How far does trust stretch?
I have no doubt that if you asked any Cork twenty-something, or indeed, any Cork thirty-something, whether they loved their parents, siblings and any remaining grandparents, they’d answer you in those tones of self-righteous millennial-style outrage that we have all come to know, if not quite to love, that of course they did!
So, of course they loved their parents.
And, of course, they loved their grandparents too!
And they loved their siblings!
Why on earth would you even, loike, ask that?
What are you loike?
Deflecting the tsunami of self-righteousness threatening to crash over your head, you might then enquire whether those young people give their parents and grandparents reason to trust them?
Well, they will say, of course they do.
And off they will stamp, throwing outraged millennial stares over shoulders stiff with offence.
And thus, we arrive back at my question.
How far does love go in this city? Because, if you love your parents, grandparents and siblings, surely you wouldn’t consciously infect them with a potentially fatal virus?
But then, why did you attend that house party?
And where does that leave all this love you supposedly feel for your siblings and elders — your family?
And as for their trust in you; well, now, that’s another story.
Because as one parent told me this week, trust falls easy prey to fun and peer groups.
This family had a ‘thing’ arranged for a weekend recently.
We won’t go into details here, but suffice to say, a twenty-something offspring was required to be on duty playing a fairly key role from about 10am on the Sunday.
Everything was fine. Everything was on schedule. Everything was carefully organised and all the necessary preparations had been carried out. But just three or four days before kick-off, the guy with the key role landed into the family kitchen one evening, wearing a sad and concerned expression.
It didn’t take long for the news to emerge that, eh, the twenty-something now wouldn’t — er, couldn’t —be on duty on the Sunday morning after all.
Why, the bemused parents wanted to know.
Everything was arranged, for God’s sake!
And, as they pointed out angrily, he was playing a pivotal role.
He wriggled and squirmed and grimaced and whined.
Well, you see, this close friend of his had, em, had, kind of a birthday ‘thing’ on the Saturday beforehand and he’d been, like, thinking of attending…
What sort of ‘thing’, the parents enquired (getting suspicious now.)
“Oh, like, just a few friends and that.”
Were these ‘friends’ obeying Covid protocols, the parents wanted to know.
The numbers were on the rise fast now, in Cork…
Oh yes, he assured them.
Like, they absolutely were completely compliant.
Well, in that case, the parents wanted to know why, if it was merely a case of a few friends calling over for a small get-together, what on earth was the problem with him turning up as arranged, to do his thing as promised on the Sunday morning?
Well the twenty-something wriggled and squirmed and squirmed and wriggled, looked sad and repeated with apparent remorse how much he really, truly wanted to be able to attend the family event and how, em, sad it was that he, er, couldn’t, but, like he just wanted to have a few drinks the night before too.
Well, they said, doggedly refusing to let him off the hook, why didn’t he just have his few drinks early in the night and get to bed by midnight or 1am and be over at the house for 10am?
Ah no, he said, he was, like, afraid of being caught driving by the guards with drink in him. Maybe, like, he’d make it over to the ‘oul gaff by early afternoon.
But, his parents persisted, if it was only a case of just a few friends coming to a socially distanced birthday dinner, why would he need to be drinking so late?
Why would he need to stay in bed so late?
Why did he need to break a promise that he had made in good faith to his family?
They got no real answer to that and, not surprisingly, they were furious.
But you see, lads, there was worse to come.
You’ve probably guessed it already, but it took the poor parents a moment or two to realise that this little birthday get-together was not going to be some small socially distanced soiree involving high tea, birthday cake and a few close friends.
What the son was going to be attending, of course, was a heaving house-party in a Cork city suburb, which would run all night and well into the early hours of Sunday morning or later; an event at which this young man fully intended to drink himself into oblivion, ignore all social distancing and hygiene precautions and potentially get himself infected with the virus.
The same person would of course emphatically declare that he loved his parents and would be deeply shocked at any doubt that he was eminently worthy of their deepest trust.
But at the same time he was going to break a promise he had made to them.
He was going to let them down badly.
He lied about his reasons for letting them down so they wouldn’t give him grief about attending a house party.
He also, no doubt, would, as his mother commented grimly, probably assume it was okay to walk into the family home at some point following this knees-up, potentially bringing Covid-19 with him and infecting everyone he came into casual contact with. So, like I said.
With the second wave now definitely hitting our shores and the numbers of infections rising at the speed of light, this young man. who would tell you if you asked that he loved his family and was honest with them, still thought nothing of putting them all at risk of contracting a very dangerous virus.
His mother said grimly that he wasn’t about to be let into the family home for a long time to come. Not by a long shot.
The government needs to man up and give the gardaí powers to deal with these dishonest, anti-social, dangerous, young law-breakers (and I’m talking about the laws of decency here because there are no regulations governing house parties, unfortunately) who won’t listen to the warnings, won’t protect themselves or their loved ones, and who basically behave as if they’re utterly impervious to one of the nastiest viruses we have ever come across.