I rose to the tintinnabulation of the Women de Famile Stevie making ready to cast off for the shores of the Magic Kingdom with the usual good grace, punctuated by vile epithets and threats on the one hand and strident claims of innocence/hurrying/whatever would shut down the vile epithets and threats quickest on the other.
Ah, the joys of family life. It only seems like yesterday that I was witness to that most wondrous of life's mysteries: the simultaneous onset of puberty and menopause, the lot of those who start families later in life and stick around to see how it all works out. Oh how I looked forward to coming home after a day of being screamed at by co-workers.
I tried to remain above it all by burrowing into the bed and stuffing pillows into my ears, but Mrs Stevie became aware that someone wasn't getting into the holiday spirit and demanded I rise and shine with the rest of the world (as typified by the contents of the timeshare villa).
I took a quick inventory. Two women, bright red from anaerobic shrieking: check. Boyfriend somewhere under the busby that passes for his hairstyle, nimbly managing to stay out of either of their zones of control: Check. Something was missing. A second brief inventory of personnel was no more help in dispelling the feeling that I was missing someone.
"Stop standing around like a great useless lummox and help!" yelled my darling.
There it was: the punchbag-cum-money-fountain formerly known as "You idiot". All present and correct then.
Now a newcomer to the business of marital bliss might have made a classic mistake at this point by saying something like "What would you like me to do?" or the even worse "How can I help?"
Of course everyone with more than two years service under their belts will recognize the first as the bait for the "Anything would be better than standing round doing nothing, I don't know why I bother sometimes you insensitive bastard, my mother was right about you" rant that never goes anywhere good. The second is a more subtle trap, one designed to play on any feelings of guilt the spouse may have left in them, and inevitably ends up leaving the baited one feeling angry and hostile for hours afterwards.
I have managed over the years to expunge all feelings of guilt from my body, even those left by the most egregious "transgressions1" enacted against the interests of Mrs Stevie over the two hundred years or so that we've been married. Even the time I inadvertently dropped a forty year-old Norwegian Maple on her is now, in the light of passing years, remembered simply as the unavoidable and entirely accidental result of insect perfidy and unobservable wood rot rather than a deliberate attempt to jump directly to the "us do part" clause in our contract of bondage as she would have it at the time.
Besides, I had intended for the tree to fall the other way and by doing so remove a small flower bed that we were in dispute over. Had I been trying to drop the bloody thing into the driveway I would a) have arranged a better plan that didn't involve split second synchronization with her parking in the driveway2 and 2) removed the new-ish chainlink fence from the path of mutinous arboreal destruction.
In any case, it missed both her and the car.
Where was I? Oh right.
Sadly for Mrs Stevie I have trained my ears to recognize the start of both phrases and was thus able to make myself unavailable by ducking into the bathroom until they had left and gone away. I adopted my usual garb when on my own by removing every stitch of clothing, there being no good reason to make more laundry for myself when all I planned was sleeping, lounging and sleeping, and walked out into the living room.
"Good morning sir!"
I had forgotten about The Boyfriend, who had waited until I had walked past and was therefore behind me when he spoke.
"Argh!" I agreed, leaping several feet into the air in a display of improvised British athleticism designed to confound and amaze the colonial eye, and returned to the bedroom to put back on my clothes.
"That is an interesting tattoo you have on your right buttock, sir" the lad opined through the door as I hopped about madly trying to get my trouser legs to match my actual legs.
"Not a tattoo" I replied. "More of an embossing, really"
"Really? Radical! Who is the woman?" he said in tones of wonder
"The Queen" I replied
"I didn't know they had any women in the band. I'm not really a fan of their stuff myself"
"Not Queen, The Queen. Her Majesty, Queen Elisabeth the Second, Queen of Great Britain, defender of the faith, et cetera et cetera."
"Wow! You must be a really loyal fan! But isn't it treason of the most mutinous stripe to depict the sovereign on one's buttock? Where did you get it done? I've never heard of embossing human flesh before. How do they do it?" His excitement was palpable.
"Not really. Yes, it probably is. A field in Peterborough, in Cambridgeshire. You do it by ... look, I'll tell you over breakfast if you'll drive us to a diner and you promise not to talk about my buttocks to anyone. Ever."
And so, once we had ensconced ourselves in a diner made quiet by everyone else having gone to Disney, and once breakfast had been served and I had coffee and eggs and bacon and sausage and hash browns and all the other things I like but have forgotten to mention in front of me, I told the tale of The Parachuting Fiasco.
continued in the next entry
- Per Mrs Stevie↑
- Why she believes this is beyond me. She knows from the two years we had a mountain of topsoil in the driveway that I can barely manage simple solid geometry. The calculus required to enact the ambush she believes I had arranged for her return from Starbux was, even then, beyond me without serious application of strong drink, and that would have precluded the use of the chain saw. Q.E.2.↑