Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Guest, or How I tempted my husband with the charms of another," a true story by Patricia Howard


“No? Isn’t that a little harsh?”

“No, it isn’t. I don’t want to get into it. It will probably be very disruptive and I just don’t want to get involved or have that commitment.”

How to persuade a stubborn man? I wondered. Would there be no changing his mind? What if I reasoned with him a little more? Would that help to soften his attitude, or would it make him more stubborn and resistant to my suggestion? It was a chance that I had to take. Time was of the essence.

“Are you sure? It would be very much appreciated, you know,” I reasoned, hopefully with a persuasive tone in my voice.

“Definitely not. I just don’t think it is a good idea, that’s all.”

This wasn’t going at all well. I’d have to try another tack. Perhaps a little more on the offensive?

“I don’t know what your problem is. I don’t think it would be a problem at all. It is offering a kindness to a stranger who will really appreciate it. Don’t you think that you would appreciate such a consideration if you were in her position?”

“But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? I am not in her position,” he went on, “and she is a complete stranger coming into this house. You don’t know her and I don’t know her. It could be a disaster.”

“But we have the room to spare. The bedroom isn’t being used at the moment, it’s just sitting there, empty,” I countered. She just needs a little time to recouperate from her surgery. It won’t be for very long. Ten days, max. How disruptive can that be? I’m sure she will stay in her room and not bother us at all. How can you say no to that?” I implored.

“Easily. No. That’s my final answer,” he said, and resumed reading the newspaper.

Oh boy. I’d already half-promised the hospital that this would be a done deal, and here I was, bickering with Richard over it. I really couldn’t see the problem. Although I didn’t know this individual – we will call her Miss A to avoid embarrassment – I knew that her need was great. She was a homeless young lady and just needed a place to rest and recover following major surgery. That surgery had saved her life. When asked, how could I not offer to lend a hand when she most needed it? I had to try again to persuade my stubborn husband that he should reconsider.

“Is it because she is homeless? Is that the problem? There but for the grace of whatever, we could any of us be in that situation one day. Would you then not be very glad of someone lending you a helping hand?”

“Maybe. But I am not living in a gutter,” Richard reasoned, “and I don’t want someone in our home who is going to perhaps be disruptive and antisocial. It isn’t fair to expect that of me. I have not had enough time to think this through, and my first reaction is to say no. Please, just leave it for now, will you?” Once again, his head turned to the newspaper.

So – there was a glimmer of hope after all! Perhaps I am just rushing him too much, when a little time to think and reflect is all he needs. Maybe I should just back off for an hour or so, say nothing for awhile. However, I had to give an answer to the hospital soon, because Miss A was being discharged later today. She needed to have somewhere to go to; she could not go back on to the street. Oh, how can men be so damned stubborn! I just didn’t have the luxury of time, to let Richard ponder for too long.

“OK,” I demurred. “But I have to give an answer by lunch time today. I had said that I would collect Miss A from the hospital, so if you won’t let me do that I will have to let them know. I don’t know what she will do if she can’t come here. All the other places that would normally be able to offer her somewhere to stay are full.”

Richard seemed exasperated. “Why do you persist in giving me ultimatums? You’ve already made your mind up, so why even bother to ask me? Don’t you think this is all just a little bit unfair?” he complained.

Unfair! Unfair is having surgery and finding yourself with nowhere to go. No refuge from a life of uncertainty. An unpredictable future! That’s what was so unfair about all this! But maybe Richard had a point. Maybe I wasn’t giving him any ‘wriggle room’, presenting this whole house guest thing as a fait accompli with no opportunity to decide for himself. It was a done deal – wasn’t it?

“I’ll look after her,” I said. “You won’t have to do anything. It won’t interfere with anybody else. I’ll make sure the door to the bedroom remains closed so that she can rest. I’ll take care of her dressings and her medications. You won’t need to worry about any of that stuff.”

“You are kidding, aren’t you?” Richard replied, clearly exasperated. “How can you say that? The very fact that she is in this house makes it my responsibility, too, doesn’t it?”

“You won’t regret it, I promise.”

“I already do”, he replied, with a hint of a smile – or was that resignation?

And so, dear friends, that is how my significant other fell in love with her. It was all my fault for putting Temptation in his path. He simply couldn’t resist her charms. On that hot August day nearly four years ago our final feline joined our happy family of cats and two dogs and three tanks of tropical fish.

Miss Twinkle, as she is now known, because of her “I’m so cute” face with twinkling eyes, came to our home to recover from her surgery, and never left. She waltzed into our hearts and into our lives, her dainty ways and beautiful green eyes were more than we could resist.

Miss Twinkle made a full recovery, but I am not sure that we ever will. We have, however, sworn off ever fostering another sick animal – the consequences are too great!

Patricia Howard has been writing short stories based largely on her life's many mishaps and mis-steps along the way. She has been encouraged to commit these sometimes humourous misadventures to paper, often to the chagrin of Richard, her long-suffering husband. Patricia gave a reading of this story on June 23, 2011, at CJ's Cafe in Bronte. Our next reading night will be Sept 13, and we're looking for readers. If you're interested, see details here.

See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Peterborough, Kingston, Orangeville, Barrie, Sudbury, Gravenhurst, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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