It’s Thursday night and it’s getting dark outside. It’s a real struggle to release myself from the warm embrace of the sofa to close the curtains.
“Ha!” shrieks my wife.
“Ha, what?” I say.
“Our stand-off. Who breaks first and closes the curtains.”
“I didn’t know we did that.”
“Yes we do. And I’m winning.”
Dwindling sexual activity can be a sign that your relationship is dying, but if you find yourself having imaginary curtain stand-off competitions, I’d call a priest.
But we have a plan.
To keep things zesty, one day every year we flip parental roles. A whole day walking in eachother’s shoes. It helps rebuild our bridges by tapping into the hidden story of each other’s day.
It’s probably best if you know what our existing roles are. They’re very traditional. My wife takes responsibility for burying the family pets – sometimes she even waits till they’re dead – and it’s my job to answer questions about the 1980s.
Role Reversal Day.
“Remember,” I say to my wife. “I’m you today.”
“Monday’s are busy for me. You won’t cope.”
“I’ve already started doing your chores,” I say.
“Really?” she replies. “Such as?”
“I got up early and killed all the houseplants.”
“I don’t kill the houseplants,” she replies. “I neglect them over a long period of time. Big difference. Keep up.”
“Have you done any of my chores yet?” I ask.
“Yes. I’ve just googled Jennifer Aniston’s fake nipples.”
“They’re real,” I say.
“Fake. Nipples can’t be that hard for that long.”
This goes on for a while.
Flip-Over Day is my idea. I dreamed it up five years ago. About the same time I invented ‘Love Rockets’.
I was getting seriously fed up with Valentine’s night. I’ve never understood why couples go out for a big, luxury meal and then have sex. Why not have the sex first? Rather than wait till you’re full of gammon.
So, on Valentine’s night I drive my wife out to a deserted field, passing all the gammon-munching perverts, then I launch two rockets. Each rocket represents our love for each other. The whole thing only lasts twenty minutes, which means we’ve got plenty of time to get home, dismiss the babysitter and have a curtain stand-off.
“Ok,” I say. “What do I need to do first?”
“Food shopping. You need to go to that store where everybody just buys bread and vodka.”
“Don’t get cocky kid. Let’s see how you get on at the bread & vodka shop first.”
“One question. Am I allowed to…”
“No. You are not allowed to buy anything from Aldi’s random aisle of shit.”
The random aisle of shit is my only food shopping highlight. I find the stark juxtaposition of products exhilarating. Last time I went in, I saw a plastic croquet set being sold next to an industrial log turning machine. Both £4.99. To be honest, I think they’ll have a hard time shifting these products, because since Brexit, there’s been a distinct lack of croquet playing lumberjacks entering the country.
Twenty minutes later I’m balls deep in the random aisle of shit when I get a text from my wife.
‘I know what you’re doing’. It says.
‘Gammon’s on offer’. I reply.
‘No thanks. Newsflash. You have to pick the teen up from school’.
Twenty minutes later…
BANG! The teen slams the car door shut.
“How was school?” I ask.
“Meh,” he replies.
We drive on. He plays with his phone. Tap, tap, tap.
We arrive home and the house is sitting in darkness.
BANG! The teen slams the car door shut. Tap, tap, tap. We enter the house. It’s eerily silent.
“Dad, where’s mum?” he asks.
“It’s Role-Reversal Day. She’s doing what I do.”
“Hiding from the world?” he says smugly, and slithers back into the cocoon of his phone.
It’s then, out of the corner of my eye, I notice muddy footprints leading towards the back door. The door is unlocked and banging in the breeze. I start to worry.
“Has anyone…” I say.
“Has anyone what?” asks my son, as we both creep towards the unknown.
“Has anyone bought any new pets lately?”