He talked enthusiastically about how we could stay with them, and he thought they’d really like me and I’d like them, and then we could go and see his sister, and then I could meet his best friend from back home. He seemed so excited about me meeting everyone, so I said Yes.

After we’d put the light out, I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about what I needed to pack, for meeting Andrew’s parents, but I felt so stressed I couldn’t think straight. We were going to a wedding on Easter Monday, and I still needed to finish sewing the dress I was planning to wear. I felt overwhelmed.

Andrew realised I was still awake and put the light back on, and asked me what was wrong. I started crying when I explained. he said we didn’t have to go (he hadn’t even told his parents that we were visiting!) and he would help me paint my bathroom instead.

In the morning, on Good Friday, I woke up early and said I did think we should go. I did want to meet his family.

I went and had a shower. Afterwards, I got back into bed with him, naked.

I looked at my phone, and my Mum had texted me about an MRI scan she’d had.

“I’m so worried about my Mum!” I said.

He hugged me and we talked about my Mum.

Talking to him about my problems usually makes me feel better, because he’s kind and also sensible. However, he does sometimes do that classic man thing of trying to suggest a solution instead of just listening.

There’s a chapter in Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars about this, and I think there’s a lot of truth in it. I’ve seen it time and time again with boyfriends and male friends. (Although I think women occasionally do it too, and I’ve done it.)

It says that men are more likely to talk about a problem to get solutions, whereas women talk about their problems to express their feelings. Obviously, there’s huge variation across the genders, and sometimes we all do both, but I do think this theory fits well with the subtle messages men and women are given by society about expressing emotions and approaching problems.

According to this theory, when women tell men about their problems, men think the subtext is Please help me a find a solution. However, often, the subtext is actually Please listen to how I’m feeling. Sometimes women talk about feelings about problems, rather than possible solutions, because either there isn’t a solution, or we already know the solution, but it will be difficult.

When men rush in with “Well, you just need to do this!” we both end up frustrated. Women can feel like “I bloody know that, it’s just a horrible situation! Why aren’t you listening!”

Men can feel like “This is a good solution! I’m trying to help! Why are you getting even more upset!”

I was upset about my Mum having mini-strokes because it was scary for her. Also, it means she’s more likely to have a full stroke, which could be disabling or even fatal.

But underneath that, I’d also been thinking about her memory. I’ve been worried about her memory for the last 2 years, and she has been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, which could lead to dementia. One day at Christmas she was tearful about her memory. At one point, I was trying to talk to her about Andrew and L-word-gate, but she couldn’t remember the situation. She’s always been great to talk to about relationships, and it was the first time her memory had stopped her helping me.

Having looked after people with dementia in a nursing home, I’m worried about her developing severe dementia. Some of the people I looked after didn’t know where they were, and felt scared and unhappy some of the time. I had been weighing up which would be worse out of having a major stroke and dying quickly, or gradually getting severe dementia over a long period of years.

Which is a really sad thing to be thinking about your Mum.

I wanted to reflect on how sad that was, whereas Andrew kept piping up with “well you just need to talk to your Dad to try and find out more about what’s happening!”

I got pissed off.

“I’m trying to tell you that I don’t want my Mum to die!” I said, crying.

I sort of managed to explain that I just wanted him to listen to how I felt, which he sort of took on board. We hugged.

Then, I shifted under the duvet and saw he had a massive erection.

“Have you got an erection under there!” I exclaimed, laughing. “I’m crying here!”

“I’m sorry!” He replied, completely shame-faced, trying to cover it with his hands. “It’s because you’re still naked. My penis doesn’t know how completely inappropriate this is!”

That sort of broke the tension.

Eventually, he went home to pack and we reconvened at St. Pancras station.

It was a hot day and he nearly missed the train, and by the time we got on, he was dripping with sweat from running.

We found somewhere to sit, and discussed his parents and topics of conversation to avoid. Apparently his Dad and brother-in-law voted for Brexit, but his Mum and sister didn’t. I could probably get away from swearing in front of them but his Mum might not like too many Jesus Christs. His Mum is quite religious but his Dad isn’t.

I kept asking him if he’d texted his parents yet, to tell them I can’t eat gluten. I was worried they’d make me something and I wouldn’t be able to eat it.

We arrived in his home city, and he suggested we have a drink in a nice pub first, so he could show me a bit of the city. Then we would get the bus to his parents’ house.

As we walked down the street, I kept stopping and saying, “Give me a kiss in your home town!”

I enjoyed chatting to him in the pub. I can’t remember what we talked about, but I remember having fun.

We caught the bus, and had problems because he’d forgotten the buses don’t give change. In London, buses don’t take cash at all, and you have to use an Oystercard or contactless payment. We had thought to get cash out, but had forgotten they don’t give change.

The bus driver seemed horrified when Andrew put a crisp ten pound note into the slot, when the fare was only £6, but it was our only option.

We got to his house, and he let himself in. I normally ring the doorbell at my parents’ house, or they see me park my car and scurry out excitedly.

At first it was quiet, but then his parents came into the kitchen and greeted us. His Mum was small and thin and gentle, and his Dad was tall and smart and welcoming.

They had made dinner for us, which we sat down and ate. His Dad had made a really nice salad with rice, and some fish.

At first, the three of them mainly talked about other family members and things, especially their Grandson’s birthday, the day before. Then, they apologised and started asking me more about myself.

I told them my brother’s children were the same ages as their grandchildren. Unfortunately, I accidentally inhaled a piece of rice which seemed to get stuck at the top of my windpipe. I had a dilemma about whether it was worse etiquette to have massive coughing fit at the table, including phlegm and retching, or whether going to the bathroom halfway through a course was worse. Eventually I went into the bathroom and had a good old cough.

Apart from that, I felt pretty comfortable with his parents. To be honest, I had expected them to be weirder.

I knew that L-word-gate was partly caused by his family never saying “I love you” to each other. He had also told me his parents have unusual ideas about some things, like they never go out for dinner. He feels guilty if he does anything extravagant, like buying Tropicana fruit juice, which he says comes from his Dad.

I was expecting it to be a cold, puritanical, loveless household, but actually, it was warm and very clear they love him.

There were pictures of all their children on the walls, and there was a lovely, quite recent one of Andrew. Just the affectionate version of his name they used, when they offered him food and drink, made it feel like they love him.

We talked about how Andrew has just been promoted at work, and they seemed proud.

We went through to the living room and chatted a bit more, and then we went to bed.

I knew that Andrew had never had sex in his parents’ house before. It was funny to see his parents’ spare room in the flesh, because over Christmas, Andrew and I had video-called most days and I’d seen that room in the background.

I wasn’t sure if we’d have sex at his parents’ house, due to the risk. Plus, Andrew may not feel sexy if he’s in Family Mode rather than Sex Mode.

Then, we got into bed, in our underwear, and enthusiastically kissed and hugged.

It seemed like we couldn’t not have sex.

Annoyingly, we didn’t have condoms, as we keep running out or leaving them at the wrong house, so we had oral. Incredibly quietly. It was really good.

In the morning, we had more oral sex, and then he went downstairs and made scrambled eggs.

His Dad was already out doing volunteering, but we chatted to his Mum while we had breakfast.

I had thought Andrew was making eggs for everyone, but it was just for me. He had cereal.

“Andrew makes amazing eggs. I don’t know what he does differently!” I said to his Mum.

She looked proud and said, “Low heat and lots of stirring.”

After we’d had showers, and he’d walked in on me on the toilet, to tell me something about the bathroom fan, we went into the city centre on our own, to meet his best friend.

This time we’d found out there was an app we could download for buying bus tickets, but we missed one bus as Andrew forgot his wallet.

We did a bit of shopping first. We still had the wedding on Monday and I wanted to buy red hair flower accessories, to go with my dress.

After going in every possible shop and not finding any, we went to the pub and met his friend Matthew.

It was such a lovely, hot, sunny day. We sat outside the pub in the sun.

I really liked Matthew. The conversation was easy and interesting.

Eventually we went back, so we could go to his sister’s house.

It was early evening by then. She lives around the corner from his parents, and is married with two children.

We got to their house, and they were out in the garden.

There was a lot of smoke in the garden, and it turned out they’d lit a fire. Andrew had sent his nephew a den-building kit for his birthday that week, and the Dad, Andrew’s brother-in-law, had lit a small fire to go with the den.

I felt a bit panicked. I don’t like fire.

In the first couple of years after the house fire which killed my ex-boyfriend, I couldn’t bear any kind of fire. My parents have an open fireplace in their house, and I wouldn’t let them light a fire at Christmas. I didn’t want to be at barbecues and would sit on the opposite side of any pub that had a fireplace.

I can’t bear seeing the way the flames move, and the smoke makes me think of his carbon monoxide poisoning and makes me feel like I can’t breathe either. I can’t bear the crackling sound that fire makes as it makes me think of my staircase being burnt away.

I have got better at being around fires. I’ve got more used to it, and don’t mind if my parents light their fire now.

This one felt scarier, even though it was small, because it felt less contained. Even though it was definitely safe – it was just a few pine cones, and the fire looked like it had been built in a safe way – it wasn’t housed away in a fireplace or barbecue, it was in the middle of the garden.

After the introductions, I turned my back on the fire while Andrew spoke to his sister. I noticed a rabbit hopping around in another part of the garden, and I went and looked at the rabbit instead.

Initially the children were in the tent in the garden.

The adults all went and sat at some patio furniture. His sister got us some drinks, and I gladly accepted a glass of wine.

Again, I really liked his sister and her husband. They were really friendly. They were easy to talk to and seemed interested in getting to know me.

Eventually, their four-year-old daughter came and sat with us, but their older child, a boy, stayed at the other end of garden. I knew he had autism from previous conversations.

The fire went out.

The little girl was running around playing with a fishing net, and then she said she wanted to catch Andrew with it.

For some reason it really made me laugh, seeing Andrew standing behind the climbing frame in his checked shirt, with her running around with the net, like Andrew was a giant butterfly.

I tried to catch him and hold him still so she could get him, but he was too strong.

We had planned to go out for dinner on our own, as we’d known the children would be going to bed soon. I was having a nice time but was quite hungry.

Then, the fire got re-lit and I felt my heart rate speed up again, and I said, “shall we go and get some dinner then?”

We said our goodbyes, and then caught another bus, back into town.

When we were on the bus, I said to Andrew, “I hope you didn’t mind leaving. The fire was stressing me out a bit.”

“Oh, I didn’t even think of that!” He said.

We had a really nice dinner. Again, I can’t remember what we talked about, but I remember really enjoying the conversation and his company. At one point, I said, “thank you for bringing me here. You have really good people in your life.”

When we got back to his parents’ house, I was really happy to get into bed. I was tired and had been cold on the way home, as I didn’t have a jacket. It had been baking hot in the day, but was chilly when the sun went down.

Again, we had more silent oral sex.

We got quite an early train home on Easter Sunday morning, after I’d had another nice chat with his Mum, in their garden.

I needed to sew my dress before the wedding, and Andrew thought he needed to buy a new shirt and get his hair cut (things I had been sceptical he’d be able to do on Easter Sunday).

I sewed against the clock but did manage to finish my dress in plenty of time. I even made some flowers to go in my hair, as I hadn’t been able to buy any.

(I’d bought my dress but it was unflattering length so I took it up about 8 inches. There were no breasts on display so I wanted to at least show at bit of leg. It was quite stiff fabric and the skirt pouffed out in a 50s way, which I liked, but before I took it up, there was so much fabric, it made me look like a sail on a ship.)

On Easter Monday, I got up at the crack of dawn and got the train to Finsbury Park. The wedding was in Hertfordshire. It was one of Andrew’s police friends who was getting married. By complete coincidence, wedding was in the same town where my best friend, Leona, has just moved, so we were staying at her house.

I met Andrew at the station. He was very stressed. His wardrobe is minimal and crumpled, but he has a collection of very nice suits he’s picked up over the years, by being ushers at several weddings. Apparently he only fits into one of his suits at the moment, and when he tried it on that morning, the zip on the trousers had broken.

My friend Leona met us at the station, with her baby, who was asleep. We walked to her new house. It was surprisingly nice, given how much I’d heard about how awful it was, over the last few months. I think she’s spent every waking minute of the last year either breastfeeding or doing DIY.

After a quick catch-up and a cup of tea (and some Easter Egg), I started doing my hair and makeup for the wedding, while Leona tried to sort out Andrew’s broken zip.

I knew Leona would have loads of ideas, as she’s also really into sewing.

Initially I tried fixing the zip with pencil lead (a trick from my Dad, because graphite is a good lubricant (thankfully the only advice about lubricants my Dad has given me)) but then I was more interested in curling my hair.

Leona tried unpicking the crotch of the trousers to try and put the zipper back on from the start of the zip, then tried putting some low iron heat on to try and fuse the metal, then sewed the fly halfway up, and safety pinned the rest of the zip, but nothing worked.

Then it turned out Andrew had brought a back-up, Emergency Suit, which he thought didn’t fit. Actually, it did fit and it was nicer than the broken zip suit.

Leona drove us to where the wedding was, in the middle of the countryside. The car journey was a bit stressful, as I was sitting in the back with the baby, who screamed the whole way. Apparently the baby hates being the car.

We were driving along a country lane, past a pub, when we noticed some sort of altercation by the side of the road. One person was in handcuffs, and another person was kind of wresting with them.

“Do you mind if we pull over?” Andrew asked Leona.

She pulled over and Andrew ran over the people wrestling, getting his police badge out as he ran, with his suit flapping.

I knew that he has to have his police badge with him at all times, even when he’s off duty, and that he has to intervene if he witnesses a crime.

I couldn’t really see what was going on from the back of the car, and was still trying to stop the baby crying by fanning her with the wedding card.

He ran back over, a few minutes later, saying the person in handcuffs was apparently a sectioned mental health patient who had absconded, and the other person was a nurse. Another off duty policeman had come along and they’d said Andrew could go, as he was on his way to a wedding.

We got the wedding venue, and it was absolutely beautiful. It was a farm where they did lots of functions. It was another lovely hot sunny day. I was eager to get a nice photo of Andrew and me.

We spoke to the groom and I met him for the first time. He said, “I’ll try and talk to you later – I’ve heard a lot about you!”

I thought it was so nice of him to think about the fact we were meeting for the first time, when he clearly had bigger fish to fry.

We met a gaggle of police officers and had a quick chat, but mainly, while we waited for the ceremony to start, Andrew seemed more keen for us just to hang out on our own.

The ceremony was outdoors, under a little arch, and it was absolutely lovely. Even though I’d never met the bride and only met the groom less than an hour earlier, I welled up at several points.

Andrew and I were holding hands throughout, and when the wedding couple said their vows, I looked at him and thought, God, I really want to marry this man one day. 

10 thoughts on ““My penis doesn’t know how inappropriate this is!” 

  1. Pingback: Love happens when you’re sitting in A&E | Dater Analysis

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