Fabulous Friday again, and a mum/daughter day with my lovely mum. We had a mooch at the shops and then headed to Pizza Express for lunch. We’d just settled down at our table and ordered our drinks when mum remarked that the restaurant was starting to fill up. I glanced behind me towards the door and noticed a familiar face in the queue – my brother! Mum spotted him just at the same time and we both said “Oh look!” And then immediately thought “We’d better not make a fuss and embarrass him”. It was like he was an awkward 17 year old out with his mates and we were in danger of seriously ruining his street cred. Right on cue he noticed us gawping, turned to his colleague and muttered something. Back in the day it would not doubt have incorporated the words: mum, sister, for gods sake, embarrassing. But given that he is now 45 I would like to think it was a bit more along the lines of: mum, sister, quick hello, coincidence.
He, of course, came straight over to say hello, but there was definitely a distinct déjà vu moment and I found myself taking real care to be cool and not leap up and hug him. It transpired that he was there with a group of colleagues (he works nearby) for someone’s leaving lunch (very sensible and grown up) and they were seated just across from us. We were very good and didn’t detain him, and the whole moment lasted less than a few minutes. He rejoined his group and we enjoyed our respective lunches. But it really struck me how we still seem to revert to our age old roles from our childhood.
It was never cool, having a little sister. Instead, I was very much a source of embarrassment – particularly walking to school to shouts of “Oi, Paul, is that your girlfriend?!” – a fact which I was very much aware of and tried very hard not to make worse (unless I was feeling particularly cruel, which did happen now and again). I tried not to go near him at school (he would nod in my direction if he saw me but rarely spoke), and in our late teens I ensured that I frequented different pubs to him. In our early twenties our paths crossed a bit more and I was, from time to time, “invited” along to the odd night out and we even went to a U2 concert together with a couple of his friends (during which I almost fainted and had to be escorted by his friend to the St Johns Ambulance people – probably reaffirming his belief that we shouldn’t socialise). But, there was always that unwritten understanding that I was not to embarrass him in any way.
And that’s how it felt today. Like he was the acne-afflicted, very self conscious teen and I was the uncool, still-going-everywhere-with-mum, giggly little sister. His slightly off centre, slightly awkward smile was there and he was clearly glad that we hadn’t made a show of him.
As we were getting up to leave, so were his group and we had another moment of “oh god, do we go and say goodbye?!” Thankfully we caught his eye and managed a discreet wave as he was left waiting to pay the bill. Again, reverting to type – he was always the dad of the group and could be relied on to sort out lifts home or to have change for the phone. We may get older but I don’t think we ever really grow up!