Some people in our street about ten years back, threw a get to know the neighbours party. They seemed nice.
By about midnight, I’d committed a couple of the common, wife-annoying, social faux pas we all make from time to time – dropping a wafer-thin slice of pavlova onto the snooker table and not managing to stifle my laughter when Benny (the host) revealed to us all that he plays his ukulele and sings by himself every night.
Suddenly the front door opened and two young lads walk in, looking a bit… out of sorts. I saw one subtly slip a shiny, black, leather-bound hip flask into his back pocket.
Host Benny – “RICHARD, COME AND MEET EVERYBODY.”
It was pretty obvious Richard the son and his mate had been out on the drink and the last thing they felt like doing was chatting to oldies they’d never met.
Me – “Been out for a few cleansing ales hey boys?” Just being friendly.
Richard – “Bible study.”
That was a witty retort from Richard, but he delivered it in an arrogant, dismissive, twenty’ish-year-old way and smiled to his mate.
It annoyed me. I knew they’d been out drinking, I wasn’t going to judge them in front of all those people I didn’t know (I was in no position to), but why did he have to answer as if to say you’re all too old to understand having a good time, so we’ll just call it bible study.
Me – “Seriously boys, where have you been?” I was trying to be polite, but was not prepared to play the old fool role.
Richard – “Bible study.” He winked at his mate!
That was too much. He’d been out drinking. I knew it. He knew I knew it, but nobody else seemed to know it!
Me – “Rich, you and your mate have been out on the piss. No twenty something-year-old lads go to bible study at midnight on a Saturday. So don’t come in here with your bull. The boozer? A mate’s house? Out with some ladies?”
Richard – “Bible study.”
Me (in my best mocking tone) – “Oh riiiiight, biiiible study. Well why didn’t you say so Rich?? That’s what we’ve been doing tonight too!” I pointed to my beer. “Yep, had about five hours of intense bible study so far. I’m as studied up as a newt! If I do any more bible study, I’ll be sick as a dog tomorrow. I’m actually backing up because last night I went out with a half a dozen mates, I think we had about ten schooners each of bible study.”
This went on for a little while. Unfortunately, it turned out that Richard and his friend, had indeed been at bible study that night.
My wife – “Time to go Jase.”
Me – “THAT’S NOT MY FAULT! What twenty two-year-olds study bible ON A SATURDAY NIGHT??”
The two young lads started up the stairs and then, even through my foggy mind I remembered… the hip flask!
It was my smoking gun. My one-armed man.
Me – “BEFORE YOU GO RICHARD.” I had to speak loudly, as they were halfway up the stairs and truth be told I wanted everybody to hear my vindication.
Richard – “Yeees?”
Me – “NOTHING REALLY. I JUST THOUGHT I’D ASK… WHAT’S IN YOUR BACK POCKET?”
Little Richard looked stunned.
Host Benny – “Richard?”
Me – “WHAT YOU GOT BACK THERE RICH? SOMETHING FROM BIBLE STUDY??” Squirm son, squirm!
He reached into his back pocket, very hesitantly.
I felt like throwing up my hands in victory. However, the moral high ground beckoned. I wasn’t going to gloat. I was better than that.
Richard, slowly, pulled out a shiny, black, leather-bound… bible.
We weren’t invited back to their house.