Jacquie and I had a candid discussion the other day about our marriage.
She had just come home from the supermarket laden with many bags of groceries. I was busy watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on DVD, otherwise I would have helped Jacquie unload the car.
When the episode ended, I went to the kitchen to help Jacquie as she stocked the cupboards and refrigerator.
“Good work, honey,” I said. “You’re doing great.”
Then I went back to the lounge to take a nap.
For some reason, this upset Jacquie and she asked me why I wasn’t helping her.
“But I did help you,” I said. “As I understand our relationship, your job is to get up at the crack of dawn and till the fields and plant the potatoes and disembowel the livestock. My role is to wait at home for you to return from your 17-hour day of sweat and toil and tell you a joke while you make dinner. I’m pretty sure those were our vows.”
“You know,” Jacquie said, “there are reasons that only you find that funny.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just don’t ruin my birthday, dip-shit” she said. “If you fuck up my birthday, you’re going to be sorry, motherfucker.”
“When’s your birthday?”
“Do something thoughtful, and not hideous.”
“OK. I’ll start right now.”
I immediately went to the kitchen to stock the refrigerator all by myself. But almost immediately there was trouble.
“What are you doing, you idiot?” Jacquie said. “Tasty Cheese does not go in the vegetable crisper.”
“Well, I can’t win, can I?” I said.
(It’s for reasons plainly illustrated by this post that I am offering $20 to any reader willing to plan a thoughtful and not-hideous evening for Jacquie’s birthday. Make it something nice, but not too expensive. Jacquie is fond of Burger King, but she’ll happily pick through the garbage behind most of your fancier restaurants. For entertainment, take us back home after dinner so that Jacquie can organise things around the house, since that’s what she likes to do best.)
After the refrigerator fiasco, Jacquie and I got into a terrible fight in which she used the worst insult she could think of to describe me–“disorganized”–to which I replied with a satirical fairy tale narrated in a voice that was supposed to mimic Jacquie’s as nasally, juvenile and snide. As it turned out, that’s how I normally talk, so Jacquie didn’t realize I was making fun of her. Anyway, my fable went something like this:
There once was an incredibly virile lumberjack named Simon who lived deep in the lushly appointed western slopes of Mount Eden with his wife and scullery maid, Jacquie. Every night the couple would engorge themselves on takeaways of one kind or another from the shoppes on Dominion Road. Mondays were fish and chips, and Tuesdays were referred to as “Kebab Night”, but Fridays were best. They called Friday “Smörgåsborgasm.”
Every Smörgåsborgasm, they would separately purchase a meal in a plain brown paper bag so neither would know what the other had bought. Then they mixed the dinners together in a third plain paper bag until the meals were completely indistinguishable one from the other.
These peculiar dining habits persisted for many years, and over time, the lumberjack and the scullery maid slowly evolved into a pair of disgusting lard asses. All the children in the neighborhood shrieked in a mixture of delight, terror and confusion whenever the lumberjack or scullery maid were seen in public. The opprobrium of their neighbors confined them to shadow and despair, burrowed in the mountain’s frigid heart of scoria, to a life of severe isolation and gloom, which pretty much describes life in New Zealand anyway, so nobody noticed the difference. Myth fell to legend, and some things that should have been remembered, were forgotten (ie, the couple in this story).
This went on for many years, day in and day out, and the couple grew repulsed by themselves and one another. Then one day something incredible happened. Jacquie had boiled a pot of water in which to soak her bunions. She reached up into the cupboard for her bath salts but she didn’t notice was that she had knocked into her pot old beans of different sorts from the days when the couple used to cook along with some dried soup mix.
But after a while of soaking her toes, she began to notice an aroma and tracing the scent to her pot, she tasted it and decided to feed it to her husband as a kind of practical joke. Simon loved it and asked for more and for weeks after, Jacquie would prepare the soup in the exact same manner. But finding it impossible to keep the joke to herself, she eventually confessed that she had been soaking her feet in her husband’s soup.
“I do not mind,” Simon said.
“Why not?” Jacquie said. “Are you not disgusted by my freakish prank?”
“Why, no, it’s quite the opposite,” Simon said. “I’m elated.
“Because thanks to your bean soup, I’ve had the most wonderful bowel movements of my entire life and…
Jacquie interrupted me in the middle of my fable.
“OK, I have two questions,” she said. “What are you talking about and will you be stopping any time soon?”
I didn’t know the answers to those questions, but at least I found my wife had a birthday coming up. The only trouble was, when?