It’s a night out with the girls, and it’s great fun as always. We all gush over how gorgeous we’re looking, and all the ups and downs since we last met up. I love that part of the evening, when we’re all on a high just seeing each other, pooling sympathy and praise, bathing in wine and bawdy laughter. It’s the next part I don’t like, once the alcohol starts to properly kick in, and the conversation gets nasty, bitchy. They each have a standard boyfriend, with the usual damning flaws. They seem to hate them, but all they want to do is get married to these same men that they hate.
“Oh my God, how can anyone’s feet smell so bad? Is it a disease? Should I get him a doctor?”
“What I don’t get is how he can just sit in filth and not notice, and then when I complain, he asks me what needs doing! Like I’m the only one with eyes!”
“Just once, just once I’d like to know what he thinks about something real, not football, not a film, but real life, real people.”
“And what about you Lisa, how is your man?” and they all turn to me with a sneer, as if they think I’m intimidated by their miserable lives. They don’t even get the stupidity of thinking that the men they spend hours slagging off are superior to my Martin.
“He’s fine. He’s great, actually,” I say, wanting to pay tribute to the man I love, while also wanting to move the conversation on as soon as possible. I know where this could end up, and I want it to stop.
“Well, I suppose you don’t have to worry about smelly feet!” says Jennifer. “And oh my God, that reminds me, do you know what John said to me last night?” The gossip moves on, and it’s a relief.
Opening up my front door that night, I get that snuggly feeling of home. Even as I push the door open, the hall lights come on, and Martin’s voice calls from the sitting room,
“Hi honey, you’re home!” He loves making that joke, every time, and I love him for it.
“Hiya!” I shout back, as I pull off my boots and hang up my coat.
“I’ll stick the kettle on, you could probably do with a nice cup of tea.” He says, and I hear the kettle click on in the kitchen.
“You know me so well,” I say, collapsing onto the sofa, as soothing music starts playing over the speakers. Awkwardly he sits down next to me, puts an arm around me as I snuggle up to his chest. He smells like cinnamon and plastic, that warm, comforting smell.
“What’s this? I like it.” Martin always knows what music I like, it’s part of his programming.
“Beethoven. Did you have a good night out?”
“Hmm, I guess. They were all bitching about their men, as usual.”
“Saaaad,” says Martin, he’s been programmed with eighties slang, it always makes me laugh.
“I don’t ever bitch about you though,” I say, “you’re perfect.”
Martin knows he doesn’t need to answer, instead, without moving, he switches on the TV, it’s that evening’s episode of Coronation Street I’d forgotten was on.
“Some easy entertainment, just what I need,” I say, hugging him tighter, a warmth glows from his stomach as the element heats up, and he hugs me tighter back. I don’t really need to tell him he’s perfect, he knows it, he was programmed to be.