‘How was your weekend away?’ my colleague said to me on Monday morning.
I sighed. ‘I haven’t laughed that hard, and for that long, since- well. Since the last time I was at mum and dad’s,’ I replied.
‘Oh,’ he said. ‘That says a lot about how you feel about us lot then, doesn’t it?’
Which isn’t quite what I meant except maybe it was, because I was totally pissed off that day that nobody at work was Mum or Dad or Calum or even just from Derby. Which is something I never thought I’d say.
She Skyped me at lunch. ‘Is it shitty without me?’ she said.
‘Good. I left you a Babybel and some Sprite in the fridge in case you felt sad today.’
I pulled out the food from the staff room cool-box. ‘Thanks,’ I said with my mouth full with cheese and gratitude.
‘Hey,’ she reminded me. ‘Remember that time you saw my nipples?’
I laughed and felt better.
My Pregnant Friend had told me for the past nine months about how her nipples were getting bigger and bigger, and darker and darker, and that she felt like an African from a Live Aid video. We agreed that she would show them to me on the day she left, because she really wanted to share them with somebody who wasn’t her husband, and last Friday she was saying her goodbyes so I knew that after months of threatening it, the show was imminent.
‘Now’s the time,’ she’d said in the staff room.
My other friend had said, ‘Time for what?’
‘Time for my African nipples,’ she’d said, and before I knew it nipples the size of actual espresso saucers and dark as the mole I have in the palm of my left hand were like, RIGHT THERE. In my face. Winking.
‘Fuuuuuuuck,’ I’d said.
My other friend had turned around to see if she was in danger of exposing herself to more than planned and said, ‘Compare those to mine, mine are SO pink and tiny!’
And then there were more boobs and nipples IN THE STAFF ROOM AT WORK WHERE THE WALLS ARE GLASS AND EVERYONE CAN SEE! And for the first time in my life I was embarrassed, and didn’t know where to look. Suddenly four boobs were out at the same time, and one pair were tiny, and shiny, and pink, and the others were full of milk, with a low swing, and SPACESHIPS OF BROWN, and WHY CAN’T WORK BE THIS FUN EVERY DAY?
I almost wanted to whip out my own puppies, sat in the staff room Monday afternoon, suddenly more alone than I had felt in a long time- moody, and sad, and pathetic.
I tried to tell people at work the funny stories about why mum and dad are fun, and how we did laughing, and how just when I thought there couldn’t be more fun there was- and OHMYGOD WHY AREN’T YOU LAUGHING AT WHAT I AM TELLING YOU? Mum says words wrong! Dad can’t hear properly! My brother did a joke! THE DOG FARTED!
When nobody understood, I sat in that staff room all alone, and I thought about jokes and nipples and I took a breath and did it. I took a little peek at my own boobs under my top. It felt naughty. I smiled a little bit.
Just a little bit.
And I felt better for it. All The Feelings ebbed millimetres back. The fog of my happiness hangover lifted slightly. I took another peek.
My boobs cheered me up.
And yes, that is the end of my story.