Tag Archives: marriage

1965. Just down the corridor

(This is the fourth of seven days of Science Faction).

Bevan lived in a single bedroom apartment block. It’s not the living arrangement he would have preferred, but it would do for the time being. He was saving to buy a proper home, with a small garden and lawn, and proper neighbours over the fence – not neighbours who could be described as “a couple of doors down the corridor”.

It wasn’t long before he noticed Magdalene. Her apartment was on the same floor. She was always very pleasant when they passed. In fact, she was straight-out lovely. They seemed to be roughly the same age. Her clothes and makeup were always done to perfection. Her personality was bubbly. Her speech was music. In fact, Bevan used to keep his door slightly ajar so he wouldn’t miss her when she came home. He didn’t want to not accidentally have the pleasure of bumping into her.

There was only one thing for it: he would have to ask her out on a date. It should be nothing too formal like a meal at a fancy restaurant. Maybe a movie followed by a coffee in a café. Twice he walked passed her door but was too afraid to knock.

“Blow it!” he thought one late Sunday afternoon. “It’s now or never.” He strode along the corridor before he had time to chicken out. He knocked. The door opened.

Oh my God! Great Scot! It was disgusting! She had forgotten to put on her artificial face. Her head was a squirming ball of worms and maggots. This intergalactic alien wasn’t one person; she was a thousand.

“Hold it! I’ll just put on my face.” She disappeared for no more than thirty seconds. When she reappeared it was the lovely Magdalene once again. “Just don’t tell anyone,” she said.

And that is how Bevan was silenced into owning his own home with a small garden and lawn, and proper neighbours over the fence. His delightful spouse wears her artificial face all the time these days.

Except when she takes a shower.

1959. A finger in every pie

Wendy and Ronald didn’t eat out that often. Now and again they might go to a fast-food chain and get something. Not to take home, but to simply have there and then on one of the outside, bird-crapped tables. But still, an outing is an outing. It’s a change of scene if not exactly dining at the Ritz.

They normally liked to eat healthy. They were not fuss-pots about food but I suppose they could be called “careful eaters”. Healthy eating meant that going to get an unhealthy meat pie or an unhealthy hamburger and French fries once in a while was an absolute treat!

It was while Ronald was tucking onto his kangaroo and double egg burger that he came across a finger; a human finger. Although he wasn’t sure because he had already bitten into it and therefore pulled the finger out of his mouth, he was ninety percent sure that the finger had been stuck in the kangaroo meat rissole.

“Look what I found in my hamburger!” exclaimed Ronald to Wendy. “Someone’s index finger!”

“It’s not an index finger,” said Wendy. “I think it’s a middle finger.”

“How would you know that?” said Ronald. “They’re both very much the same.”

A wee argument ensued, with both Wendy and Robert sticking to their guns; although Wendy reckoned it was from a right hand and Ronald from a left. In the end they were able to laugh about it.

“It’s an unresolved mystery,” said Ronald as he scrapped his leftover meal with the uneaten finger into the waste bin. “I guess it’s something we will never solve.”

Which just goes to show, if a moral is to be taken from this episode, that wee matrimonial disagreements can sometimes be solved with a little laughter.

1945. The case of the mysterious proposal

When Anita got to the last sip of her tea at the rather sophisticated afternoon tea-party there was an engagement ring at the bottom of her cup. Her first thought was “I was lucky not to have swallowed all those diamonds”. Then she wondered whose ring may have slipped off as they drank tea and she had picked up the wrong cup. And then she wondered, “I wonder if this ring was meant for me? I have dated two of the men here but I doubt that either was serious enough.”

She glanced around. No one seemed to be watching her. No one seemed to be waiting for a “Yes!” No one seemed to be anticipating a surreptitious shriek of excitement to escape her cherry red lips.

If the proposal was real it would be so banal to simply say, “Hey! Look what I found!” She would spend an entire marriage living with the dullness of having not looked pleased at the marriage proposal.

George came over to her. He was undoubtedly the handsomest man there – or so Anita thought – although he wasn’t one of the two that Anita had been out on dates with.

“How’s it going?” said George.

“Good,” said Anita. “And how are you?”

“Good,” said George. “Would you like another cup of tea?”

“I’d love one,” said Anita.

George took Anita’s cup and saucer and headed for the table with the teapot. He returned.

“Thank you so much,” said Anita. George moved further around the room.

Needless to say, Anita was rather keen to get to the bottom of her cup. Was the ring still there? She was halfway through sips of her too, too hot tea when Berwyn began squealing in the far corner of the room.

“Oh George! Oh yes! Yes! Yes! Oh Georgie darling! Yes! Yes! Yes!”

1944. I didn’t know

Apparently I can’t do much right. I mean, how is a guy to know these things? I gave her a bunch of yellow roses and she said yellow meant “goodbye” – at least in her vocabulary of flowers. I wrapped some white gladiolas in some black tissue paper. I thought it looked stunning and she said that to wrap things in black paper meant everything was over.

It just went on and on. I didn’t know she was allergic to peanuts when I cooked up some Chinese using peanut oil. I didn’t know that years ago her grandfather had drowned and it was insensitive of me to say “Let’s go to the municipal swimming baths on this hot day.” When I asked “Would you like a wine?” I didn’t know her mother was an alcoholic. I didn’t know she had run over her cat when she backed out of her garage. I didn’t know she detested football. I didn’t know that there wasn’t a thing in the world that didn’t upset her. Everything under the sun brought on shocking memories and reactions. I didn’t know she was a Pandora ’s Box of carping whinges.

On and on and on and on and on. I didn’t know at the time that my brother was right when he told me I was a fool to marry her. Good luck to the guy she’s eloped with.

1931. A story with an illuminating moral

Milton was a perfectionist. It was basically why he never finished anything; unfinished poems, unfinished paintings, unfinished model aeroplanes, unfinished garden… He even had a cake gone mouldy in a cake tin awaiting the final layer of frosting.

It’s not that he wasn’t talented. In fact, most things he touched turned to gold. “You have the Midas Touch,” said his Carla who lived down the road. “Everything you touch turns to gold. If only you would declare something finished.”

Of course, most of the things Milton began he did in fact finish. It’s just that he was never completely satisfied with the finished product. A pruned hedge would always have a leaf out of place; a landscape scene could always be signed on the left-hand side instead of the right; a finger for four seconds longer on the pottery lathe could transform a pot; two minutes more in the oven could turn his oatmeal cookies into culinary masterpieces. He was forever fiddling.

He knew he had a problem. That is when Carla from down the road stepped prominently into his life. Carla finished everything, but she finished everything in the sloppiest manner and then would quickly move on to another interest. Her artistic standards were as appalling as Milton’s were finicky.

It was most unfortunate that they fell in love. They moved in together. Their house was an utter mess; an unbelievable chaos. Both blamed the other. They each planned a murder with guns. Carla pointed the gun at Milton and pulled the trigger. Her manner was sloppy. The bullet missed and made a hole in the print of John Constable’s Flatford Mill hanging crooked on the wall. Milton was more precise. He pointed the gun but simply could not finish the job.

They both agreed – what the heck! They compromised. These days they manage to help each other out.

1929. One never knows

When Elaine and Charlie announced their marriage engagement everyone knew instinctively that it was a relationship concocted in heaven. They were perfect for each other. Both were mean. Both were snarky. Both could be malicious. In no time they’d knock the rough corners off one another. It wasn’t so much cruelty of action; it was cruelty of tongue. Both could make ground meat out of a tough steak simply by verbal lashing.

The engagement period seemed to go well. There were no volcanic eruptions – much to everyone’s disappointment. Then the wedding day arrived and they had chosen a simple wedding in a little country church, with just a few friends and family members. They returned from an extensive honeymoon even more convivial than when they left. The pundits’ disappointment continued.

Next came a baby, and another, and a third. This was getting ridiculous. The relationship wasn’t meant to last. Pre-nuptial common sense demanded a marriage breakdown.

And then one day Elaine lost her job as a school secretary. Apparently she had expressed an opinion that favoured the wrong political party. That was when the waspish habits of bygone years leaped back into gear. Both Charlie and Elaine stood in front of the principal’s desk.

They hadn’t lost the touch. No indeed!

That was years ago. They’re grandparents now. Many of their acquaintance’s marriages have disintegrated. One never knows.

1904. Marriage Enrichment Program

Lucia and Basil were a most annoying couple – and they weren’t even married. They had lived at the same address for eleven years. What was annoying about that? What riled Christian and Deliah was they had gone along to the Marriage Enrichment sessions only to discover in the end that the facilitators weren’t even married. They were full of advice as to what to do and what not to do. And they argued. In fact they spent most of the sessions spitting tacks at one another.

“It came as a shock to us,” said Rupert. “Molly and me went along to the Marriage Guidance sessions to enrich our marriage and we got lectured at by two people who have never taken the plunge. Their conduct was appalling.”

“I can’t believe it,” said Hilary of Plazaville. “Herman and I attended knowing that our marriage was headed for the rocks, and all we got was superficial advice from a couple of people who didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. In fact it was like looking in the mirror to hear Lucia and Basil have a shouting match for a good half hour.”

“Ferdinand and I were engaged to be married and we thought pre-nuptial sessions would not simply enrich the day but enrich our future as well,” said Katie. “It was hardly enriching to be told that the institution of marriage was antiquated. And we’d paid good money for the course. It made us wonder if we should get married immediately and not wait until we had paid off the mortgage.”

“I was glad, although it might seem mean, when Basil dropped dead in the middle of spouting about marriage when he’d never even been married,” said Hilda. “I couldn’t help but think that reality catches up with everyone. Seeing Lucia go into hysteria almost made the cost of the course worthwhile. At least she wasn’t screaming at Basil anymore.”

“That’ll learn ‘em is what I say,” said Fred. “All twelve of us on the course agreed before Basil kicked it, that him and Lucia needed to be taught a lesson. That’s why we applauded when Rupert handed Basil a can of Mountain Dew and said ‘Cheers! Drink this!’ And that was curtains for him.”

“We all concur,” added Molly, “that the whole incident has certainly enriched our marriages. Rupert and I are talking again, and I believe other couples have had similar experiences.”

The organizers of the Marriage Enrichment Program have advertised for a new couple to run the next group of sessions. The couple must be diffident in their relationship. And unmarried.

1898. The dead tree

I don’t know if you can see the photo of these two old trees. One’s dead, and the other is barely alive. My husband and I planted these trees years and years ago. He’s dead now – the husband. He planted the dead one. I planted the other one, the one that’s gnarled and barely alive. I’ll be eighty-seven this coming October.

There used to be a house roughly where the person taking the photo would be standing. That was our house. The first and only house we had. The two children were born there. It was our dream place; a lovely house, not too big and not too small, set on twelve acres of what could only be described as park land. We planted those two trees (and a number of others here and there) as part of the “landscaping” of our park. Our life was like a perpetual honeymoon.

Jude had built the house himself. And I helped of course, as best I could. I sewed drapes and did the painting and wall-papering and so on. Jude was the one with the saw and the hammer and the screw driver and the muscle. It was like a dream come true!

After the birth of the second child things fell apart. We’d been in the house for four years and we put it up for sale. No one ever bought it and Jude disappeared before any divorce proceedings began. I leased out most of the land to a neighbouring farmer and stayed in the house with the children. They’re gone now – the children. Tony’s a lawyer up in the big city, and Rachel manages a business that teachers adults how to do basic computer things.

My current house gets quite cold in winter, so I’ve asked Tony to come and cut down that dead tree for firewood. The one that’s barely alive has a few more years left in it. It might sound cruel but I’m looking forward to burning logs of Jude’s tree throughout the winter. It’s good he’s serving some purpose at this stage of my life. Apart from building the house he wasn’t much good for much when he was here. In fact he was useless. And mean; really mean. It’s why I did him in.

1880. No bucket list

How pathetic is that? Caleb had been given six months by the specialist, and he didn’t want to make a bucket list. How backward is that? It’s not as if he was incapacitated. It would be a while before that happened. The disease would slowly work its way towards completion. There was plenty of time to write a bucket list and see the list come true. Provided it was practical.

But no! Caleb would have none of it. “Why on earth would I want a bucket list?” he said to his wife, Leticia. Leticia had been the one who carped the most about his creating such a list.

Why don’t you climb that mountain? You’ve always wanted to.
Why don’t you go to visit the Soda Factory Museum? You’ve always wanted to.
Why don’t you take up golf? You’ve always wanted to.

It seemed that Leticia had made out a bucket list for him. Of course, it was her way of coping with the impending doom that waited down the track. She was doing her best, and perhaps some of these things on the list they could do together – and for the last time. Perhaps they could make a few more memories.

In the end, Leticia won the day! Together they climbed the mountain, both physically and figuratively. “It was very satisfying,” said Leticia. “We’re both feeling pleased with ourselves! The view from the top was stunning. And such a happy memory!”

Together they went to the Soda Factory Museum. “We’ve always wanted to do it,” said Leticia. “It’s so silly really, because the Museum is just down the road. Only twenty minutes away by car. So at last we’ve done it and it was fascinating to understand the history of soda manufacturing.”

Together they played golf. In fact Caleb and Leticia went to the golf course once a week. It was a measure of Caleb’s health and strength. At first they played eighteen holes; later, fifteen holes was enough. Still later it was nine holes; then four. After that, they never went again. “But it was such fun,” said Leticia. “It was something we did together that we both enjoyed.”

The sad day arrived. Caleb passed on. No matter how prepared one is for the death of a spouse, it’s never at all like one imagined.

Cleaning out his things Leticia came across a small piece of paper tucked away as a bookmark:

My bucket list:
To make Leticia happy.

1853. Goldfish pond murder

The murder had been a long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait. Dale’s third wife, Damaris, had tragically drowned. One minute she was sitting in a wheelchair in the sunshine reading Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind and the next minute she herself was gone – floating dead in the garden goldfish pond, wheelchair and all.

Husband Dale was distraught. “I never knew wheelchairs could float,” he gasped at the policeman. People in morning sometimes say the silliest things. Later he added something about “fortunately she didn’t get the book wet.”

It must be stated clearly from the beginning that Damaris didn’t need to sit in the wheelchair. She was perfectly well in all respects. Her visiting sister, Brierley, was using the chair because she had sprained an ankle while messing around with Dale in the garden. Brierley had gone inside the house “to have a rest and put her foot up” and Damaris was sitting in the wheelchair because it was convenient and she liked to watch the fish. Suddenly the unbraked wheelchair went whizzing into the goldfish pond, and although Damaris was a reasonable swimmer she couldn’t untangle herself from the chair.

The deed was done! It was a tragic accident. As soon as they can dry the wheelchair Brierley will be making a fast entrance down the aisle of the nearest church. Let’s hope Dale doesn’t try any funny business with his latest wife. After all, Brierley has secret, perhaps handy, photographs of Dale holding Damaris under water.