It appears that, for my family, I can’t get “properly” angry.
According to my mother, that’s due to laziness, and believe me, she might hate gyms, but when it comes to picking a fight over her principles (and she has plenty of them), she is not a lazy woman!!
My daughters, instead, blame it on my lack of coordination. According to them, especially when driving, I am far too slow to react, and so by the time I register the offence I’ve been a victim of, I find my voice to swear and finally push the right spot on the steering wheel to use the horn, It’s far too late. Whoever wronged me has either left or already forgotten what he did to cause my upset, making me look like a total lunatic.
“You should overtake them and show your finger…” Daughter number one once suggested.
“What? Where did you get that? We don’t do that, besides it’s dangerous, your grandmother tried once, and a very angry track driver followed her home.” I replay, not specifying that I was in the car with her, still a child, and that’s probably why I don’t argue much on the road.
“It never happened to papa, and he does it all the time.” God bless kids’ innocence!
“He does not!” I reply fighting for my husband’s decency.
“Oh yes, he does! All the time when we are in Italy .” She replays candidly, “Right C?” and I don’t have to say that daughter number two enthusiastically confirms it.
“He had never done it with me!”I keep fighting for my husband’s honour.
“Because you are never in the car when he does it, and you know what he can do too? ” I am not sure I want to know it, no, but it seems I have no choice, “He can roll down the window and give out to other drivers at the same time!!” WOW, that’s classy!
“Ok, I got it!!!! ” I say defeatedly. Fighting for the travelling husband’s decency is a lost battle, and I have to accept that I can compete with a family of professional anger show off….until the day I can!!!
Stay tuned to hear what happens when Ortensia gets “properly” angry.
First business trip in many many years. Well, what can I say, it was a huge excitement…for me, the rest of the household just survived it. “Will this travelling thing become a regular thing?” Daughter number two asked over the phone while I was away. “No, darling, it’s just a one-off, why?” I naively ask. “Because the house is falling apart without you!” “OH, come on, don’t be catastrophic,” I say laughing and thinking that I am going to be away only for two and a half days; except on my return, I realise what she meant.
The travelling husband, after digesting that this time it is me travelling and he had to stay home, kindly collects me at the airport. Because is on a call and we don’t get to properly greet each other, it’s only when we get to the car and he hands me the keys to drive that I notice that his left middle finger is wrapped in a blood-stained bandage. Eventually, once we arrive home, he got off his call, but” before I can ask what happened to his finger, with a tone expressing all the exhaustion of the last two days he says:” Sorry love, but I had already moved this call twice being off the last two days….” -Off? For two days? Why?- But before I can ask my face had already given me away and he tells me that it was far too much to deal with the cooking, the girls, and the dogs all at the same time and all on his own. He had to take some time off work. Putting aside the urge to reply that it is what I do daily plus I slip into “all that” also 4 hours of work and some housework that a brief look around the house tells me he didn’t do, I ask what happened to his finger. He cleaned the Oven!!! At 11 at night!!!! Now, refrain myself from any reaction was very very hard but I managed and tried my best to sound concerned about his injury I asked for more details.
On Thursday, the men’s tennis night was cancelled and so after he couldn’t take any more junk TV, the travelling husband was suddenly possessed by the urge of cleaning the oven. And why he tells me this he shows me with great pride how sparkling the oven doors are now. Just like new! Unfortunately, the inside of the oven is nothing like the outside because he hooked his middle finger in the rotisserie before he could finish cleaning and, unable to stop the bleeding, he had to run to the hospital. ”Oh jeez, that must have been painful. And the girls? Did they panic?” I ask. “They were fine, CG was already in bed nearly asleep and A, she came with me.” “You left our younger daughter at home alone in the middle of the night and took our eldest with you not knowing how long you would have stayed there? What if something happened to you or if they kept you in? What would she have done?” My tone is now shifting from concerned to pissed off (excuse my french). “I would have sent her home with a taxi.” He answers. “Of course! Stupid for me not to think about the obvious. But why did you bring her in the first place? Not that she could drive you home.” I replay sarcastically. One brief look at the husband’s face and I knew what was coming:” I would have taught her. It’s such a short drive…”. Sure “sarcasm is not a travelling husband’s thing! “She is 16 !!!” The dumb me insists. “Well, she drives the boat already..” He states with his usual factual practicality. I can’t really argue with his twisted logic and so I attack from a different angle: ” What the f…k.!Why in the hell did you clean the oven? Could you not hoovering the floor or do some laundry instead? Maybe clean the bathrooms?” I shout now officially pissed, (and excuse my french again). “Yes maybe, but look at the oven now. It’s like new!” Pride is all over his face until I inform him that are professionals coming to the house to clean the oven inside out for 50 euros. “Oh, I didn’t know that..” I won’t hide I took some pleasure to see his confidence trembling but it doesn’t last long: “Well, anyway we saved 50 quid!”. His pride is back and I want to go for his throat till my attention goes to the fresh drops of blood on the floor.
“I think some of the stitches fell off,” I say, and this time with some genuine concern. “ I don’t have stitches, I didn’t think I need them.” My eyes immediately go to the ridiculously fat bandage on his middle finger now bleeding all over, “What do you mean you thought you didn’t need them? What the doctor said?” “I haven’t seen the doctor, only the nurse who stopped the bleeding and put the bandage on.” “What the nurse said then?” “She said to wait for the doctor.” “So you did talk to the doctor?” I am trying to stay calm and patient now….but it’s sooo hard! “Oh no, I should have waited for at least an hour and a half and as I was not bleeding anymore I left.” Do you know when they say to pick your battles? Well, I suppose this was one of those times you have to do that, and so I just look down at the blood dripping from the bandage and then up to him defeatedly speechless. ” Ah don’t worry, love, I’ll fix it. I just need some piece of hard plastic to press the cut and then I’m sure some paper stitches will do the trick!”He reassures me. -Holy posy! Over 20 years and I have never realised I was married to McGiver!!! If only he would now also mop the blood off the floor.
I know that my excitement for these 20 years of being MRS travelling husband might sound a bit over the top, especially considering there are couples out there who are married for 50/60 years and more, but if we add the two years we were already living together and the total 34 years we have been known each other, does a total of 56 years together. Yessss, I am fully aware that the math is wrong here, but I just want to give you the idea of this being a very special wedding anniversary and a frecking huge achievement. 20 years of sharing domestic spaces, bills, kids, dogs and in-laws ( and believe me, none of us was lucky with their in-laws!). And if that was not enough, we also managed to survive the so-called middle age crisis without HIM running away with some random bimbo met during one of his business trips, or Me following my crazy hormones and planning a murder after finding the umpteenth empty mug on top of the dishwasher instead of inside it.
Back to the anniversary celebrations, I had to choose the venue, or to be precise the food and the wine, because it is essential to get your priorities straight in life, right? I looked up some nice restaurants in Dublin where to go for dinner, checked availability, carefully went through the perfect outfit to wear and just when I was all set to book, daughter number one announced she was leaving for her three days school trip on the day of our anniversary. That meant we had to leave daughter number two on her own, on a school night and while reasonably out of reach. There wasn’t gonna be any date night in town.
“We can go out for lunch.” The travelling husband suggested as we both agreed that dragging our kid along on a date night was not an option. Unfortunately not even going out for lunch was an option because that Wednesday we were both due in the office.
“Let’s go out on Thursday instead”, he suggested then and since it was now obvious that I was the only one to look at this anniversary as something magical, I gave up and accepted. After all, a late date was better than no date.
Once sorted the venue and time, here comes the hardest part: the present. The ones of you who have been reading the blog for a while know that the travelling husband can be a quite peculiar character. But if only it was that, he is a peculiar character who has everything. To be safe, when it comes to his presents, I normally go for hunting or tennis equipment but after I spent three days browsing around the internet looking for accessorises he still doesn’t have, I realised that if he still doesn’t have them, there is a reason: they are shitty and useless. Plus I wanted something special to mark the day. Then I remembered that a few times he mentioned how he would have liked a bench to place beside the BBQ. “A proper man bench. A big comfortable traditional solid wood bench.” I think he said looking at my lovely two seats cast iron bench. After a few days of surfing the web looking for a 5/6 foot wooden bench weather resistant and rainproof that wouldn’t require any maintenance or be covered for winter ( and believe me it was not an easy task), I found the perfect one. Unfortunately, the timing of the delivery was not as perfect. At least it was early and not late and we both did a pretty good damn job trying to ignore the massive package sitting for days in the hallway saying BENCH on his front side. It was not exactly a surprise but he loved it.
If you are now wondering about my present, so was I and because I am a curious monkey I sneakily went to see what he got me…..and I really shouldn’t have to!
In fairness, when he told me that he went shopping with daughter number one I should have known nothing good could come out of it. Not to be mean but the last time she went shopping on her own she came back with a second-hand jacket part of an eighties tracksuit set that every time there is a bit of wind it inflates in the back making her look like a pigeon. And yes the jacket is a kind of stripy pigeon colour. Anyway back to my present, I regretted my curiosity but it was too late and I couldn’t unsee what I had just seen. What I could do, instead, was to use the time that I left before the anniversary to practise my acting skills and look pleasantly surprised when opening my fancy jar of orange and whiskey marmalade.
For the first time in many years, the travelling husband had disappointed me with a present and our special day was not going to be that special at all. I suddenly and depressingly went from looking forward to my 20th anniversary to looking forward to being done and over with it. Except depressing is not my thing and I like celebrations!!! Nobody was taking this anniversary away from me, despite my crap present, and I was not going to celebrate on a day that was not my anniversary!
” I don’t want to go into town on Thursday, it’s not the same, I want to celebrate on the day of our actual anniversary even if it means staying at home with a takeaway curry!” I stormed out. ” And I have the right equipment for a perfect date night.” The travelling husband responded with a big proud smile.
Ok, now I was lost, and my mind maliciously wondered about what he meant. Obviously, he referred to my present sooo….Did he want to cover me in marmalade? Or did he want to surprise me by showing up covered in marmalade himself? I pictured the two options in my head and it didn’t look good! We are far too old and curvy to play 9 1/2 weeks.
Eventually, it was the anniversary day. I got up first went down, fed the dogs, made breakfast and blew some love heart shape balloons. Then, when I heard the husband was coming down, I barely dare to look at the kitchen door fearing to see him showing up wearing nothing but a layer of marmalade. I won’t hide my huge relief when he entered the room fully dressed and holding two presents.
The marmalade jar turned out to be just a distraction, he knew I was going to look for my present. My real present was something else and it was a very special present. Curious to know what it was? It was a waterproof music speaker. I know you might wonder what’s so special about it, but you will agree with me that coming from a man who hates music, turns off the radio when he gets in the car and proudly got to his fifties without ever being at a concert, it is indeed something special. The poor man must have gone through a hell of an ordeal to pick that speaker and make his instead music fanatic wife happy.
Unfortunately for him while his gesture filled my heart with love and gratitude, his present filled our house (no room excluded) with the Iron Maiden, so the question now is: will this marriage survive another 20 years? Well, they say happy wife happy life so we might have some really good chance here, but if it won’t, surely we won’t fight over who is gonna keep the music speaker.
And so it was an ordinary afternoon, and like every ordinary afternoon, I went to collect the girls from school. We got home and I made the fatal question they were waiting to hear back for months, “do you want a snack?”. Since I went back to work full time, in fact, it has been replaced by something sounding more like… ” Sorry girls I have no time . I have to go back to work. Sort yourself out”, with me throwing at them a bag of crisps. Yes I know, shame on me, crisps!!! Anyway, let’s not dwell on it and let’s focus instead on the fact that since I am now working part-time, the after-school snacks routine had resumed. This particular Monday afternoon it was a typical chilly end of summer day and so I thought that a nice cup of cioccolatti would do them good.(*cioccolatti is the word the girls started to use as toddlers, in their unsuccessful attempt to speak Italian, to refer to a beverage that’s nothing but hot milk with some cacao ). Now that they are both in secondary school and they can properly speak Italian we still use the word and they can have it in their bedrooms to not waste any precious time that they could instead profitlessly use on their phones!!! You thought for a minute I was going to say to study, eh? Anyway, let’s not dwell on that either and let’s go back to me, diligently toasting their crumpets and preparing their two mugs of cioccolatti. I put everything on a tray under the vigil eye of big years German who is hoping for something to fall and I start climbing the stairs, closely followed by Gino who, instead, is actively trying to make something fall, except he doesn’t have to make the greatest effort as I end up to do a pretty good job myself.
It all happens in a fraction of a second, I missed the last step and while I fall face down, the tray flies up in the air. The wall, the stairs, the carpet everything is covered in cioccolatti. I looked at the devastation around me, and after an initial impulse to cry and run away, I take a big breath and I assess the damages trying to decide what requires my attention first. The carpet! For sure I don’t want it to get soaked more than it is already, despite the great effort of the dogs to try to lick as much cioccolatti of it as they can.
I send the girls to lock Gino and Kurt in the garden while I get a bucket and some bleach. I kneel down and start scrubbing, and scrubbing, and scrubbing. Half an hour later the carpet was of the exact same brown colour as it was half an hour before, but at least instead of milk, it smelt of bleach, along with my jeans that now have two white circular stains on the knees. I might try to launch a new trend…
Time now to tackle the stairs glass panels, that in the meantime were still dripping cioccolatti. Well, guess what? It’s hard enough to clean them without leaving marks and streaks in normal conditions, after splashing them with warm milk and cocoa is nearly a mission impossible. I washed them and dried them at least 6 times, and then I simply decided that the fact that at least they didn’t smell sour milk anymore had to be enough for me to be satisfied and work on the wall. The wall! The one thing I should have washed first instead of last! A pity I only realised it three days later. Yes, you heard me, it took me three days, a bottle of bleach and one of cherry flavour washing up before I could eventually climb the stairs without having the impression that three sets of twin babies had just thrown up their last meals all over my landing.
And if you may be wonder where the travelling husband was in all this. Well, he was travelling, (eventually, after two years he went back travelling 🥳) and only came back on Friday, right in time to enjoy the cherry aroma our walls are now infused with and admire the new rug on the landing….Now, let’s just hope he won’t lift it !!!