“Aren’t you glad that she has a boyfriend?” a friend asked me last week. She was talking about my sweet sixteen year old. Glad? I didn’t even know.
Being the last to know anything is standard for me, it came as no surprise really. The only thing that baffled me was when on earth she got to actually see this boyfriend. She stays in her room, on her laptop all day and for most of the night too.
“She has a framed photo of him on her bedside table. He’s gorgeous!” the friend added. She was buzzing at the idea of my first born having found a partner and as far as she was concerned, we were all just one bridesmaid away from a wedding. It was too much.
I was already depressed after eating three Easter eggs in a row and now I had this to face up to the fact that my daughter had a boyfriend. I had no choice but to investigate. Curiosity got the better of me and I was going to have to go where no mother likes to go: into her teenager’s bedroom. I would have to enter the teen cave to try and get a look at the mystery boyfriend.
The next day I made a cup of tea. I would bring it into her and, as I gave it to her, sneak a quick look at the photo. Maybe I would recognize him. Maybe he was a neighbour’s son. I put the kettle on and looked at my feet. I would need shoes. The floor is strewn with all manner of debris. I could tread on broken glass, an old hammer and a sticky puddle of goo or laundry that may have been there for years.
With slippers on, I knocked at the door. Silence. I knocked again. Silence. I looked at my watch. It was almost midday. I gently opened the door, “Hello?” I heard a moan. In the dim light I thought that I could see movement coming from the bed. A limp foot peeked out from beneath a duvet. “Tea?” I said, my beady eyes searching the room for the framed photo.
She made a grunting noise. I knew that sound. To the untrained ear it sounds like she is in pain, as though she has stood on a drawing pin.
But I know that the noise well, it means “GET OUT”. I tiptoed through the mess on the floor towards the curtains and gently opened them. Light flooded into the room causing her to let out an even louder grunt. That one was familiar too. It means “I HATE YOU”.
“I’ve made you tea!” I said, trying my best to sound chirpy and not the least bit suspicious. With my beady eyes I scanned the room. Empty tea cups everywhere, make up brushes, shoes, socks and scissors lay scattered beneath me. It would be so tempting to sweep the whole lot up and fill a sack but I knew that I’d have to leave it for another day.
Then I saw the frame. “Tea?” I said again. That would throw her off the scent as she lay there, a pillow on her head, groaning, thumping the mattress with her first and totally unaware that I was about to see HIM for the first time. I put the tea down, picked up the frame and ran out of the room.
In the safety of my kitchen, I stood by the window and in the midday sun, turned the frame around and looked at the photo. He was good looking alright. He was wearing a surgeon’s green scrubs. He was wearing plastic surgeon’s gloves, covered in blood and looking at a row of knives. This wasn’t a lad from school. This was Dexter Morgan.
Dexter is the lead character in a cult American TV drama of the same name. The show ran for eight years and is the reason that my teenager spends so much time in her dark room on her laptop. She has watched the whole seven seasons on Netflix over the last few months.
He is a serial killer but we all love Dexter because he only kills bad people. My teen is in love with a serial killer.
An hour later she came thumping out of her room. When she saw the photo, she picked it up silently and took it back to her bedroom. Ten minutes later she returned. “I want to paint blood splats on my bedroom wall,” she said, rubbing her eyes. She struggles with daylight like many teenagers. “I want to get some red paint and let it run down the wall. Like blood dripping down to the floor. Can we go to Woodies?” I said that I would think about it.
Later she walked through the house looking shocked. “I’ve been looking up Dexter on Wikipedia” I suppose that counts as an educational exercise. “Guess what?” I shrugged my shoulders. “He’s 44!” She was genuinely shocked and repulsed, almost choking as she spoke.
The framed Dexter print no longer sits on her bedside table. It has nothing to do with the fact that he wraps his victims up in cling film, stabs them through the chest, cuts them up into pieces, bags up their body parts in bin liners, piles them into his boat and drops them into the sea off the Miami coast. She didn’t mind any of that at all.
In the eyes of my teenager, Dexter’s only crime is that he is the same age as her mother.
Just when I thought the crush had gone, two days later the postman delivered a parcel. She had ordered a t-shirt online. “You are going to LOVE this,” she said as she unwrapped the parcel and put it on. “Ta Dah!” she span around. It was white and covered in blood splats with the words, “Keep Calm and let Dexter handle it”. Essential summer wear for teenage serial killer fans. The serial killer crush is back on.