Wednesday 27 February 2008

Failing the tealight test

Here's the scene: A bright breezy weekday morning. Neve is snoring away in her cot, enjoying her morning nap. Amelie is at school. Nini is doing some spring cleaning and tidying in the front room. In the loft, two floors above her, I am 'seizing the day' and addressing the pressing problem of my unemployment by trying to beat my highscore on Geometry Wars on the Wii.
I decide that, though my skills at alien genocide are undoubtedly awesome, I just need a little energy boost to ensure that the galaxy is safe under my care. A cup of tea and a few slices of toast should do it - seems like a small price to pay for continuing galactic peace. I head to the kitchen, feeling relatively chipper, and humming to myself, when I pass the door to the living room and Nini asks: "Paul, do you still want these?"
Nini and have been together for a long time, and although it seems like an innocuous query, I know better: my spider-sense is tingling. There is no doubt that this is in some way a loaded question...
I peer cautiously into the lounge. Nini has cleared all the shelves and drawers and is sorting through all the ornaments and knick-knacks they contained - on the floor is a large cardboard box she is filling for the charity shop. She is also waving a couple of unidentifiable objects at me, one in each hand. "Do you still want these?" she asks again.
At this point I need to make a small digression: despite the impression you may have gotten from reading previous entries here, vis a vis my continuing de-masculation and forthcoming complete mental collapse at the hands of my nearest and dearest, I am still a man. As such, my interest in soft furnishings and household ornaments is very, very low. When we sit on the sofa, Nini is aesthetically aware of the carefully constructed arrangements of photographs and treasured mementos on each shelf, what each represent, the memories associated with them, how they look together as a collection, etc, etc. By contrast I am merely aware that we have shelves, and there is stuff on the shelves that makes it hard to park my cup of tea there - so to my mind, we either have too much stuff or need more shelves.
I focus on the gently waving objects. "What are they?" I ask.
She tuts faintly. I am immediately aware that on some level I have already 'failed' this conversation, and all that follows will just be an exercise in damage limitation.
"They are tealight holders" she says. "They are your tealight holders."
I find this hard to believe. It is inconceivable to me that I own tealight holders, as they are not something I would ever have bought for myself, nor can I see me adding them to my Christmas wish list. I take the first one from her and turn it over in my hands.
"Where the hell did this come from?" I ask
"I think", she says iciliy, "that it was given to you by some other girl..."And she pulls a disgusted face, as if to suggest that by seeing other girls in the 26 years of my life before I met her I have somehow let myself down, and that my unwittingly keeping household ornaments from them is an act of the deepest treachery.
Ah, I think, that's what this is about.
I clear my throat. "Well, obviously," I say, "that can go. I don't want that any more."
"Mmph" she sniffs haughtily.
I decide to press on and try and win back some brownie points.
"I mean, who would buy me a tealight holder? They clearly didn't know me very well, eh?"
Her face is unreadable. I take the second tealight holder from her hand and examine that.
"Yuk. That's not even as nice as the first one", I joke breezily. "I've no clue where that one's from either..."
"I bought it for you when we started going out. It was one of the first things I ever gave you, for your first house, when you didn't really have much furniture."
There is a pause. In no way could it be described as pleasant.
"Oh" I say.
"Right" I say.
"Well..." I begin "Now that I look more closely at it..."
"Get back in the loft" she says, and off I go. I think it best - after all, the galaxy won't save itself...

1 comment:

Misterimpatient said...

I think we can all learn a lesson from our leading politicians: Never provide a direct answer to a direct question.

- Whatever you decide dear.

- I promised to return a call from a job prospect, I'm ok with whatever you choose.

- Just save the ones you gave me and I'll be happy. Gotta run!