Only the two (bottles of Smirnoff Ice....)
Sometimes the voices get to be too much. For me at least if not for you. The old interior dialogue. Conflicting voices, urgent choices you can't decide on because of the conflicting.... Do you, ought you to, forbid your teenager Alcohol, ecstatic bacchanals, for the duration? Should you try your damndest to enforce that or ought you to simply go with the alcoholic flow. Might you maybe label her a learner drinker, and give speeches on moderation? Extract promises of just the two bottles of smirnoff ice, perhaps? Even though you know you know she would agree that black is yellow and the world is flat, her mind completely elsewhere, her fingers dancing across the keyboard of her phone.
you promised me.....
Yeah, I have released the boss from house arrest and let her back on the party circuit, the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth birthday party merrygoround.
"So right, I have decided ...not to, like, bother with drinking at parties, anymore" she tells me. "No interest in that. Why would you even ask me that. I have decided". Right.
(killing me) softly.....
That was last weekend, after one month's abstinence from gaiety. A long black month, dear reader, where she watched nordic subtitled television with me on former party nights, spent long hours playing pensive Piano Pieces over and over, and one in particular, the soundtrack from the last Pride and Prejudice movie, with exquisite precision and passion, each note bearing an increasing load of lugubrious hopelessness as the month went on. 'Oh God oh God get her off the piano," the beautiful one begged on Sunday. "I can't bear it, I can't stand it any more. Make her stop."
Ah yes, the beautiful girl, who, when her adolescent heart was particularly broken, harrowed us with exquisitely tender and heartbroken renditions of Clare de Lune over and over and over. Hah.
People gave me Vodka....
It all began one Saturday night, into the small hours of Sunday to be precise. The door bell ripped me from an uneasy sleep, and stumbling downstairs I beheld a shivering whey faced girl, spittle on her chin, shoes in hand, vomit dripping from the glittery straps. She had no clue how to go about operating her key you see, she was too far gone and only fit to be put to bed. In the morning I extract a confession from the hungover one... too many vodkas to count...poeple gave her vodka....all her friends were having vodka, it was the vodka ...and so she was reduced to that vomiting gurning state. A complete one off, of course, she claimed.
I think about this while she sleeps it off. The day before, shopping for a party dress with her lovely girls, the effervescent pre-party getting ready party in my house, the giddy anticipation in them. I see myself gather them into the car to take them to the party person's house, enjoying the happy chattery air of them as I drove. What harm sure?
But then, you see, the party house was deep down a rabbit warren of county roads.
"'Phone her, for gods sake phone her! Phone her now" I shout coming to yet another pitch dark dead end.
"Um, yeah, I can't make out... I don't understand her!"
"Put her on speaker phone, put her on speaker phone Tell her to tell me"
And so she did and all I can say to you my friends is that what I heard should have sent me flying home again with all my lovely party girls intact. Amplified, behind the babbling girl on the boss's phone incoherently failing to describe where she lived, were screams, sloppy howling laughter, and some one being very very sick. A little vignette, a trailer of hell, as it were.
The boss turned off the speaker then, and we found the place unaided soon after.
but everything will be all....
I left them there. I told my self that that was just a loose few randomers, the boss and her girls they wouldn't be doing any of that. Because the alternative was just to disturbing to entertain.
The fact is though that that was taking place in some one's house. Those children couldn't do it on a licenced premises. I think of the many many people in the boss's school next up for 16th, 17th, 18th parties, all in someone's house. Parents, caregivers, confined, no, banished to the bedroom, or some other corner of the house with orders to stay until the party's over. What harm sure everyones doing it, yeah. If you don't let them someone else will, no? Better you have them where you can keep an eye, (from where you lurk in some far corner of your house), yeah. I've heard all the arguments, hell, I've made all the arguments. It doesn't seem that any one of us knows how to call this, beyond a bit of self soothing denial, so let me hoist you from your comfort zone, dear reader...
The things is this. Your teenager and mine are drinking industrial amounts of alcohol every weekend. In your house or in mine. Enough to fell a full grown man. It's dodgy to be drinking at all at that age. At all. I sat watching them from the car last night, delivered for another bacchanal, girls in tiny dresses, bare legs blanched with cold, boys and girls bearing crates of booze, converging on the party house. Ah Bless.
IT'S JUST A TOUCH OF THE OLD BRAIN DAMAGE, PEOPLE.
Brain damage I offer the Boss. Your mighty brain my darling girl, blunted! a bit off! permanently! by the time you reach eighteen. But never you mind, the rest of 'em will be in the very same condition and absolutely won't notice. A thing. Nobody will mind. Down this neck of the woods. I run this by her as she argues passionately against the grounding, with promises of abstention, moderation.
I guess it was on account of the brain damage that she accept the month's grounding. Cruel exclusion from the social circuit with the beloved friends...she felt it cruelly.
And now she's released and already decided that abstinence is just so over the top. I know. I'm asked to buy her two cans ( Orchard Thieves) as insurance she won't be drinking some vomit inducing concoction of spirits given to the empty handed at parties. Yeah. Well.. you make your speeches, you draw your line in the sand, and then they implicate you...every time. Or maybe I could ground her more, ramp up the social exclusion. Did I mention the voices, the infernal, internal monologue of parenting?
Did someone in here ask me something...want something...need...? I'm all yours... now?
On Friday, I snap my laptop shut, my novel finished at last.
"So I'm, basically, finished now, and...what was that you all wanted" I ask the children, gathered in the kitchen, talking amongst themselves. Someone called me at least an hour before, I think, wanting... something, I have no idea what that was. I used to snigger at the Cyril Connolly quote about the pram in the hall being the sombre enemy of good art (well writing anyway), made by a man who wouldn't have been burdened by any of the heavy lifting with children I was pretty damn sure. But this, at least, is true. The total immersion required in writing is inimical to caring for children. And how they hate it, pitifully anxious in that complete absence of attention. Even if they don't want anything in particular. Even if they don't need you, as it happens, just right now. Even if they're old enough to get whatever it was they wanted for themselves. They hate it anyway. They cannot bear your absence.
Oh well, you can work around it, write when they sleep, or are at parties! Get the damn thing finished so you're everyone's again. Until the next time... you can feel another story coming on...