When I first met my wife I got quite a shock (as she is such a beauty obvs.). And when we moved in together and began to share a bed I got another shock but a bit less of one this time. Every morning after I left our bedroom, she would linger for a minute or two and on emerging she would declare that she had made the bed. By this she meant that she had puffed and arranged the pillows (fine), shaken and arranged the duvet (great, lovely) and covered (or locked as I will be referring to it from here on) the whole bed in a huge white *Ikea bedspread which reached to the floor (not ok). Of course a bed that is covered – by anything – is immediately in a flagrant breach of the main rule of beds which is:
A bed must be ready to receive its occupants at all times.
It hardly needs saying, yet I shall say it anyway (chiefly in order to raise my word count): a covered bed equals a locked bed and a locked bed is just not ok. The locked bed causes a stalling of the most luxurious part of the day, where you should be dropping clothes on the floor and expelling negative thoughts about not having been bothered to brush your teeth. But instead you must first remove, then fold the offending bedspread and secrete it in the wardrobe on its allocated shelf ready for reapplication the next morning. My gripe is that by the time I have done (some) of this I am usually so wide awake again that I may as well go and brush my bloody teeth after all. Thankfully, and due to having two kids now, bedspreads in our house (as well as numerous other cleaning/tidying exercises) have been resigned to the annals of history.
It turned out that this “bed-locking” of my wife’s was not an isolated phenomenon. She has since also revealed herself to be a serial mover as well as a prolific put-awayer. By my own standards I am no slob but my tidiness (I do the kitchen) pales into insignificance when compared to E’s. Since we have two have become one, I have become and am resigned to remaining, a specimen of that unfortunate amoeba like organism: the husband in the home. I am simply incapable of finding anything, unless it lives in the fridge. Like milk.
E is the brains, the eyes, the ears, the limbs and the heart of our home. For example, at any given moment her brain might send a message to her eyes to see an item that I have put somewhere. Once seen, her brain will tell her arms and hands to work together to pick the item up. Her brain will then tell her legs to walk to an unusual and illogical location in the house with the item – often somewhere I have never even been – and to put it neatly away in that place. Later, if I want to re-have said item I must ask E to help me find it. To do this I have developed a special quarter-jokey, quarter-whiney, quarter-frustrated and quarter-exasperated tone, which is meant to serve to excuse me from feeling like a total nob-end who can never find anything on his own but obviously does not. If I am near a mirror while shouting to ask her where something is, I may well drop myself a knowing wink, as if I am with a friend, but this does not help either.
These hiding and relocating phenomena of E’s are built on a firm foundation, which I have gradually discovered are the result of a childhood as her father’s daughter. We went to see E’s family last week to show off our newish baby, M and spent the week staying with my wife’s father in his immaculate apartment. Upon arrival and seeing room after room of locked bed (that phrase was for effect as it was only two rooms in total) I was reminded of how far my wife and I have come together since her bed-locking days and I felt a surge of affection and love for her, sure as I was, that later (in bed probably) we would be whispering and joking together about locked beds.
The next evening, not only had our bed been locked by my wife, but on pushing the bedspread to the foot of the bed I was, quite frankly, dismayed to discover that the **duvet beneath had also been folded in half length wise and thus needed lifting, opening and repositioning before I could enter the bed in a satisfactory manner, which I did sullenly while muttering to myself, albeit very quietly so as not to wake baby, M who was sharing our room.
As I say, all my wife’s tricks had been taught to her by my father in-law – the master of all tidying – and although this was not my first visit to his apartment, his item relocation skills this time paled those of my wife into insignificance and were at times, breathtaking. Throughout the rest of our stay, things of mine, or things that I was using, were systematically moved, put away, hidden and quite probably destroyed in controlled explosions in locations of the apartment I have never seen.
A mild example was the moving of my toothbrush from by the sink, into a cupboard beneath the sink, then to back by the sink the next day. Well, as a rat in a maze soon learns the correct path to the opiate, I too learned to look in the cupboard if I could not find my toothbrush by the sink. Unfortunately the rules of the game were fluid and were changed regularly by an unseen hand, and a second, then third cupboard were brought into play. By the end of the week it took me longer to find my toothbrush than it did to brush my teeth. I will not even mention the mysteriously disappearing and reappearing tubes of toothpaste, as I have already wasted enough time on them for one lifetime.
Additionally, my shoes were cached in various unmarked containers and my poor coat was whisked away from the hook I had hung it on before it even had time to begin decompressing. When I discovered late in the week, that my pants and socks had been in the middle draw in my son’s room, between the nappy draw and the dinosaur sock draw, all along, I changed them with glee.
The kitchen – beautiful, new and shiny – was cleaned and polished for an extended period by my father in law every evening to such an extent that I should really have felt intense guilt at wetting the gleaming sink while filling a glass (which would vanish if I so much as took a hand off it) for a drink of water.
One morning, near the end of our stay I emerged from the bathroom having concluded the day’s toothbrush search and subsequent tooth brushing in record time, and I was buzzing with satisfaction. Believing everyone else to be out, I was surprised and concerned to hear the muffled voice of S calling to me faintly. I called back and he called and called but I struggled to find him. As he continued to call I searched high and low for him, trying to locate his voice. I explored all the locations I knew and some that I did not. “Daddy, come,” I heard, as if on the breeze.
“Where are you, S? Shout so I can find you. Shout boy!”
“Daaaaadddddyyyyyy,” louder this time. I was close.
I flung open the door to a cupboard that I could swear had not been there minutes earlier, and tucked away at the front of the top shelf was my little boy. He had been cleaned, dried and folded away so neatly that for a short moment I considered leaving him there as he fitted so very well, and was also no longer in the way at floor level.
“Grandpa put S away,” he explained. Unnecessarily.
*I have absolutely nothing against Ikea and their meatballs.
** The duvet was also a bit short but that is not relevant for the line of complaining that I am currently pursuing, and anyway, keeping my socks on fixed that problem.