Monday, 3 March 2008


“Alice?”, whispered Hubby, almost imperceptibly the other night, just as I was drifting off to sleep.
“Mmm”, I replied. What was going on? Hubby rarely comes to bed when I am conscious, let alone start a dialogue with me.
“I’ve been thinking”. Huh?
“You know tomorrow is February 29th? Leap day?”
“Yes”, I yawned. This was most curious. Hubby is not known for his conversation unless it is somehow identified with grey ships - then he can wax lyrical but, to question me on a Leap Year was odd indeed. I couldn’t fathom it at all.
“Well, what I was wondering, it being the woman’s prerogative an all that. Were we not married, well, would you have proposed to me?”, there was a pause before he added, “Given what you know”.
It was late. Logistically it had been a day of killer proportions. I was literally run ragged and now he wanted a deep conversation which quite honestly, was soon going to degenerate into high drama if I didn’t pick my words very carefully indeed. ‘Given what I know’. That was a loaded statement. So I lied.
“Of course I would have darling. It’s been a wonderful seventeen years. We’ve got the most amazing children, a wonderful friendship, passion and respect for one another. Who could ask for anything more?”
He didn’t buy it.
“Don’t be facetious Alice. Aren’t you happy then? Wouldn’t you marry me again?”
It was at a loss for words. I was so tired; this was such a hypothetical conversation.
“Well, we are married, so what are you talking about?” I asked, tapping his thigh, in what I hoped was a comforting, reassuring manner.
“I read an article in a paper yesterday that suggested over 85% of women, if given their time over again, wouldn’t marry their husbands. Are you one of them?”
I lay on my mattress and gazed in the dark up at the ceiling. He was serious. Hubby had genuinely been thinking about all those dissatisfied wives the length and breadth of Britain, desperate for a bit of peace and quiet, wishing they had never signed up for 40 years of heavy domestic and emotional toil with only a week in Lanzarote thrown in now and again for good measure.
I had been facetious earlier. In the parlance of teenagers, it is so easy to ‘diss’ one’s old man, like a post-modern Bernard Manning but was I being fair?
As Hubby lay beside me holding my hand to avoid the irritating thigh tapping as much as anything else, waiting for my reply, I rolled over and fished about in my bedside drawer for a pen and scrap of paper.
“What are you doing now?” Hubby asked, rather impatiently.
“Writing a list of pro’s and con’s if you must know. Hubby exhaled noisily whilst I drew my table. The con’s came thick and fast: Long periods of time living apart, sole parenting, coping on my own, few holidays, frustration, frequent rows.
“Gee great Alice. This marriage really has been laugh a minute for you hasn’t it?” I sensed a slight modicum of sarcasm in his voice.
“Give me a chance”, I replied, “I have yet to write the pro’s”.
“I won’t hold my breath”, Hubby responded huffily. He needn’t have huffed as I couldn’t help but think, as I drew up my list of ‘Pro’s’, that they were a little more profound than the con’s. We are each other’s best friends; we have genuinely got fabulous children. He works so hard and does such a good job that I hold him in very high regard and respect him as a very hands on father, who when here, has an enviable relationship with his children. Ok so, passion had gone out of the window a bit, but then again I bet Angelina and Brad aren’t at it like rabbits all the time either.
The pro’s continued: Hubby has provided me and his children with a lovely roof over our heads, given me the opportunity to return to higher education, provided food and generally speaking, when on special offer, excellent wine. He may have protested regularly about our finances and complained more than is palatable about how money is haemorrhaging from his very arteries but has been generous to a fault at times too. Ultimately I have never questioned his devotion to marital duty or his unwavering love for me. I squeezed his hand, “Yes darling, on reflection, I would ask you to marry me. Over all, you’ve been a good bet”. Just as he was to prove there is no such thing as a free marriage evaluation by letting his hand let go of mine to explore further other areas of my anatomy, our son walked into our room.
“Will you sign my planner please?”, he asked. I turned on my bedside light and Hubby sighed a sigh of defeat.
“Have you made a time plan now for the revision you’ve got to do?”, I asked.
“All done.” he replied. I didn’t really believe him but as he bent down to give me a final kiss goodnight I remembered the glowing words with which his teachers had praised him that afternoon at Parents Evening: ‘Impeccable manners’, ’So polite’, ‘A pleasure to have in class’, ‘Amusing’, ‘A really good lad’.
Given that a friend, who is currently working as a supply teacher, literally walked out on a classroom of teenage hoodlums this week having experienced the foulest language, aggression, disruption and intimidation, I felt that Hubby and I must have done something right. To know that my son is not the reason for his teachers nervous breakdowns is comfort indeed. Buoyed by this thought I turned to Hubby, ready to respond accordingly. He however, worn out by the unchartered territories of late night conversation coupled with his amorous advances was already fast asleep. I turned off the light. Continuing the educational motif: ‘Could try harder' could be added to the ‘con’s side of my list.


enidd said...

nice one, alice. perhaps enidd should break the habit of a blogtime and be nice to the man in print.

hmm, perhaps not. he might get cocky.

Mary Alice said...

That was lovely. When you get down to it there are a lot of things to appreciate and be thankful for with our men - even those extended military absences, for they have made us stronger women.

You have done a wonderful job with life - as evidenced by the comments about your children. All your sacrifices have been worth it. Smile and feel the love!

BTW do y’all ever do renewal of marriage vows over there in England – or is that some sappy thing we Americans thought up? Maybe you could surprise him and marry him all over again.

Alice Band said...

Enidd - It's the cocky bit that always gets in the way, no?

Alice Band said...

Mary Alice - People have been known to do vow renewal here but either they are celebrities caught with their pants down and thus want to make 'ammends' or people in their 60's - so I'll look forward to the party. One thing's for sure, I can't get into my bloody wedding dress!!