The Way it Goes (Encounters with the Chaos Theory)

You know the thing whereby a spouse’s lay-in results in expensive orthodontistry…  You don’t?  Well, let me explain…

It starts like this.  Knowing that you are at work the following morning and that your wife is not; you gather together all of your chattels: your keys, your clothes, your shoes, your pocketful of ever-more useless change, and place them carefully in the spare room so that you can shower, dress and leave the house without waking the slumbering beauty.  In the morning, however, you realise that whilst remembering everything else, you have forgotten a belt and, having lost enough weight recently to precipitate an imminent trouser-falling-down scenario without such support, you are forced to slip back into pitch-black bedroom in order to retrieve one.  You creep in, manfully stifling a scream as you stub your toe on a dressing table that has not moved in fifteen years, fall over a wardrobe that most certainly was not there when you left the room and grab the first belt that comes to hand, before exiting with a flesh-coloured bra and something that could just possibly be a pair of leggings wrapped around your ankles.  Thus you end up with a brown belt complete with fancy metal end to wear with grey trousers, grey shirt and black shoes, but, hey-ho, it’s only for work and at least you haven’t woken your wife.

Of course the belt is not only brown and ferric-terminated, it is also too big, which leaves you with a long useless tab that constantly divorces itself from your trousers and hangs, limply useless on your thigh.  (Stop tittering at the back!)  The belt arrangement bothers you all day: it is the wrong colour, it dangles and the metal tip whacks into anything within a three metre radius every time you turn.  You cannot wait to divest yourself of it, especially as it succeeds in constantly wrapping itself around the gear stick on the way home, making the shift from fourth to third particularly uncomfortable.

You arrive home in such a state of high agitation that you really need to take a shower, only to find that your wife – in a fit of super-exuberant cleaning – has managed to wrench the whole thing from the wall.  If turned on now, it would merely clean the ceiling.  You are tempted to ask if she has been cleaning with a sledgehammer, but you think better of it.  A shower is out of the question, but the clamminess of the day persists, so a bath is the only solution.  You can lay back in a bath, relax and ponder the possibility of getting a plumber in any time this side of Christmas.

You do not often take a bath: it is far too time-consuming; it is uncomfortable; it is too hot when you get in and yet too cold within thirty seconds; it is fifteen minutes laying in your own dirty water, and yet, with a sigh, and little alternative save a sponge and a bucket, you start the water running whilst trying to decide whether to put something in it to make the water bubbly.  Without bubbles it is much easier to wash your hair, but you have nothing to hide your middle-aged belly and undercarriage from view.  Nobody wants to ponder their own decline, particularly from such an angle.  It is the only reason for reading in the bath: a good book effectively throws a cover over spreading flesh and ancient appendages.  If you catch a glimpse in an ill-placed bathroom mirror, it is possible to convince yourself that they do not belong to you.  (Although, if that is the case, uncomfortable questions of just exactly who is sharing your bath, persist.)  In the end, bubbles are always the preferred option.

Having taken the bath, you emerge wrinkled, Gollum-like, into the terrestrial world feeling somehow even less clean for it and conscious of the fact that you forgot to take your contact lenses out before getting in.  Not normally a problem, but now every single mirror in the house – possibly the neighbourhood – is steamed-up and unusable.  Oh well, it can wait, the mirrors will clear eventually… except experience has taught you that an eyelash under the lens will not wait; it does not sort itself out, it bores into the brain.  It feels like somebody has been using your iris as a dartboard.  You are, however, painfully aware that any attempt to remove the errant lens without recourse to a mirror will result in an eyeball the size and colour of a baboons bum and the lens itself taking up temporary residence under an eyelid… somewhere.

So, you decide that is wise to get dressed first – the curtains are all open and the cat has that look in its eye.  You are not expecting the vicar to call, but anything is possible – especially with the moon on the crest of Uranus.  The first job is to separate trousers from the belt, but the folded contact lens in your right eye feels like a felled oak and clouds your vision to such an extent that it is like viewing the world through a layer of Vaseline.  You do not notice that the stupid belt has snagged itself on the stupid, stupid belt loop of your stupid, stupid trousers until the stitching gives way and the stupid, stupid, stupid metal terminal of the belt takes out half of your second favourite incisor and, well, that’s the way it happens…

N.B. This piece is written in the third-person, in the hope that I am not alone.

N.B. (2) I am alone, apparently…