What’s with a world where a girl can’t wear a brand new pair of underpants and be confident of having the Best Day Ever?
I mean, I slipped on a spanking new pair the other day and I felt great. Like really great. Merely because I wasn’t wearing something that made my bum resemble an elephant’s arse: all saggy, baggy and grey.
Yes siree. Those new undies should have automatically reserved my right to have a Great Day. And not just a great day but a “Fucking Great Day” – you know, one of those days that earn you the right to swear, it’s that great.
And certainly not the kind of day where I end up in tears on the phone to the police because my husband appears to have gone missing.
“How does something like that happen, NDM?” I can hear the people ask. “How does a grown man, riding a bicycle home in wet weather, leave work at, say, 2pm and neglect to ring his wife before, say, 7:20pm? For example.”
My husband had said (he said!) he was going to do some Box Ted on his way home that fateful afternoon. At about 5:45pm, I thought “Sheesh? How long does it take to draw that stupid talking cupboard? It’s just a square!” and I began to worry. I rang him on his mobile: it was switched off. I rang his work: he’d left at the normal time. I rang KT.
“I’m worried,” I said, having explained the situation.
“I’m worried, too,” she said.
Now I was really worried. I usually count on KT to counterbalance any irrational anxiety I have with a “it’s all okay” or even a “get your hand off it, NDM”.
“Ring me back if he’s not home in an hour,” she said.
I agreed but an hour seemed like an impossibly long time to wait. I couldn’t concentrate and began pacing around the house. I kept going out to the now-dark street in the hope of seeing his bicycle light coming along the street. All those bloody “Work Safe” ads started playing in my head and, with them, that Dido song. And it certainly didn’t help that the kids kept asking where daddy was Every. Five. Seconds.
At 6:43 (not quite the full hour), I rang KT again. With her help, I set myself a new target: ring the police and/or hospitals if he wasn’t home by 7:30pm.
At 7:15pm, I cracked and rang the police. I’ve never had to ring the police before. My phone call started well: “Uh, good evening. I was wondering if you could help me. [voice modulates a few octaves higher at this point:] My husband hasn’t come uh-uh-uh-uh home: Blabhblblbabh blabhalllbaahhhh waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”
The young policeman (he was young, they’re always young when these things happen on the telly) dealt with me very sensitively. They must get training for this, right? Dealing with women hysterically sobbing because their husband/child/handbag/car/ability-to-talk-in-a-normal-tone-of-voice appears to have gone missing?
The policeman took down my husband’s details and gently suggested that I check his usual route home in the car, ring the hospitals and then ring the police again if he wasn’t back until morning.
I hung up, thinking I’d literally stop breathing if I had to wait until morning. And what could I possibly see along his normal route home? Would there be a chance he was sitting by the road, in the dark and drizzle, just having a little think to himself? Or did he mean to check actual places along the way where he might have stopped such as cafes, shops, opium dens, houses of ill-repute and…. pubs.
As if on cue, my mobile rang and it was at last my husband, telling me he’d gone to the pub with one of his more notorious workmates, had his phone switched off and had “lost track of time”.
At which point, I became one of those women who express their relief and love by shouting very loudly indeed and dropping an F cluster bomb or two, with their children well within earshot.
For the record, my husband was incredibly sorry when he got home. And for the record, too, I was very nice to him, my anger having dissolved into pure relief and the happy knowledge that I had just earned myself a two-week artist-in-residency on the Moral High Ground. So, in a strange kind of way, it was a New Underpants Day after all.