I am married to Charlie Chaplin.
Not the real one of course. He’s dead and that would be a bit, well, mixed up. But I’m absolutely certain that the hapless clown’s spirit is alive and kicking now in my wife Debbie. Think of all the disastrous pickles Chaplin and his audience enjoyed, and you have a mirror image of my wife’s normal day.
I should stress that the moustache and bowed legs have yet to show themselves but, you never know.
Debbie has a unique sense of direction that could lead her to end up on the walk of fame in Hollywood only if she originally set out to find her way from the bathroom to her wardrobe. Her best friend is her sat nav, and even that often says something like “for God’s sake Debbie turn right means turn right, you know, not left. Think of the hand that you pick your nose with.”
We have just returned from a week’s stay in Portugal, and last Wednesday we were walking back to our hired car after a particularly nice meal when I turned round and she had gone. Disappeared in to thin air. I soon saw her trying to open the passenger door on someone else’s car and when I called to her, the excuse was that the vehicle was the same colour as ours. It wasn’t. The same make? Nope. Parked near where we had left ours? Again, no.
The same thing happened two days later in a supermarket car park where she walked past me sitting in our car and tried to get in to another one fifty metres away on the other side. Did she not notice I wasn’t in the driver’s seat, I asked? She said she assumed I’d put the seat down for a kip. I worry that anyone who happened to be in the Algarve last week must think my wife breaks in to cars for fun.
Yesterday it got worse. Flying home, Debbie was taken aside and asked to put her hand luggage in a special measuring box to ensure she hadn’t exceeded her allowance. I couldn’t help as they had already ushered me through after checking my passport, so I had to look on over the turnstile while she punched, kicked and pushed her case to fit in the grid. After several minutes she succeeded and the line of people around her cheered. So, Debbie being a ham, took a bow, lost her footing, staggered backwards, and then knocked down the luggage sign while falling on the floor. Chaplin would have been proud.
Apparently I have faults too, though I’ve no idea what they could possibly be, so pointing out any odd behaviour to Debbie results in me being asked “I suppose you’re perfect, are you?” Modesty, of course, means I never give the correct answer.
On several occasions I will find her reading yesterday’s paper saying “I dreamt this was going to happen,” and I have to point out that she already read it the day before and that’s why it seems familiar. Occasionally she’ll watch an old detective drama we’ve already seen, not remembering anything about it, which makes me look clever as I can “guess” who the murderer is. But when I’m away working I dread to think what happens. Does she worry why she can’t get a letter in the post box and then discover it’s an ATM slot? Does she go to buy shoes for winter and wonder why she can’t get them in Boots?
So, what do I do? Should I try to make her like everyone else, or just enjoy the fact that she’s a one off, a blind navigator, a person who can’t recognise cars, a forgetful television viewer, and someone who falls over in airports? And did I mention that she’s tone deaf? In a recent pub quiz she refused to believe me that the song ‘Danny Boy’ was also known as the Londonderry Air, and she refused to write down in the answer box. The reason? She’s never heard it before and thought I said to write down The London Derriere.
You may think I’m making things up here, or exaggerating, but I swear it’s all true. When we argue I can’t even send her to Coventry, because she would get lost.
But a pal of mine tells me his wife is the same and that it’s a girl thing, something we guys have to just accept, so I guess the ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ thing is true. Men and women are simply so different we might as well be on other planets.
I’ll try to embrace the differences, I promise. But there’s just one thing I don’t understand. How did Debbie find her way here from Venus in the first place without getting lost.