Nan has only told me off three times in my life; not because I am perfect (I say mock-modestly...), but because she loves me unconditionally. The three occasions remain etched in my mind; at the time I was resentful, but each occasion provided useful life lessons.
Nan was the consummate flirt - no man of any age or condition was safe and this included my boyfriends. They had to be inspected by her - think Salome eyeballing John the Baptist's head. One of her favourites was the Rugby Player (hereafter RP).
I first saw RP dancing with his RE teacher at an inter-schools function; having admired his moves from afar I managed to jostle her out of the way - playing defence in the hockey team came in useful occasionally. RP was kind, well mannered and extremely large - picture The Incredible Hulk - but not green. He was also useful to have around the house; for example when the spin dryer broke he could wring the clothes out so they were almost dry (including jeans). Everyone liked him and Nan loved him, feeding him a constant supply of food and asking to feel his triceps at least twice per visit - he just lapped this up.
I was concerned how she would cope when we split up as there was a certain inevitability about it because:
1). I was fed up watching rugby; I would get cold and, despite repeated explanations, I was never sure what was going on.
2). He had blond hair and I was only really attracted to blokes with dark hair. When I met him it was in a dimly lit room and I was dazzled by the dancing ...
3). He started wearing similar clothes to me; jeans and t-shirts weren't such an issue, but when he said it would be cute if we wore the same coloured jumpers I realised we were to be no Burton/Taylor, Dante/Beatrice, Abelard/Heloise (I bet he was glad it wasn't the last pair).
The end came one Saturday when I was at my part-time job in the jeans shop. The pressure to sell was intense; anyone bottom of the sales league for two weeks running got the sack. RP, being a good soul, comes in to ensure I made at least one sale. I disappear into the store room to find something to fit him - rugby, like fencing, strangely inflates the thighs. When I reappear he is in a changing cubicle; one of my colleagues says RP wants to surprise me. He pushes open the cubicle doors and emerges clad in a pair of Lee dungarees that exactly match the ones I am wearing (a good look with striped t-shirt and plimsolls - but in my opinion only for girls) and says something cheesy like 'Hey babe, now we can look like twins.'
I am speechless. I do not want to be the twin - I want to be unique - and I want a boyfriend who looks like a bloke instead of a super-sized toddler. Increasingly desperate I suggest a pair of Levis might be a little more appropriate, but he insist on buying the dungarees.
I go to Nan's, weep a little and tell her it is all over. For only the third time in my life she tells me off because I am being picky (she wouldn't be saying that if she had seen what I'd seen), I am shallow and who would be a stand-in for the spin dryer next time it broke? But her main complaint was that she had packets and packets of the biscuits that only RP would eat and what was she supposed to do with them?
The lessons I have learnt from this:
Do not make immediate relationship decisions based on ability to dance. Dancing is an ephemeral pleasure and does not generally lead to long term happiness.
Always take prospective boyfriends to a well-lit room to inspect hair colour (hats to be removed if worn).
Casually mention dungarees on men and see if his eyes light up.