My Wife Ruth
My dear wife, Ruth, loved me. I know because she ended every sentence obsessively with the words, “love you”. I am sure this was a subconscious reflex; however, it destroyed my attempts to win any debate with her or even argue sensibly. How could I when she would nip the air with, “I don’t think so. Love you, honey”. Subconsciously my mind would respond, “hate you”, an endless repetitive dictum which over decades developed into a fantasy of plotting her demise.
She ruled our marriage with a precision of lists and with a specific order of events, jobs to do, programmes or films to watch, books to read and friends to call on. I couldn’t argue since marking birthdays and anniversary dates onto the calendar made sense. However, she was oblivious to the standing jokes from her colleagues in the library or even the obvious mimicking from our milkman. I heard him say, “I’ll add whipped cream to the list, Mrs Cornice, love you, honey.”
It was the Saturday shopping list that haunted me; the nightmare of them all. She had a different list for each Saturday of the month and repeated it every four weeks. Washing powder on the first Saturday, cooking oil on second Saturdays, and so it went on. The meticulously planned route through the supermarket would ensure we collected all the items in the correct order. I placed every item into the trolley and subsequently removed them to ensure the receipt provided proof of correctness and corresponded line for line on the list. Ruth became distraught when the manager reorganised the layout of the grocery aisles. She told the manager it was unthinkable and finished her rant with, “Love you, honey”.
Today I was ecstatic because I was shopping on my own and without a list. I wandered around as random as a bee in search of pollen. I ignored the sliced bread normally on every list. I avoided the fish counter – a third Saturday item– instead I collected a bottle of German Dornfelder wine; never on any list. I thought, what would she say if she knew about my lunch; a large cut of Italian ham, succulent and moist, with crusty French bread. For dessert, I bought a sweet mango yogurt and a pineapple, two items I would normally pass by to collect the oranges on Ruth’s fruit list.
She bought toiletries only on Wednesdays whenever she shopped alone. She treated me to the same bar of shaving soap every month. But today, I added shaving Gel and a new Gillette razor to my basket because yesterday; I had sharpened and used my old open razor for the very last time.
Oh, I do still love my dear wife, but her obsession for lists and ritual precision became unbearable and drove me to psychopathic madness. At least I now know she was right about how premeditated thought and a perfect plan complete with check lists ensured I considered every eventuality. I could never fault her idealism and application of order with her doctrine of neatness. That is why I know; no one will ever miss my dear obsessive wife or ever discover where she has gone. Love you, honey.