FAs: Friend or Foe?

A piece I wrote in 2007 while single:

For those of you that don’t know, Functioning Adults (FAs) are those of your peers that have somehow managed to wade through the general low-level neurosis, negative peer pressure, lucid nightmares in which your mother catches you having sex/taking drugs/molesting ferrets/dropping babies on their heads and all-encompassing self-doubt to emerge victorious at the end of a church aisle swathed in a white dress or morning suit depending on gender of aforementioned FA. It’s kind of like ‘It’s a Knockout’ only with shorter arms.

FA’s are present in all our lives and, short of deleting them from your BT Friends and Family package, there’s not much you can do to avoid them. Admittedly, women feel the shadowy presence of their FA’s more keenly than men. This is because we have ovaries.

FA’s are distinguishable by certain characteristics and there are many circumstances to which you must adapt. Here is a selection of what I just said then:

1. FA’s are never single

2. They are not just co-habiting* but are either engaged or married

3. If they are engaged, they will have a constant ream of bridal magazines stashed about their person and fabric samples hanging from their bag at all times

4. If you are lucky enough to be their bridesmaid they will monitor your calorie consumption for a year and a half and make you go to Colour Me Beautiful (then cry for a week if you’re not a Summer and make you dye your hair)

5. You must like the fiancé/husband without question and value his opinion on all matters

6. The fiancé/husband has the right to stare at your tits whenever he so wishes, occasionally choosing to enthusiastically vocalise the action with the phrase ‘I would’

7. If your FA owns a house and decides to replace all the wooden doorknobs with glass ones, not only must you notice, you must also ask the place of purchase, price of knobs and entire thought process leading up to this crucial decision

8. If your FA’s have a child/children you must be ridiculously excited to see/hear about/talk on the phone to them at all times. Especially at 6am on a Saturday when your FA is calling you for a quick chat because they’ve been up for three hours feeding, changing and watching ‘Nibbly Pig Disbands the Third Reich’ and she naturally assumes it’s around lunchtime but can’t check because all the clocks in their house are covered in baby sick

9. When you go for dinner with the FA’s, especially those with children, you must remember that they are probably no longer having sex. To this end, and to get the best portion of tiramisu, you must regale them with glamorous and risqué stories of your urban single life. This is doubly important if you live in a city and they live in the ‘burbs. Pepper your stories with throaty laughs, hair-tossing and knowing winks to the husband. Discreetly avert your gaze when he stands up with a stiffy

10. Never attempt to have a conversation with your FA if their child is anywhere in the room. Conversations attempted with FA’s in the presence of their offspring generally follow this pattern:

FA (three hours after you arrive): So anyway, enough about us. How are YOU?

You: Not too bad. Oh, funny thing happened actually, you know that bloke I mentioned? The one who took me to that Greek restaurant?

FA: Stop that darling, please. Because you’ll get stuck, that’s why. Come and read dinosaur book, you like dinosaur book. Dinosaur! Dinosaur! Sorry, you were saying?

You: Er…right well anyway, after the disaster of the Greek place I didn’t think he’d ring again but low and behold he did. Anyway, I decided…

FA: Jocasta! Jocasta! Don’t stick your Lego there, its disgusting! Because I said so. I’m not joking, I know it’s fun now darling but it won’t be so much fun when mummy has to take you to Casualty again, will it? Remember Casualty? Yes you do, the nasty nurse had to put the cream in your special place, didn’t she? And it hurt, didn’t it? Right, so put the Lego down and come here. Barbie! Look darling! Barbie! Sorry, so you’re at a Greek restaurant…

Personally I’m happy being a DA (Dysfunctional Adult). In the city DA’s travel in packs, selfishly filling our days with shoe shopping, bed hopping and cocktail consumption. We gleefully kill off clutches of eggs with extra-strong Mojitos and pulverise brain cells with Merlot.

Unfortunately, the chances are there will come a point when your FA’s become a positive influence. It is inevitable that, unless you are cursed with the same levels of deluded self-confidence and playboy joie de vivre as Peter Stringfellow, you’ll eventually want to hitch your wagon to someone of the opposite gender, financially cripple yourself by purchasing a shoebox with windows and find yourself taking folic acid whilst flexing your pelvic floor in the queue at Waitrose. At this point you will probably start to appreciate the eternal struggle of unfounded optimism that is the life of an FA. You will go to them for advice and integrate yourself into their routines until one evening you find yourself serving tiramisu to a DA across your limed oak dining table, listening jealously to her tales of urban debauchery while your husband shuffles across the kitchen with a gingham chair cushion clutched to his crotch. Something to look forward to, then.

*It’s never final until a ring is purchased – mortgage schmortgage

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