“We had the Drugs Conversation,” I say.
“What? Already?” says Beatnik Dad. Our boys are nine, after all.
“Yes,” I say. “Kurtzhau’s been reading the Cherub series and they go after drugs dealers.”
We stop to wave at Artist Mum walking a striking canine combination of a long-legged greyhound plus a scurrying… whippet?
(I should mention that we’re sitting in a coffee shop in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh. The area is an inner-city cluster of scruffy Victorian tenements where, by some quirk of socio-economics, successful-in-their-field but basically-not-wealthy Bohemians come to breed. Beatnik Dad, who started his family later in life, is a veteran performance poet, occasional illustrator, and art historian. Other fellow parents include journalists, photographers, at least two professional writers and several promising wannabes, a rock musician, more artists, and a film producer.)
“So how did it go – the conversation?”
“We talked about the long term effects of cannabis then Kurtzhau asked me whether I’d smoked it.”
“I told him the truth – a couple of times to see what it was like. He asked if I enjoyed it. I said it made me talk more. He just nodded sagely.”
Beatnik Dad laughs. He’s known me a long time now.
It would be nice to think that Middle Age mellows an extrovert’s persona to a cool perfection. Alas, we don’t stop being who we are; we just get better at picking friends who tolerate or even relish our spontaneity.
We segue to the challenge of raising teenagers in a world where the Internet is forever, and how it’s better to show them the map of the real world before they are teenagers.
I drain the last of my very strong coffee. “Damn. They’ll probably rebel anyway.”
There’s a telepathic pause.
“Ha!” says Beatnik Dad. “We should…”
“…become embarrassing stoners,” I complete.
“Walk around trailing spliffs!” adds Beatnik Dad. “Drunk!”
“Oh Father,” I mimic. “There’s no food in the house again – Never mind son, smoke this – No. I am too busy completing your tax returns.”
“That would sort them,” says Beatnik Dad as we part company; he to write an exhibition review, me to contemplate my next book.
Perhaps they’ll end up as accountants anyway.