It is Thursday evening and the dishwasher is broken. I am scrubbing the dishes and my wife is drying. She is in a good mood and is busy telling me that she is a ‘happy-go-lucky’ type, and that stabbing her sister was a ‘one-off’. I pass her the big knife to dry.
I watch her dry the knife slowly. “Why did you stab her?” I ask.
“It was nothing really. Something to do with mashed potatoes.” Eyes mesmerised on the knife, I cautiously pass her a clutch of forks. She puts the knife down, picks up the forks and says, “Nice try, but I stabbed her with a fork.”
“Are you taking the piss?” I say.
“You trying to make me angry?” she replies.
I am 16 years into what looks like a 16-year relationship, and tense dish washing episodes are becoming common. I think my mere existence is now reliant on how often the dishwasher breaks down. Some people worry about global warming, I worry about blocked nozzle jets and the efficacy of rinse aid.
“You got any more secrets?” I ask. She waggles the fork around and stares into the mid-distance; deep in thought.
“When I was about ten years old,” she says, “I went to Dustin Gee’s funeral.”
“What! How come you were invited to that?”
What the hell’s going off. When I was a kid I was busy playing with my Subbuteo, but it seems my wife was busy stabbing relatives and gate-crashing celebrity funerals.
If you don’t know who Dustin Gee was, he was in a comedy double act with Les Dennis but he died from a heart attack, or as I am now inclined to think, he may have succumbed to a random fork stabbing.
My wife goes on to explain, “His funeral was held in York and anybody could go. I just managed to get inside – that’s all.”
“When I asked about any more secrets,” I say, “I was hoping for something a bit more, lesbiany.”
My wife rolls her eyes and I pass her a dish. “What about you?” she asks. “Any secrets?”
“Not really, but I did something bad that I regret.”
“Go on,” she says.
“When I was about 12, I locked my brother in the shed for 6 hours.”
“He got out and shot me in the arse with an air rifle. I was grounded for about a month.”
“Why did you lock him in?”
“Because he was trying to shoot me in the arse with an air rifle. He had this air rifle that fired coloured feathered darts. We were always squabbling and my Dad thought it best to hide the gun to stop my brother shooting me. It’s just that he never really hid it that well. To be honest, the gun hiding was so lame, I thought my Dad was encouraging it.”
My wife laughed, threw the cloth in my face and walked out. I was left alone, cloth on my head, thinking about my funny old wife. About how the breaking of the dishwasher had slowed life down a bit and given us the chance to just chat to each other. And how, after 16 years, I was still finding out new things about my wife that I should be afraid of.
I looked down at the broken dishwasher and thought, you, my friend, can brake down as much as you want, because sometimes, just sometimes, when one thing is broken, something else gets fixed.