WE had a row.
On Valentine’s Day. One of those very dangerous, potentially terminal, rows about deeply personal issues that underpin the very fabric of every marriage.
She threw my washing up brush away.
She said it was disgusting.
I said it wasn’t as disgusting as the slimy square of disease-ridden rag she called a dishcloth.
She said the brush had been a bacteria-laden culture looking for a chemical warfare laboratory to adopt.
She said it was probably the reason everyone was always ill in our house (this means that two years ago one individual had a mild cold. That’s what women mean when they say â€˜every’ and â€˜always’).
She said my hygiene standards were disgusting.
From there it was a short trip to the lavatory (conversationally speaking) and now divorce looms.
I’ll just have to bear it because I am not Ñ not! Ñ giving up washing up with a brush.
What amazes me is that there are any alternatives. They ought to pass health laws forbidding dishcloths.
Have you ever put your nose to a dish cloth? Well no, obviously not. Because all the people who have are dead. You can’t smell a dishcloth and live. Not one of my wife’s.
And if you use a dishcloth you are bound to be washing up in water so tepid it grows cholera faster than a 16th century village, because you have to plunge your hand in constantly to pull out the dishes and to ensure you don’t miss the teaspoon that’s always lurking at the bottom when you let the water out.
Whereas a brush enables you to use water that’s hot enough to take the skin off a pig, because you don’t actually have to put your hands in much at all. You kind of hook things out with the brush.
And a brush has abrasive qualities that are generally superior to the film of greasy slime that coats a dishcloth.
But this is not the point. The point is: how did this happen!
How did a deeply committed brush person get to marry an intractable cloth person? And how come we didn’t deal with it in the negotiating period, before we took the plunge?
We knew our religious views were compatible. We established we both thought politicians were universally disgusting. We were looking forward Ñ together Ñ to never owning a television.
It’s a memorable time getting married. Setting up home. That first morning, stepping out on life’s road together. Joined at the hip, even coming downstairs to the kitchen.
There was a cloth beside the sink. I threw it out.
“What are you doing with that, my sweet?” she said.
“Throwing it out, dearest,” I said.
“Because it’s disgusting, my lovely. Where’s the brush?”
“Oh I don’t think we want a brush in our kitchen, my only.”
Oh how we laughed. We laughed at my funny little ways. We laughed at her idiosyncrasies. We laughed till we cried. But that wasn’t for a week or two.
Then we agreed to be mature. It wasn’t necessary for us to agree about something as trivial as the best utensil to do the washing up with. We would each use whatever made us feel comfortable.
“But I’m comfortable with a brush!:” I yelled on Valentine’s Day. “And you threw it away!”
“Because it was disgusting,” she yelled back. “You’re supposed to change it for a new one sometimes!”
But you can’t, can you? Not on Valentine’s Day. You have to kiss and make up. Which wasâ€¦ nice.
And we decided to go out to dinner, then there’d be no washing up anyway.
We laughed about that.
Dinner, I said, and a bottle of good sauvignon blanc.
“But you I know I don’t like sauvignon blanc. It’s like vinegar. Dear heart.”
“But I don’t like white. Why do we always have to drink white every time we go out?”
“Because we always eat fish every time we go out. You can’t drink red with fish!”
“You pompous tosser!”
“You argumentative old bat!”
“You started it â€“ with the washing up brush!”
“But you threw it out!”
Next Valentine’s Day we’ll talk about politics or religion. It’s safer.