We all do it. Remember our pre-kids life as if it was some unendingly hedonistic cycle of spontaneous nights out, lavish meals and alcohol/erotica-fuelled holidays. And even though, for me at least, that would be a gross overestimation of both my inventiveness and staying power, it’s nearly impossible to resist a glimpse through rose-tinted specs every now and then.
To a time when going for a meal out didn’t involve a bulging rucksack of distractions and the human equivalent of a carwash afterwards. When holidays actually meant returning home more relaxed than when you left. When a night out didn’t entail weeks of negotiation, pre-planning and clock-watching as the babysitter’s fee ticks up beyond the cost of the evening itself. And when a Saturday morning hangover started once your body decided you’d had enough sleep to get through it, not when some miniature idiot buries his bony knee in your testicles at 6.30am.
Thus, when I went away skiing with three mates a couple of weeks ago, the plan was to set things straight. A triumphant, albeit temporary, recreation of those youthful, halcyon days. Yes, we’d make sure we maximised our time on the slopes, but what really mattered was taking on the post-piste drinking like the legends we knew were still there, lying latent beneath our middle-aged spreading.
We even had a hashtag: #RollingBackTheYears. That’s how Millennial we were planning to be. This was on.
Then reality arrived – about as softly as the good morning knee I mentioned earlier. Two litres of gin exuberantly purchased at the airport resulted in an unplanned gift for the cleaners on departure. One crate of beer between four turned out to be enough. We cooked, averagely. And even our ‘big night out’ saw at least one of our party (no names) tucked up in bed by 10pm, with the rest of us only a couple of beers behind.
That’s not to say it wasn’t great fun. In fact, it was a brilliant trip. But to claim we delivered against our hashtag would be pushing it.
In fact, if anything, it was more a glimpse of the future. One where enthusiasm and intent are ever more distant friends of capability. Where waking up on your terms is as much a treat as going out in the first place. Where ‘getting a table’ is more critical to a successful night than how much you drink. And where a ‘white out’ doesn’t just apply to the mountain weather anymore, but to the thick fog in your 38-year-old brain when you drink Stella.
Maybe I’ve learned my lesson. Perhaps I’ve realised that I can’t keep blaming the kids for my partying failures. I mean, I even just used the word ‘partying’ for Christ’s sake. But, really, I have little doubt I’ll be donning those same rose-tinted specs again next time the opportunity arises. And if I’m honest, I’ll be glad to. After all, what’s life without hope and misplaced self-belief? For most of us, those traits are exactly how we ended up as parents in the first place.
In the meantime, it’s time for my wife Laura to take a similar trip this weekend. Maybe she’ll get on better than I did at pretending she’s still got it, although I hope not. Now, that really would be hard to accept.