I have a chequered history with my assorted neighbours. I’ve suspected them of breeding changelings. I’ve screamed at them for throwing wild parties. I’ve lost a week’s worth of their mail that I was entrusted to collect.
You’d think I’d have learned my lesson. But no. I am 44 years old and not one bit wiser about neighbourly relations.
I have transgressed again.
Friends who live across the road invited the Household to dinner on Saturday night. I had a clean slate with this lot. I hadn’t suspected them of breeding changelings, screamed at them for throwing wild parties or lost their mail. I’m pretty sure they thought I was a nice, normal, responsible member of society.
They invited Sprog 1′s new best friend and her family to join us for dinner. It turns out they’re mates. A handy meet and greet for everyone.
We were due at their place at 4.30pm. At 1pm, we popped across town to welcome home an old friend after an expat stint overseas. She’d had a bugger of a move and fancied a champers to take the edge off. A little voice inside my head tried to remind me that nothing good ever comes of me drinking during the day. I told it to shut up. Cheers!
When the champers was gone we started on a bottle of white wine. Husband was driving, so he showed restraint and stuck to a beer. I wobbled out the front door around 4ish, plastered.
I tottered through the neighbours’ front door and was greeted with a glass of champagne. Commonsense should have suggested a glass of water, but it had gone cross-eyed from alcohol abuse and left me to my own devices.
When the champers was finished, a bottle of Turkey Flat rose was opened. I am powerless in the face of Turkey Flat rose. Turkey Flat rose is delicious. So I had some of that too.
And I suddenly started feeling a bit terrible. Greenish. Dizzy.
I adjourned to the bathroom to slump on the floor. I stuck my fingers down my throat in an attempt to relieve the nausea. I managed a bit of a spew, but it didn’t really take the edge off. (I’d make a hopeless bulimic.) I decided I’d better return to the dinner table lest someone find my extended absence odd. A plate of food was placed before me. Lamb and salad and a beetrooty dish and roast potatoes.
I stared at my plate for a long time. I attempted to nibble a lettuce leaf. My stomach lurched. I finally conceded dinner was beyond me. (Apparently I loudly announced I couldn’t even bear the smell of it. Oh, god, no, I didn’t … Did I?)
I’m not exactly sure how I made the call. But the call was made. I had to go home. A very busy road lies between our house and the neighbours, so Husband walked me across it, to make sure I didn’t become roadkill. I said “I’m so sorry, I’m so ashamed” a lot. Husband informs me I also sobbed loudly. I don’t remember that bit. I don’t remember much at all, other than the bowl of warm, salty almonds that I was hoovering up between gulps of champagne. Husband ushered me in the front door then returned to his lamb.
I stumbled drunkenly into the backyard to put the chooks away. Then I passed out in bed. At 8pm on a Saturday night.
I woke at 1.30am, feeling like death. And deeply, deeply ashamed. I drank lots of belated water and popped a few Panadols. I returned to bed and mentally flagellated myself for being such an appalling dinner guest. Then I mentally flagellated myself for making such a dreadful impression on Sprog 1′s best friend’s parents. I added some extra mental flagellation for being stupid enough to drink so much. And I agonised over whether I’d imagined stumbling drunkenly in the darkness to put the chooks away. What if they were killed in their bed by foxes? I felt too sick to check.
I eventually fell asleep again, waking around 5.30am and lying very, very still for the next hour, fearing that the slightest movement might kick off another bout of nausea.
I wondered how to apologise to the neighbours. Text message, email, phone call … then I realised I would be doing it in person because Sprog 1 had stayed behind for a sleepover. Hurrah, a face-to-face apology, my favourite kind.
At 6.30am I got up and started baking. As you do with a crashing hangover. I wanted to make something to take as a shame offering. I baked pumpkin and ginger beer scones. They were tough as old boots. So I tried a batch of ginger beer muffins. They were quite nice. I was cranky about the tough scones, so I made some more. The dough was a bit sticky, but they weren’t tough. I decided to take the muffins, slightly more crowd-friendly than pumpkin and ginger beer scones.
The neighbours were very nice about my disgraceful behaviour. Well, it’s not like they could sneer and call me a rude, thoughtless lush. At least, not to my face.
God I’m an idiot sometimes.
I’m now agonising over how to tackle Sprog 1′s best friend’s parents. Do I pretend it didn’t happen? Do I bake them something? There’s a playdate scheduled for this Friday. Will they be concerned about their daughter spending time at a rude, thoughtless lush’s house. Will they fret that I can’t be trusted behind the wheel?
The shame! The shame! The shame!