When I was about 22 I was a university student living in a big city. One night in a bar I met a guy, let’s call him Hugh, we got talking and ended up exchanging numbers. I come from a comfortable (but not hugely-wealthy) middle class family and my parents live about two hours away from where I went to uni. Hugh came from a very wealthy family who had a big townhouse in one of the priciest parts of town.
Hugh’s parents were polite to me but it was quite clear that they didn’t think I was good enough to be dating their son. If I helped set the table for a family dinner it would be loudly observed that I’d put the butter knives facing in the wrong direction (I don’t mind if there’s a correct way to do something, but tell me discreetly – don’t announce it to the whole room!). When their younger daughter expressed interest in studying a similar university degree to mine (an arts course) they told her, interrupting my explanation of what was required and the types of assignments you’d need to do, that it wasn’t a proper subject and wouldn’t get her anywhere in life. If I’d stayed over at night, his mother would think nothing of marching into the bedroom the next morning and telling him it was time to get up for work whilst completely ignoring the fact that I was lying right next to him. Obviously the warning light should have come on at the idea that his mother needed to tell him to get up for work!
Anyway – about 3 months into our relationship it was New Year’s Eve. Hugh had arranged to go to a party at the country home of one of his friends which was about 30 minutes from where my parents lived and over 2 hours from the city. I had gone home to see my parents for Christmas and developed a horrible cold. There was no way I was going to a party for NY and instead stayed on my parents sofa with a good film and a blanket. Earlier that day I’d been talking to Hugh on the phone and he’d been complaining that there was nowhere for him to sleep at the party and he’d have to stay on the floor. I foolishly offered to collect him from the party once it finished and let him stay with me at my parents’ home. He’d never met my parents before, but they are very welcoming people who are happy to allow my friends to stay occasionally when I’m visiting.
So – 3am comes around and Hugh calls requesting a lift. I drive out to the party house to collect him and wait around for half an hour for him to do a prolonged leave taking of all his friends. Finally we get back to my parents’ house and I let Hugh in the front door. I tell him to be quiet because my parents are upstairs asleep and I don’t want to wake them. Hugh says he wants a glass of water so I direct him to the kitchen, which is right by the front door and tell him I’ll be there to help him as soon as I’ve taken off my boots and coat. A couple of minutes later I walk into the kitchen and am horrified to see Hugh chopping out a line of coke on my mum’s kitchen counter! I should probably point out that I have never taken drugs in my life so there’s no way Hugh should have thought this was behaviour I would condone. It took me a couple of moments to find my voice, so distressed was I that my mum might come downstairs and find some stranger taking drugs in her kitchen.
Eventually I managed to croak, “What are you doing?”, he turned around and obviously misunderstood the look of shock on my face because he very calmly said to me, “Don’t worry, I’ve cut a line for you too…”. If it hadn’t been 4am in the middle of January I’d have kicked him out there and then! 0207-11