You worry about how your marriage will evolve with age. You prepare yourself that one day there may not be enough to hold you together and you’ll end up another divorce statistic. What you never consider is that you might end up alone when your husband decides to become a hermit.
As another dinner party looms ominously closer this evening, I’m concerned about getting the old man to actually leave the apartment. I understand that this is a common problem with middle-aged men, who can become so set in their ways they regress back to the behaviour of toddlers who are known to be highly reactive to change and things they don’t want to do.
It is becoming more and more apparent that the old man is not just the grumpy, old, middle-aged sod I had begrudgingly grown to accept, but that he would actually prefer to live on his own and pledge his troth to his man shed and the dog rather than me.
There have been signs of his yearning towards a solitary lifestyle for some time, that I’ve either chosen to ignore or bullied out of him, but the attraction has strengthened with age and as he becomes more intolerant to life in general.
Since he began to work from home, he rarely leaves the apartment unless he has to – for exercise and to buy food. Fortunately for him there is a gym in our building – I call it a ‘gym’, but it’s actually the size of our kitchen, which as you know makes an appearance in the Guinness Book Of Records for being the smallest functioning kitchen ever designed. The gym holds two pieces of equipment, which the old man fights over with the Chinese lady on Level 1, who cleans down the saddle of the bike each day before her husband uses it.
The old man never cleans it down after use.
I managed to persuade him to come out to lunch with me at my favourite noodle restaurant the other day, because he was looking a bit peaky and I had watched an ugly, nervous rash develop when I reminded him about our weekend plans, but he got himself in such a state about the hoards of ‘people’ at the train station that he accidentally rubbed chilli in his eye and ended up crying through the entire meal, then made some excuse about needing to get back to check the post box.
The little conversation he has these days is with The Princess, who does a good impression of listening to him. However, I suspect that she isn’t as bright as we her proud parents like to believe, and so their dialogue is more likely to render her into a permanent state of confusion, and maker her more and more anxious by the day.
I’ve stopped turning around to him now when he says ‘hello, beautiful!’
He occasionally shifts from the two seater sofa to the three seater sofa, I assume to mix things up, which I see as a positive sign when he is such a creature of habit and bagsied the two seater when we first moved into the apartment. No-one apart from the Princess dares sit there.
Instead of going to the golf driving range, he has converted the small area in front of our lounge window into his golf practice area and we have the dents in the ceiling to prove it. He practices his small game down the narrow hallway to the bedrooms and The Princess, a willing partner in their symbiotic relationship, retrieves the ball for him each time.
Meaning there is less and less reason for him to leave the building.
He has told me that he will only holiday in Australia next year and now I am beginning to think that by Australia he actually means the Lower North Shore, which is the area in which we live. He has begun to graffiti ‘keep free’ through weekends in the family calendar.
This is why I expect him to throw himself on the carpet and kick and scream around 6pm this evening.