Richard Ord: The perils of a teenage party

Our columnist talks about teenage parties.
Our columnist talks about teenage parties.

Our eldest son turned 17 and asked if he could have a party with his friends at our house.

As the reasoned voice of sanity in our home I told him “over my dead body.”

I didn’t see the knife, but it was swift and caught me right between the shoulder blades.

It was a metaphorical knife, of course, and was wielded by my wife.

“Of course you can have a party at our house son,” she told him. “But we have to be strict on the numbers.”

I reckoned on about five guests, handpicked by me and the wife, ought to reduce the chances of bother.

We could interview them over the course of a month, checking references and getting them to sign a good behaviour agreement. A deposit of £40 seemed fair to me too.

“Stick to no more than 30,” she said. “You can have your party as soon as you like.”

I’ve got used to being ignored. It comes with the territory. I’m a kind of background noise. Like elevator muzak.

But not only am I not heard, I’m also not told anything. For the last 18 years of marriage, I am just expected to pick up information.

My wife will often suddenly question why I’m not getting dressed. “We’ve got guests tonight,” she’ll say.

“Well, no one told me,” I’ll reply, only be to be told: “You were in the room when I arranged it on the phone.”

Like I listen to what my wife says over the phone.

I think women expect men to hang onto their every word. Either that, or they think we simply absorb their thoughts just by being near them. It certainly can’t be as simple as us forgetting what we’re told.

Anyway, 30 rampant teenagers in the house, what could possibly go wrong?

It was if my wife had forgotten what it was like to be a teen. Maybe it’s a woman thing. They have short memories. I mean, despite the trauma of childbirth, they always seem quite happy to go through it again. Clearly the teenage parties she went to were nothing like the ones I attended or she’d never have agreed to our Bradley having one. Still, should anything go wrong, I would blame-free. I’d been overruled and, anyway, I was out that night, so she would be in charge.

The seeds of concern were planted later in the week when I bumped into a pal at the gym. With a furrowed brow he asked if it was true that we were allowing Bradley to have a party at our house.

“Yes,” I told him, “But we’re being strict on numbers.” He flashed a quizzical look. “I’ve heard there’s 50 going.”

Turned out his son had been invited and that word on the street was that 50 were going. I questioned Bradley.

“Yes,” he said. “There’s 50 been invited, but not everyone will turn up.”

Needless to say, 50 turned up and carnage ensued.

It gave me absolutely no pleasure whatsoever to tell my wife “I told you so.” At first.

On telling her for the 30th time this week, I’m rather starting to enjoy it.