One giant leap year for mankind

IT’s Friday, February 29, as I write.

A Leap Year. I’m sitting by the phone. If the door bell should ring, I can hear it. I don’t know which one will go off first. If necessary I can open the door while listening to the phone.

It’s highly likely I’ll have to do that because Ñ today being that rogue day that occurs only once every four years Ñ someone will probably ask me to marry them. My expectation is that it will be a woman.

If you’re not aware, it’s on this day Ñ once every four years Ñ that women can ask men to marry them, instead of the other way round. Apparently the other 365 days of the year women have to wait to be asked.

I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s not a recognised custom in Australia because I’ve been sitting here now for nine hours and no one has rung – neither the telephone nor the doorbell.

Of course, I’m already married, be it in name only. The separation has been going on for nine months, 30 days and six hours, and it’s not likely to result in a reunion. Indeed, my wife, who doesn’t have to marry me because she already has, is notable by her absence.

It’s now 5pm and I begin to wonder if she hasn’t been warning people. Not that there’s anything to warn them about.

I remember having an interest in a girl once that might have turned into the romance of the 20th century if it weren’t for her insistence on three references. I passed with flying colours on the one from my employer; and the one from the bank was reasonable. But it was impossible to find an ex-girlfriend who’d speak well of me.

At the time I resented it. I mean, was I a mere chattel to be bought and sold with pedigree Ñ or even non-pedigree Ñpapers! (Well, yes, apparently). With hindsight I can see that she may have stumbled on an idea that could change the world.

What if all women started demanding references from ex-lovers? Not only would they expose all the flaws before it was too late Ñ the pubic hairs in the bathroom basin, the used underwear on the bedroom floor, the snoring and appalling table manners Ñ but they might also be reducing the incidence of loathsome inattentiveness that I understand is the genetic inheritance of every male on the planet. If men knew it would go on their record they might try harder.

Indeed, in this age of mass and immediate communications the possibility is already out there. How easy would it be to post a question on the internet: what do I need to know about Colin Pearce?

It’s now 7pm. The phone hasn’t rung, nor has the doorbell. I’m beginning to think the whole of Townsville has been on the internet and posted the question.

Or my wife has been on the internet and posted the answers.

Of course, it is International Women’s Day in one week. It wouldn’t look good, would it, to be asking a bloke to marry you and then flying the flag for women’s liberties and equal rights one week later.

That must be it. It’s very nearly 9pm and the only thing that been at the door is the cat, who came in through the cat flap. She’s female, but that doesn’t count.

I remain hopeful…