I think it’s high time we looked further into the deep and binding relationships that Husband forms. He’s choosy, choosing only three of the best male specimens that beer money can buy. Obviously I’m talking about Pokey, Stu and Bucket Head the Best Friends a Man Could Ask For, which are my sentiments exactly.
I would be disappointed in you all if you suspected in any way that Husband first met his dearest friends anywhere other than the pub. Because he did, quel surprise. Actually there was a tiny surprise in that Husband decided to try a different pub. This is like me trying a different bra, unheard of. The ones I know are comfy, familiar and serve things up on a tray.
So there we were, hesitating slightly at the entrance to this new territory, wondering whether the locals would welcome us, not sure whether we’d like it. We entered like any self respecting English couple; sideways, heads bowed enough to avoid eye contact but not enough to fall over something and Cause a Scene. We headed in the direction that our quick glances reassured us was the bar.
And there he was. There in all his glory, surrounded by a choice circle of chums, was Pokey; side on to us, standing sloppily near the bar, head tilted back, balancing a pork scratching on his top lip. This scene in its entirety would have been enough to get Husband hooked; you could see his heart beating out its special tune of man-love for this pork scratching balancing midget with a medallion round his neck. But being Pokey he went one better and flicked his head, and by result the scratching, into the air and caught it in his mouth.
Husband roared the kind of approval I’d hoped for at childbirth and marched across the pub floor to shake Pokey’s hand, simultaneously winking at the bar man for a beer and tapping his top lip to indicate a fresh supply of pork scratchings. English reserve forgotten in the height of this euphoria, Husband declared his love for Pokey in one sentence:
“That, my man, deserves a drink”
Which it did, obviously. Husband had come home. What more could you ask for than a salty meatskin snack, a new best friend, a pint and a wife to drive you home. Nothing dear readers, absolutely Nothing.
Except of course, like City Slickers Two, Pokey got better with a sequel. Just as Husband was about to present Pokey with a fresh challenge, a long, pale arm reached into the throng and placed, rather gracefully, a scratching on Pokey’s waiting, trembling lip. It had the touch of the lover about it, as Bucket Head loomed into sight.
“Ere we are Pokes” yelled Bucket Head, “three in a row”
Pokey dutifully flicked and caught his scratching while Husband looked on, falling in love with every bead of perspiration on Pokey’s brow. Clutching his own bag of scratchings, eager to be the person to present Pokey with his next top lip challenge, he stepped forward uncertainly.
“here we go” said slightly self consciously, placing the snack on Pokey’s top lip, quivering at the excitement of it all.
Pokey paused, flicked, crunched. And history was made.
Obviously being the observer of this instant crush filled me with glee. Honestly, glee. What else would I like in my life than another Husband, one whose hygiene rating scored below a rat’s scrotum. What else indeed. I probably should have stopped there, counted my blessings that there was only Pokey and adopted him immediately. This being the preventative measure of him being attached to any other male in the world who would follow him anywhere.
This was stupid of me obviously. There were three of them.
We had yet to be introduced to Stu, he’d been in the toilet looking for pound coins for the fruit machine. He came through to the bar, shoes sticking to the floor as he stuffed his way into the circle of friends.
“This” said Pokey throwing his arm round Husband’s neck, “is Stu”, Husband shook Stu’s hand as Bucket Head nodded wildly, affirming helpfully that this was, in fact, Stu. Fabulous.
There they stood, three goons and Husband, the pork snatching crumbs on Pokey’s face glistening in the gloaming of the pub lighting; Stu wiping his pound coins on his t-shirt and Bucket Head patting Husband’s arm in wonder, as if he’d just won a pet cow.
Husband looked at me for the first time since we’d arrived.
“We’ve GOT to invite these guys back to ours” he said enthusiastically, “I can show them my mini putter”
“Quite” I said, which in a pre-agreed ‘safe word’ discussion, Husband understood as no, not in a million years.
“Brilliant” he said and patted Bucket Head on the shoulder,
“Get your coats lads, you’ve pulled” he guffawed, delighted as Stu spat out his beer
“I don’t think I’ve got room in the car” I said, “perhaps we could leave Pokey” (I am banking wildly here that no Pokey equals no Stu and Bucket Head).
Husband looked askance at my lack of Quality Man detecting skills.
“He’s the BEST ONE,” he boomed spilling beer froth up his nostril, forgetting that he was in booming distance of Bucket Head, who looked mournfully at his beer. He seemed resigned to appearing the lesser talented, Pokey being the Pork Scratching balancer and all, and Stu earning so much money from the toilets.
Husband ushered the three of them in front of him like naughty children and shuffled them towards the door of the pub, out into the cold night air and the quiet of the night.
“Phwoar” yelled Husband, doing that rub of the hands up and down the arms thing that people do to show they’re cold, “don’t worry” he said to Pokey, maternally, “it’ll be warm at home and you can be first to have a go on the putter.”
Warmed with promises of putter play the four men marched into the night, towards a night, nay a lifetime, of guffawing, insults, beer, pork scratching catching and slightly sticky hands while playing the fruit machine.
Dear readers, it was Love.