My friend is unhappy. His wife wants a new car. She has made the decision unilaterally (means without asking him) because two of her friends have rich husbands who have bought them new upmarket cars and now she expects him to do the right thing…writes Bikram Vohra
Tell me, he says in that hollow, mirthless tone of voice men adopt when they are cornered by their wives and haven’t the courage to come out fighting, tell me why do they have to make everything into a test of love. The amount we do for the peace and harmony of the house, always giving in, just to avoid a con-con-con-you know that fight word. Confrontation, I say. Yes, he says, but a car, I mean is that fair, why do they need these periodic tests, you know what she said, she said if you really, really, really love me you’ll get me the car, do you know what three reallys means in ‘peace in the home at all costs’ stakes?
I opt for strategic silence.
It is a fortune, he says, misery doing a breakdance in his tone, that’s what it is. Try second hand, I say, you get second hand cars, good bargains. I tried that, he says, oh boy I did and she said so that’s what you think of our love for each other, a tatty second hand affair if that’s what you consider it then I don’t want a car, forget it. There you are then, I say, she’s let you off the hook, forget it. He looks at me pityingly.
You’re a married man and you talk like that, he says, when a wife says forget it, what she means is just try, mister, there will be price to pay, don’t you see it’s the old historical guilt trip. He says, do you know there are categories in this situation, like common run of the mill love, tangible love, true love and that real, real, real ‘show me’ thing they fling at you.
That’s nice, I say, then realise that this too is inappropriate response. It’s not nice, he says, its dia-dia-that sinister sleuthy cloak and dagger word. Bolical, I say, always on hand to do my bit. So you’re going to buy the car for her, I say. No, he says, I am going to win the Kentucky Derby, of course I am going to buy the car. So why are you cribbing, I say, if you are going to the guillotine trot along with a smile. If I didn’t, he says, she wouldn’t believe I love her, don’t you understand. I just can’t agree at once, that would raise her suspicions, she’ll only value it if she has to win the war.
The car arrives this week.