Dad's life: How will I cope when my wife is in New York?

Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 06:00

‘So, like, don’t go mental or anything, but I’m thinking of taking off to New York for a couple of days.”
My wife works in communications so I have learned over many years not to interrupt her when she announces something. Information is drip-fed on a need-to-know basis. You might think her taking off to the States might be something I need to know, but there are obviously further details to be revealed and I must not need to know them quite yet.

I stay quiet and turn on the cool gaze. I look out of the kitchen window at her car with the rear opening mechanism hanging off the boot that she has put off fixing for the past 18 months because she hasn’t the money spare and think, sure, why not, a few days in NYC. Why wouldn’t she?

She seems unnerved by my silence. She expects, I know, a tirade. I might have the upper hand; it is a strange feeling. I steeple my fingers and angle my head, giving it the full therapist. Obviously my brain is bouncing off the walls of my skull – what? Are ye serious? Why stop in New York? Take a month, check out LA, Hawaii, Rio. No worries here, back in the real world, we’ll be grand.

“It’s the twins’ birthday and we decided we’d all meet up over there. I’ve got accommodation covered, and I’ll even work two days of the trip, so travel won’t affect us. It’s all set.”

How will I manage?
The twins, her sisters: and it’s a big birthday. If I’d jumped in from the outset, I’d be the bear who wanted to halt a family reunion, deprive them of the pleasure of seeing one another. The miserable, family-hating git that I am. But no, I am the smooth, savvy hubby who knows when he’s being played.

If I’d gone screaming down the money route, pulling out my hair at her flitting off abroad as I convince Visa we’re still a viable option, the fact that travel expenses were a work cost would have been played like a straight flush.

Now we don’t know what to do. She has announced her intentions which seem realistic and perfectly acceptable, and I haven’t reacted like someone just told me there’d be no mince pies next Christmas.

I realise I have yet to speak. “How long will you be away for?” I ask.

“Five days. We’re heading on a Thursday, back on a Tuesday.”

Five days. Five bloody days. I have to work, I have very important things to do, TV to watch, people to meet for coffee, how am I suppose to manage on my own for five bloody days? The inside of my noggin is taking a pounding today. I do not combust.

“But,” she says, “I’ve already been on to your mother and she says she’ll come down and give you a dig-out for three of those.”

I’m conscious she’s examining my face, paying particular attention to eyes and ears, looking, I presume, for leaking rivulets of blood. I rub my face and my hand comes away dry.

She’s going to New York for five days. If what she says is true, it will not cost me a penny. My work and very important personal care regime may not be unduly affected in her absence as a result of her having made provision for my needs. She has covered all bases. I have no reason to be annoyed. My natural tendency to churlishness seems churlish here. What can one do with this information but be happy for her?

“When are you going?”

“Two weeks’ time.”

“Two weeks?” And there I have it, the hook I need. “You’ve already booked the lot, haven’t you? The only reason you didn’t tell me earlier is because you didn’t want to hear me bitch and moan for a prolonged period. You figured you’d leave it to the last moment without being unnaturally rude for the disclosure of such information within a marital scenario. You thought I’d be a nightmare. Am I right?”

She doesn’t even hesitate, “Yes, you’re right.”

“Well, y’know what? I am going to be the bigger man here. I am happy for you taking off for a little Celtic Tiger city break with your sisters. I hope you have a marvellous time and I am delighted to take care of the house and our children while you’re gone.”

Of course, she got it bang on. My jealousy and resentment know no bounds. Every minor quibble in the small window between disclosure and departure has been resolved with, “Well, what does it matter? You’re fecking off on us to America anyway. Go on, ye showboatin’ Yankee.”

Wish she’d waited another week.
abrophy@irishtimes.com