To go along with my rant the other day about the chap who found it necessary to have a car-sticker proclaiming his love for his wife, I was also intrigued by something else I saw while on the road.
The road’s a funny place. I’m out and about a few streets these days, and I do perceive that our quiet suburbia is, in fact, a seething cauldron of frustration, small ambitions, and despair.
The sign that I saw was a reflection of all the above. It was an exhortation to men who were “promise keepers” to come to a meeting to proclaim their unity in being godly chaps who kept their word to their spouses.
I’m always tempted to write “spice” instead of “spouses”. The rodent example, of course, but I do feel that every relationship could do with a bit more spice in it.
On topic, now. Promise-keepers. My heart fell when I saw the sign, more because someone has seen the need to remind men that they need to behave as though their word is their bond. It should, of course, go without saying. But why men? Why not… men and women? My understanding is that the divorce rate has been sitting at around 50% for some time now: decades, certainly. And I cannot believe that men are the cause of all that grief. I know for a fact that women cheat on their partners, almost as much as men cheat on theirs.
Society as a whole is doing its best to beat sexism to death. It’s a big job, but it has to happen. But let's not forget that it's a two-lane highway. The god-botherers are the ones hitting at the men these days: a nasty, small-minded result of taking on the mantle of guilt from the sexual and feminist revolutions. Yes, men have / had a lot to answer for. Our behaviour, looked at in today’s light, was appalling. But I think it’s about time we stopped paying for the sins of our fathers, and of our own pasts. It’s time we stopped holding one half of society up as a Nasty Bad Baddy, and started looking at what we can all do together.
People should be “promise keepers”. Not just men.
READING: The Jonathan Littell book. It’s very good, and very disturbing.
LISTENING TO: Damien Rice, “9”. Many thanks to Phil O’Neill, a true gentleman, who introduced me to this startling music-maker.
WORD OF THE DAY: Honour.
More Moana, yay!
There were two world-shaking events happening that day: the Spingboks were playing Taranaki, and the heir to the throne, Charles, the Prince of Wales, was marrying Diana Spencer.
I picked up the phone, called Mum, and told her I could take her Pledging, after all. She was thrilled, and had completely forgotten about our falling out. When I got off the phone I found that Treen had made arrangements with her father to go to the Club with him. I gave her The Look, too. And watched it fall to the floor, totally disarmed and destroyed.
Then I thought. And hatched a plan. The Wedding Party was going to be a little bigger than I had immediately imagined. This was going to be a day to remember.
There were still a couple of hours of morning left,so I got busy. I nipped out and took Mum to the Church, promising to pick her up in a couple of hours. She was good, although I'm not sure she hadn't been at the sherry before putting on her make-up. She looked like a cheap copy of Barbara Cartland – which, given that BC is Diana Spencer's god-mother seemed right for the day. I told Mum my Big Plan, and she was terribly excited about it, insisting she had to be there. And no, I didn't tell her about the pregnancy. I wanted the father to know before her, just this once.
When I got home I whipped up a batch of cheese scones, and muttered quiet “bugger” or two to myself because the Self Help supermarket was a: in Kaweka, and b: closed. It was a Saturday, after all. And I needed dates. Never mind. I got Treen to run down to the dairy and buy a pound, then I got her to make a sticky-date pudding. I hooked a dozen or so sausages out of the freezer, and set them aside to thaw.
I know that this all sounds like I was some sort of domestic goddess, but I wasn't then, and I'm not now. All four of us took turns cooking, washing, and we all pitch in to clean the house - and the D9 bulldozer. Let's face it, they both cost about the same. Also, at the time, I was doing some long-distance study, trying to get my Master's degree. It took me four hard years, but I got it.
While the heat was on in the kitchen, Chutty and Useless were down the back of the yard, pruning the apple and apricot trees. There's just a half dozen trees, so it was less than an hour's work, and Chutty was cheerful when he came in to the Kitchen. He threw himself at the Lazy Boy chair, and grinned at me. “So, Mo: what's the Big Secret, then?”
“What do you mean, Big Secret?” Ours is a family that regularly and often talks in Capital Letters. You can see them, like smoke, when we have a conversation. It's more apparent on debate night – sorry, Debate Night. Debate Night's a bit of a movable feast. It depends entirely on what other obligations we have as a family, and as individuals. At least once every fortnight we get together over the dinner table to, well, to talk. The rules are simple: every one of us is to bring at least one topic to the table, the discussion on each topic to last no more than twenty minutes, and each person's opinions and questions are to be treated seriously. If any one of us doesn't have an opinion, she or he can pass. Simple. Through Debate Night we've learned more about ourselves, self-respect, respect for others, and the world than just about anything else we do together.
I'm the one who's been to University. I'm supposedly the one who has been taught to think. Debate Night was Chutty's idea, which gives you an indication about where the brains and wisdom reside in our home.
Chutty grinned his grin at me, and I felt that warm glow at the pit of my belly. He's still got it. I don't do flustered very well. Never have, and certainly not then. “Has that boy been opening his mouth when he shouldn't?” I asked, sweetly. A carnation plant next door withered with the vinegar in my voice. Chutty remained blasé. “Not only Useless, but Treen, too. Said you had something important to tell me. So, come on. Give.” He was having fun here. He had me backed into a corner, and he knew it. I made my eyes little slits, and glared at him through my lashes. My mind froze,completely. Nothing was working. I had tried everything, My arsenal was empty. For a moment, I was tempted to just come out with it, but, frankly, I had laid my plans, and I was going to stick to them.
“It's a surprise,” I said.
“I gathered that,” he replied. Damn.
“And surprises,” I said, desperately ad libbing, “are best delivered when the surpriser dictates, not the surprisee.”
“And what the hell does that mean?” he asked. Fair enough. Now I had to think of an answer.
“WAS,” I said. Such wit.
“W. A. S. Wait And See. I have a plan,” I said, “and I will not allow my plans to be interfered with by meddling husbands who should know better.”
“Well, how long will I have to wait, then?”