IT’S our wedding anniversary on Tuesday.
Twenty six years.
We should make it, but it’ll be close. I have locked all the doors and windows but she may still escape before the due date. She has threatened to climb out through the chimney.
It used to bewilder me that people made such a big deal about couples who have been married for 50 years.
But it’s not hard to do that; it’s easy. The hard part is to do it without poisoning each other’s soup (the only thing you can eat by then is soup).
The hard part is being married for 50 years and still having conversations about the meaning of life, rather than ones that begin, “pass the salt” or “where are my socks?”
Indeed, if we concentrated more on the meaning of life we wouldn’t have most of the arguments we do have. They tend to happen because the automatic response to “where are my socks?” is “where they always are!”
From there, it’s downhill all the way.
The world is full of couples whose lives are a silent walk through a conversational minefield. You’ve seen them: they sit in coffee shops together, with a cup of coffee that lasts 50 minutes, and they stare at the walls.
I have had to restrain myself from asking them, but I want to know what they’re thinking about. I mean, you can’t sit for 50 minutes without thinking something.
I suspect they’re probably trying to dream up ways of poisoning the soup without being found out.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have this problem with my wife. When we go to cafes I sit and keep myself company while my wife joins another table with far more interesting people on it.
This doesn’t means she actually goes and sits with them. It means that after five minutes of trying to engage her in a fascinating debate about the origins of monogamy, her eyes glaze over.
I stop talking and she doesn’t even notice. You can see her ears vibrating as they pick up the conservation next door. Or the ear on that side of her head, anyway.
And I am not talking 50 years on. I am talking 26 years on!
I do not want this to happen. I don’t want to sit embattled behind my newspaper while she wonders what happened to the best years of her life. I do not want to be reminded that 32 years ago I said I’d mend the gate, which rotted away 20 years ago.
I want to be still holding hands walking down the street. I want to be still furious when we go to parties and dribbling old fools chat her up (unless the dribbling old fool is me).
I want us to be still able to get into a spa together with a glass of wine each, not a cup of cocoa.
But somewhere along the way I lost the knack. I have promised my wife I will do better. She has promised that if I unlock the house she won’t run from it nor will she poison the soup.
Not until after Tuesday, anyway.