Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Pillow talk: Secret drawers

Another bedtime conversation with the 'Mistress of the house', and another worrying trip into some of the less stable recesses of her imagination.
Recently, she heard some news about a married couple she once knew but whose marriage had since broken up - all the gory details of their separation were now beginning to trickle out into the public domain. Now, my wife is as interested in salacious gossip as the next fishwife, and lapped all this information up eagerly, but one little snippet caught her imagination more than anything else - apparently, when the house was being sorted out 'post breakup' it was discovered that the male party involved (who, as was very apparent in my wife's retelling, she deemed the villain of the piece) had a number of hiding places around the house where he had been concealing expensive consumer electronic goods from his wife. This was so that she could neither make use of them herself, or ever know how much they had cost: he had just bought them and squirreled them away for his own private use.
"Isn't that awful?" asks my wife, as soon as she finishes telling me.
"Mm-hmmm..." I say, feeling that I should at least indicate halfhearted agreement, because it's clear that even token dissent on my part would automatically mean I was siding with the enemy. In fact, what I am really thinking is that it seems pretty pathetic. In the scheme of things, when considering the whole great pantheon of marital felonies that a man can commit, 'hiding some stuff in a drawer' seems pretty lame. I am not familiar with the unhappy couple in question at all, and I have no idea if there were a number of other offences to consider, but still: this does seem like the marital equivalent of bringing down Al Capone on charges of tax evasion. I want to make it very clear at this point to the audience in general (and to one reader in particular) that I am not advocating shoddy behaviour in any way - but if my marriage lay in tatters all around me, I think I'd rather be described as "the bastard who ran off with a Latvian pole-dancer half his age" than as "the sad little man who hid an I-Pod Touch from his wife in the back of the wardrobe".

My wife, however, clearly does not share my sense of scale in this matter. She is consumed with second-hand fury about it.
"I think it is obscene behaviour," she announces, raising an eyebrow that dares me to disagree.
"It doesn't really seem that practical..." I murmur, thinking: When would he get to use this stuff? Did he have to wait for her to go out, or just lock himself in the bathroom? Surely there's very little point in buying a furtive PlayStation 3 if you can't actually hook it up to the television?
"It's got nothing to do with practicality. It's a betrayal of trust."
"Yes, yes...", I nod readily, thinking: Perhaps he also hid a television in the bathroom. Is that possible? Under those circumstances it would have made much more sense to buy a handheld, like a Nintendo DS...
There is a lengthy pause. About halfway through it, I realise I know what is going to come next.
"Here it comes..." I say.
"You had better not have any secret hiding places..." she warns.
"...annnnnnd there it is, right on the money."
"I'm just saying: you'd better not...."
Now, the very idea is laughable on many levels. Firstly, she complains to me on at least a daily basis that I am incapable of keeping my thoughts to myself, and in fact it would be better for her if, just for once, I could refrain from saying exactly what I was thinking at any given time. Apparently, when we got married and I agreed in front of a church full of witnesses that I would share everything with her, she hadn't envisaged that would extend to include a full report every time I visited the toilet ("Phew, the one I did at work today - that was really hard work. I needed to brace against the walls or I'd have been in there forever...why have you all stopped eating?")
Secondly: we have two small children. As a result, there is no privacy and there are no hiding places that would remain undiscovered. Only last week I came into my bedroom to get changed, and halfway through realised our three-year old had concealed herself in the linen bin and was watching me, giggling. In short, I am not a man who has secrets. She knows this. Nonetheless, I feel I should probably remind her.
"I am not man who has secrets" I state. "You know this."
She ponders this.
"That's true" she finally observes. "It's not like you really make more than a token effort to hide your character flaws from society at large. I can't imagine you'd have the willpower to then go ahead and actively conceal something you really cared about"
"Exactly. What you see is what you get with me," I say, proudly. "Open. Honest...."
"Tactless. Borderline rude..." she finishes.
There is another pause. It lasts so long that I think she has fallen asleep, but then she asks:
"If you did have a secret hiding place, what would you keep in it?"
"I dunno. Secrets?"
"Yes. But what?"
"No idea. I haven't got any secrets, we just discussed that."
"Yes, but that's dull. Think of something."
"I don't know. Guns? Porn? Drugs? Nazi gold?"
"Those are stupid suggestions. Those are criminal things, not dirty little secrets."
"Well, what do you think I would hide? What would be the worst thing?"
"Pictures of your other family. Your other, secret family."
(Now we've been here before. My wife has this peculiar affinity for daydreaming me as the lead villain in a series of charmless little vignettes, each riffing heavily on the themes of 'loss' and 'betrayal' and 'heartbreak'. These scenarios rarely seem to end well. I find it odd that she fantasises about me causing her misery - it's almost as is she wishes I actually was more secretive and mysterious, not less...)
"I see. My other family, eh?"
"Yes. Wife and two kids."
"Riiiight. Younger than you, is she?"
"Yes. She's from Thailand. You bought her over the Internet."
"Okaaaaay. So in my secret drawer, you think I would hide evidence that showed I was a bigamist who buys mail-order brides from the Far East?"
"Wow. I mean, just: 'wow'. The stuff that goes on in your head..."
"You've decorated her house as well, the way I want this house to look - shabby chic."
"Well, this place is halfway there - we just need to work on the 'chic' part..."
"And in her house, you have a secret drawer, and it's got pictures of me and the girls in it..."
"Oh. My. God. Have you been drinking? I really think you should stop talking now..."
She falls silent. After a while it occurs to me I should ask her the reciprocal question.
"What would you keep in your secret drawer?" I ask
"Pictures of Gary Barlow" she says, without hesitation.


Anonymous said...

Hilarious! I'm still laughing. Keep it coming...

Carol said...

Chris and I have random conversations too...although I have to admit...they are not quite that random!!

Very very funny post!!

C x

Anonymous said...

I have conversations like this with 'him in doors' usually along the lines of where 'he' has hidden 'my' glasses

Mum X

Kim said...

Just to let you know we blogged about you being one of our favourite "dad blogs" over on enjoy the ride.
Keep it up!

PDC said...

@Carol & @Kim - thankyou both very much :-)