MY wife is coming to dinner.
Those who know me will know this isn’t as odd as it sounds. We’ve been apart for two months.
To be precise: two months, two days, and five hours, as I write, but who’s counting?
It was mutual. We were Not Getting On.
Not Getting On is an occupational hazard after 28 years of marriage. The usual remedy is to watch television; but we didn’t have a television, so that didn’t help.
Now she is coming to dinner. I have planned everything. I don’t want anything to go wrong.
The chicken is in the oven. It needs another half hour. She should be here in ten minutes. Just in time to save it. The outside will be like seared cardboard. The inside will be raw.
How was I to know I was supposed to thaw the bloody thing first?
That’s all right, though. It means the heat won’t have reached the plastic bag that is still stuffed up its bum, with the giblets in.
Which was a pity, because it meant there was no room for the stuffing. I made gravy with it instead…
Well, I thought it showed initiative.
The thing with gravy is the lumps. They are not easy to achieve. Not on purpose. If you are trying for lumps they all melt, but I’ve managed to achieve a fair quantity of assorted sizes. I’ve asked her to bring the blender. I didn’t say what for.
And a chair. I only have one
The wine is in the fridge with the dessert, which is own invention: equal quantities of cream and yoghurt and bits of ginger and ginger syrup folded in.
More beaten in, actually, which tends to make the cream go buttery, but the bits of ginger will still be edible.
And the fire is smouldering nicely. By the time she arrives it should be more or less out, but I’m sure I’ll be able to revive it with a bit of blowing and some judicious work with the bellows. The room will end up full of ash, but it will have settled before the food is on the plates.
We’re going to have to share. And the knife and fork.
Am I completely out of my mind? I hear you ask.
What? You want her to think I can manage? You want her to look around and be relieved that I am coping with life as a single man?
I’ve even thrown my best alpaca sweater in the washing machine, on the high-spin program. With any luck it’ll come out looking and feeling like an ironbark slab. Call it wasteful if you like; I call it an investment.
Why am I doing this? Because I want her to know, without any room for the slightest vestige of doubt, that I can’t — and do not want to — manage without her.
Like the rest of North Queensland I have suffered the impossible distress of watching the suffering of the stricken relatives and friends of those who died in the Lockhart River disaster.
Fifteen people who would have no doubt, were the chance open to them, what they should be doing now if they were me.
I can’t help thinking how stupid I’d feel if I’d been on that plane, with no last chance… no opportunity to let my wife know that I’ve had a blessed life, thanks to her.
I’m going to point out to her that it’s insulting to the memory of those 15 that we can make so much of her infuriating inability to empty the waste bin until it’s overflowing with milk cartons and butter papers; or my ability to spread the Weekend Bulletin across 20 square metres of carpet.
I know it won’t be hard. She is a woman of immense compassion and understanding.
That’s why it’s important that she sees I’m completely incompetent (but I have tidied up the newspapers and stacked them in the shed).
If I’ve overdone it, of course, she may simply have me put in a home.
Watch this space.