Did I tell you the one about the werewolf, the cul-de-sac in suburbia, and the courting couple?
Well, the story starts one weekday evening, back in the Eighties, with my mother furiously attempting to rid the lounge window of the coating of dust produced by the crematorium opposite.
“Ych a fi” she says, her face like a cat's bum. “No self-respect.”
I follow her gaze to the lay-by outside the cemetery gates, where two teenagers are busy sucking each other’s faces off in the front seat of a green Ford Cortina. I am almost fourteen at the time – but my experience of open mouth kissing is limited to the time Great Auntie Maud launched her tongue into my mouth thinking I was her dead husband, the great big lezzer - so I lean into the window to get a better view.
“They’re only snogging”, I conclude.
For my mother, however, there is no such thing as “only snogging”. Snogging involves EXACTLY the same level of risk as eating your dinner straight off the toilet seats in Castle Gardens where the tramps live, or injecting yourself in the face with pure, molten AIDS. It is also signals that you are probably *said in a low whispering tone audible only to bats, god, and The Neighbours* "LOOSE".
“God only knows where you’ve come from”, she says, shaking her head at me.
She turns to the window to attack the dust again, but the scene from the car is too much for her. Already, first base has given way to second base; to a degree of teenage flesh-mongering and upper body fondling that is, frankly, unpalatable.
“David! You need to do something!” she yells.
My father hurries into the lounge, the look of guilt on his face suggesting he has been indulging his all-time favourite pastime of standing in the hallway, staring into the middle distance.
“Get rid of them”, she says, pointing at the Cortina. “It’s disgusting!”
Ten minutes later, my father reappears in the lounge, this time wearing the white laboratory coat he wears to work. This if baffling enough as it is, but the fact he has accessorised it with a BIG FUCK-OFF WEREWOLF MASK means that for a few long minutes, nothing in the world makes any sense.
“Why are you dressed like that?” says my mother, finally.
“I tried the vampire one”, says my father. “But this one looks better with the coat."
The werewolf mask, gifted to us by a cousin who runs a fancy dress stall in Carmarthen, is an all-over latex hood, with wrinkled cadaverous skin, a muzzle that is matted with stage blood, and lifelike strawberry-blonde hair backcombed to within an inch of its life. In a certain light, you'd be forgiven for thinking, "What in the name of cowing fuck is Bonnie Tyler doing in that lab coat?"
My mother is as yet unconvinced. "It’s getting dark though”, she says. “You won’t be able to see properly with that thing on. Just knock on the window and tell them off!”
“I’ll be fine!” he says. “It’s just a bit of fun!”
|Bonnie Tyler mask. (Image by Jack Mooney)|
We watch from the lounge window as my father emerges from the back lane that runs the length of our houses. He looks in our direction for approval, before crossing the road towards the cemetery.
“He’s going to trip on the paving”, says my mother. “Bloody idiot.”
Meanwhile, things are stepping up a gear in the Ford Cortina. The boy in the driver’s seat is covering more ground, though when I say ground, I mean tits. My father creeps towards them along the cemetery's perimeter walls. When he reaches the nearside of the Cortina, he ducks down. Knocks on the driver’s side window. For a moment, nothing happens. Maybe the mask isn't good enough. Maybe they’re both thinking, “Bonnie Tyler looks like absolute fucking shit tonight.” But then, in the next instant, the girl’s jaw drops, her pupils spread. She looks like the guy on the bridge in The Scream - but with a scrunchie. And although I can’t remember the boy’s face, I do remember the panicky revving tones; the lurch of the chassis as it stalls; the way the car finally hurtles past our window towards the junction.
“Bloody well done”, says my mother, when my father lets himself in through the back door.
"Sweating buckets", says my father, tearing the hood off.
His shoulders are angled downwards, hinting at dissatisfaction. I can tell that he’d wanted them to see through the whole vigilante lycanthrope routine and recognise it as a sidesplitting example of suburban pranking.
“I’ll have to wash it. I don’t want the rubber perishing”, says my mother, grabbing the hood from him.
“It was funny though, right?” says my father, looking at us.
We nod. Because we love our dad, and he IS funny. In a what-the-fuck-are-you-doing-now-you-absolute-mentalist kind of way.
“The look on the girl’s face was priceless!” says my mother. “Priceless!”
My father draws my mother towards him. Within seconds, they are frenching it, playing tonsil hockey, snogging; celebrating their moral victory with an ironic pastiche designed to introduce the notion that the proper context for snogging is, in fact, the kitchen, under a twitching fluorescent strip light, in front of your appalled children. Obviously.
Either that or the teenagers have given them ideas.