24 April 2006

My dad, my rabbit, and my first girlfriend

I just have to tell this story. It's one of my favourite anecdotes.

There comes a time in a relationship when you have to meet the parents of your partner. Now, most people dread this time, but not me; I get on well with parents. To be honest, I often get on better with parents than I do their daughters (not like that, you filthy buggers). But there was a time when I'd never gone through that, and my dad had never met a girlfriend of mine.

So the day came that Dad invited my first girlfriend round for tea, and she nervously accepted. Once she'd arrived, the nerves dissipated; both my brother and dad are easy to get on with, and they soon all found the common ground of winding me up over which to bond.

All the old stories came out over tea. One of the favourites - and one for another time - was my brother hitting me in the head with an axe. Oh how we laughed at my potential brain damage. This got us on the subject of scars, which inevitably led to the story about my rabbit.

Basically, I had a pet rabbit which one day went utterly mental and bit me, hard, on the end of my finger. It went all nasty and I have a scar to this day - some 20 years later. Now, the details are lost in the mists of time; my brother insists I must have been poking it, while I insist it had gone insane in some way. This theory was backed up by the fact that during the night of the incident, the rabbit managed to escape the run to go to live in the woods.

It was at this point in the story that my dad interjected. "You don't still believe that, do you?"

Well, of course we do. That's what you told us.

"Actually," explained dad - and please bear in mind at this point he's sitting right next to my first ever girlfriend, who's still a little nervous - "I was so upset the rabbit had hurt you that badly I went out that night, wrung its neck, and buried it in the garden".

There was a clatter of dropped cutlery at this point.

Now - brushing aside the possible cruelty aspect here (if it was a dog, they'd have put it down) - what was most shocking was that my dad was sitting next to my first love, basically saying to her "this is what happens if you hurt my son". It was both incredibly reassuring - my dad cares for me enough to kill to protect me - and yet incredibly scary. My dad cares for me enough to kill to protect me.

We had to quickly check the fate of some other pets - we've been assured that the dog really, really did go to live on a farm. All gerbils died of natural causes, and having received nothing more than a nasty suck from our goldfish, I wasn't worried about them.

Still, we did see Dad in a new light - as some kind of bizarre fen-based Mafia enforcer. Rather than "sleeping with the fishes", his enemies "went to live in the woods".

All my exes are still fine, although I can't be sure if future breakups will coincide with a new patio at Dad's house. You just don't mess with Don Maltpress's sons.

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