I haven’t seen them for some time, you must understand. In her case easily a year; in his, not much less.
And I’m a bloke. Details of who’s seeing whom, who’s pregnant by whom and who’s split from whom, have a tendency to exit one ear as fast as they entered the other one. A flaw in my social skills that was always likely to be horribly exposed in this age of fragmented families and the shifting sands of once solid titles like ‘Mum’, ‘Dad’ and ‘Uncle’.
So when the two of them approached yesterday, even a social dullard like me picked up on the fact that the toddler in her arms wasn’t on the scene last time I saw them together.
After a few moments of catching-up pleasantries, I’m introduced to him.
“Meet our new addition to the family,” she says.
Interesting, I think, I’d thought her child-bearing days were behind her. Ah well, modern medicine and all that.
“What a lovely little chap,” I say, “and doesn’t he look like his mummy?”
The air suddenly develops a slight chill. “I’ll take that as a compliment,” she says stiffly. “He’s adopted.”
iPhone; we have a problem.
While I’m not yet into app culture, I reflected afterwards that if those who create them could come up with something that makes embarrassing moments like this a thing of the past, I’m upgrading my cellphone tomorrow.
Call it the Fragmentogram. You see two vaguely-familiar people with children approaching, you point your phone at them and it gives you something like this:
“Bob and Sheila. You met at Dougie’s 50th, 18 months ago, when both with different partners. His split amicable, hers messy. Don’t mention secretaries. Co-habited since January but he has commitment issues. Both kids hers, he can’t have any. One on right has learning difficulties – don’t stare.”
Seriously, make the damn thing and name your price. I’ll be the guy leading the stampede.