We were sitting in the car at Calais docks, third in the queue, tired, uncomfortable and covered in baby puke. Seven hours driving in the July heat, the car stank, we stank, the baby stank. The baby was to blame. Babies are always to blame.
"I stink," I complained.
"Why don't you get changed?" replied my wife.
"Sure, I'll keep watch, you'll feel much better."
She was right. I would feel much better. Not that getting changed was straightforward. There were lanes of cars either side of ours, people were milling about, impatient with the delay. Small children running, smokers smoking, dogs yapping and elderly folk getting up to their usual mischief. To complicated things further I was wearing my swim shorts. You know, surf shorts with a sort of netted lining, the type you don't wear underwear with. I had worn them to make the drive more comfortable, not envisaging a scenario where I would be getting changed in the car.
"OK," I said, the thought of feeling fresh and clean spurred me on. My thoughtful wife had packed a change of clothes in our day bag, and after several hours engulfed in the stench of regurgitated milk I was ready for anything.
I unfolded my jeans and boxers, placed the boxers on top of the jeans and waited for my wife's signal.
"All clear," she said.
"Watch out," she warned, as an old man wandered by.
I grabbed my boxers and covered myself. When he had passed (and oh how slow he was walking) I battled with my boxers. It's surprisingly difficult to get them on quickly when you have a damn steering wheel in the way, a pair of shorts tangled round your feet and the fear of little Mo being seen by a dock attendant. As I muttered, cursed, and sweated like a badger, my wife got the giggles. You simply cannot trust women.
Someone got out of the neighbouring car. I grabbed the map and pretended to be studying it. The twit lingered for a moment, looking about aimlessly before finally lumbering off. With a final flurry of activity, muttering, scrambling and panicking, I got my jeans on.
Thirty minutes later we were in the "family room" on the ferry. Our just-crawling baby crawled up to me. I scooped her up, held her above me as she squealed with excitement, then lowered her down to give her a kiss and a cuddle. Just as I kissed her she puked, with all the force of an exploding hydrant. It went in my mouth, all over my t-shirt, and down my jeans.
On the plus side, I experienced irony on a new level.
A helping hand, ca. 1910s
3 hours ago