I've always had a bit of a thing for men in uniform. Right from my childhood days, when I used to watch Sea Hawk on DD Metro, which was about the Indian Coast Guard and had Madhavan looking super sexy in a pilot’s uniform. All of my friends knew this.
But the tragedy was that in all my years of seeing people and relationships, I'd never actually dated a guy who wore a uniform. Those dashing military men are very hard to come by for a girl who went to an all-girls’ school and an arts college and now worked at an ad agency. So I dated whom I could - which basically meant that my boyfriend Adi was also someone from a similar background. He was a photographer.
One night, early on in our relationship, I'd gotten super drunk and told Adi about my uniform fascination. And he'd laughed like a maniac and told me that he would make sure I got to experience it at least once - whatever that meant.
On my 30th birthday, I decided not to celebrate. I'd just got into an altercation with one of the clients at the agency and wasn't too thrilled about life right then. It was a Saturday, and I decided to just lock myself in the house and sulk. Adi was out of town on assignment, and that was making me feel even more depressed. For the past few months, he'd been hinting at the possibility of “a future together” - but what did it mean, really, if he couldn't even be here for my big three-o?! My friends called one by one to ask me to at least go out for dinner and drinks, but I just growled and said no. I wanted to throw myself a pity party.
I spent the whole day binge-watching episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and eating junk. At 5 p.m., I finally dragged my ass out of bed and went in for a shower. Just as I was stepping out, the bell rang. Ugh, who the hell was that? I bundled myself up in a ratty old dress I used as a bathrobe and peeked out of the eye-hole. It was Adi.
Grumpy as I had been, I couldn't help but feel suddenly cheered up. C’mon, who wouldn't be if her boyfriend decided to surprise her on her birthday?
I let him in, and then stared. “Wait, why are you wearing a trench coat?” I asked. It was just early November. “Are you all right? Do you have a fever or something?”
He didn't reply. Instead, he pulled me in for a long, intense kiss. By the time he let me go, I was too turned on for questions. I reached for him again, but he batted my hands away. “I have a surprise for you…” His smile was so naughty that I wanted at that moment to do nothing more than rip that trench off him and drag him into the bedroom.
I didn’t have to wait long, though. He pulled the trench off himself. And as my eyes widened in more surprise than I’d ever felt before, he grinned and said, “Happy birthday!!”
He was dressed in a naval uniform! White shirt, white pants, black shoes. Complete with epaulettes at the shoulders and a row of badges above his breast pocket. As I continued to goggle at him, he reached into the bag he’d flung down on the couch and pulled out the hat that goes with the uniform. He winked at me and put it on his head. Still grinning, he saluted.
That was the moment when I basically lost control and pretty much attacked him. I pushed him down to the couch and started unbuttoning his shirt as I kissed him. “Stop, stop!” Adi laughed. “I thought you’d want me to parade around for you and shit.”
“Nah, I don’t care,” I muttered as I nibbled his jaw. In the past few seconds, i had come to the startling conclusion that my uniform obsession had nothing on my absolute adoration of Adi.
He’d just untied the belt of my dress and begun to do interesting things to my breasts when the bell rang. “What? Who’s that?” I mumbled. I was dying of love and lust right now and wanted nothing more than to just see this through and then cuddle. And I’d just decided that I wanted to marry him - though this didn’t seem to be quite the right moment to break the news to him.
But the ringing wouldn’t stop. Whoever was at the door was bloody persistent.
“Okay, okay,” I told Adi. “Go to the bedroom. I’ll get rid of whoever it is and then come in.” I shoved his bag at him - in case it was my landlord, I didn’t want to have to answer any awkward questions.
The bell rang AGAIN. I didn't even bother to check who it was as I flung the door open. Which was a mistake. Because in front of me stood my parents.
“Surprise!!” said my mother, beaming. My dad was smiling from ear to ear too.
“Oh, were you in the bathroom?” Ma asked. “I was wondering what was taking you so long.”
I let them in, wondering furiously how to deal with the Adi situation. My parents knew I was seeing someone, but nothing more. Especially not that it was pretty serious. And how the hell would I explain the uniform thing?! Best option: I'd just sneak him out of the apartment while I packed my parents into the kitchen or something.
But that was not to be. Because the silly boy hadn't managed to collect everything before running off to the bedroom.
“What is this navy cap doing here?” Dad asked.
Crap. I wondered if I could just pretend I'd bought one on a whim. As a birthday present to myself or something.
“Oh!” exclaimed Ma. “Is that your boyfriend’s? Is he here?”
“Arre, wah!” Dad said. “I didn't know he was in the navy. Where is he?”
“In the bathroom,” I mumbled. My brain was basically blank now.
“Sweetie, call him, na!” Ma said. “We've been waiting to meet him for a full year!”
I walked into the bedroom to see Adi looking absolutely terrified. He'd overheard the whole conversation.
“Babe, what have you got me into?!” he whispered frantically. “They think I'm actually in the navy?”
“Don't ask me!” I whispered back. “I'm not the one who told you to play dress-up!!”
“But how will I explain this to them?”
“I have no freaking clue. You figure it out,” I snapped.
“Sweetie, come, no?” Ma called from the living room.
We walked out, looking sheepish. “Ma, Dad, this is Adi,” I said.
“Nice to meet you, beta!” Ma looked thrilled at the sight of him. I couldn't blame her. He was a pretty good-looking guy, after all.
“So what rank are you?” Dad asked.
I prayed that the earth would open up and swallow me whole. And maybe Adi too.
“Um, actually, Uncle, I'm not really in the navy,” Adi said.
As you might expect, my parents looked baffled by this. They looked at the hat, at the uniform, and naturally turned towards me, eyebrows raised.
I wondered if this was what turning 30 was all about. Having to explain the concept of role play to my parents. No wonder people got so worked up about it. I opened my mouth, then shut it.
Luckily for me, Adi was faster. “Actually, Uncle, Aunty, your daughter has been so stressed about work for the last week… Her friends and I decided to throw her a fancy dress party! I'm actually a photographer.”
OMG. The uniform might be fake, but this boy sure was my hero.
“Oh, okay...” Ma said. Dad looked stumped. Then he said, “Beta, do we have to dress up also?”
I could have cried from relief then.
The boy took charge of entertaining my parents, and won their hearts by making them chai and telling them all sorts of random stories about his work. Meanwhile, I messaged my friends. “Pick up food and booze and come over. And wear a costume. NO questions if you want to stay my friend.”
My friends showed up. And in true friendly style, they didn't ask me any questions till the day after. But when they did get the full story out of me, of course Adi and I had to put up with months of teasing.
My parents went back home a couple of days later. And told me I had their blessing to “take things forward” with Adi. Which is a good thing, really, because I'm planning to propose to him. In costume. I just need to find the right one! ;-)
* Names changed to protect privacy.
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Published on Dec 17, 2015