All My Wives

shoes

By Olwen Lund, Colne

His profile was interesting enough for me to want to know more. I’m not talking about a physical profile (as in a sideways photo – the sort they take when you’re arrested. Not that I’ve been arrested, you understand. I just watch a lot of crime dramas). To get back to the profile I’m talking about, where you state your personal details such as marital status, age, occupation, your likes and dislikes from which you can usually get and idea of their personality.

He was an accountant, a couple of years older than me and divorced, as was I. He liked country walks, pub lunches, all the usual stuff. Going by previous experience, a good sense of humour on one’s profile didn’t always turn out to be truth.

In fact some men’s idea of a good sense of humour meant they laughed rather too loudly at their own nerdy jokes, not witty charm I was looking for. Anyway, I was prepared to give him a change, even though his interest in arty foreign films was a slight concern.

I’d gradually have to wean him off those by introducing him to more rom-coms and musical theatre. He looked pleasant enough from his photo. He was by no means film star gorgeous but I find that the level of attractiveness required is in direct proportion to the length of time one has been looking for a partner.

On the other hand, if he’d been looking for ages and dated various women before me, then I must be rather a plain Jane.

Well, after exchanging a couple of emails, we decided to meet and chose a little country pub about half way between our homes. I hoped I would recognise him straight away as it is very embarrassing to go up to a man on his own and ask: “Have you been waiting for me?” you can get a rather sleazy response “Yes darlin’, all my life” or a very curt reply “No, my wife’s just gone to the ladies.”

Thankfully I knew him straight away, even though it was immediately obvious that the photo on his profile was taken over five years ago. I couldn’t be too cross about that as mine wasn’t that recent either. As the date was progressing, I was pleasantly surprised how much I was enjoying his company. It was just when I was deciding in my mind that I would see him again if he asked that he said, “I’ve stayed on good terms with all my wives.”

It seemed as if those last three words had been shouted out as they hit me like a thunderbolt, but the whole sentence had been spoken at the same volume. I hesitated to ask how many is ‘all’, but I had to know.

It turned out there were four ex-wives, all of whom living within a ten mile radius of their ex-husband.

“I hope you’re not put off by that,” he said. “It would take some time to tell you the whole story, but I will if you want to know.”

I took a deep breath and nodded.

He began by telling me about wife Number One, Sandra, whom he married at the age of 20 and she had the amazing ability to spend money they didn’t have.

It was in the early days of credit cards and she was very taken with them. She seemed to think it was extremely kind of them to give her these cards that enabled her to buy things as if they were gifts from the credit card companies and even when she was presented with the enormous bills, she was quite incredulous and bemused about it and she shrugged her shoulders. She shrugged her shoulders many more times before he cut up the cards and cut Sandra out of his life.

He’d talked so much about her outrageous purchases that I’d heard enough for one evening and suggested he tell me about the others next time. In my head I added: “If there is a next time” as I had not quite made up my mind yet.

The following week, after he had phoned me, I decided to see him again, partly out of curiosity as to what sort of person he’d chosen as wives two, three and four.

Wife Number Two was Delia and he proceeded to tell me about her obsessive compulsive disorder, although she never admitted to it. She thought it was normal behaviour.

Her shoes were laid out according to colour, starting with light-coloured shoes on the left graduating to darkcoloured shoes on the right. She was always asking him if these shoes should be to the right or to the left of the shoes. Were they lighter or darker than that pair?

shoes

It was the same with all the clothes in the wardrobe. Well they were not just arranged according to colour, but according to length as well. Short to the left and long to the right. She would only have books of exactly the same height on the same shelf. If it was an inch too tall or too short it was put on to another shelf where all the books matched it in height or discarded all together if it didn’t fit the house. It was all so tedious and annoying that he decided Delia didn’t fit in the house either.

There were so many stories about her particular habits that details of wives Number Three and Four had to be postponed until the next date.

I have to say that I did quite like him and he had been very unlucky with his first two choices but I would postpone final judgment until I heard about the final two.

He must have married Tracey (wife Number Three) for her looks as it certainly wasn’t for her intellect.

She was so thick she thought Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife and she was just clueless about medical matters. To her a terminal illness was when you are sick in an airport, a fibula is a white lie and a caesarean section is a district in Rome. Alarm bells should have rung very early on in the marriage, as when they were on the honeymoon cruise she wanted to know when they would arrive in Switzerland. I asked if they were on the Rhine cruise and he said: “”No, a Caribbean cruise!”

After a couple of years he was tired of correcting he geography and history, (well any subject really) and she was equally fed up of him making her look stupid by always correcting her as they sailed off in different directions.

So what’s of wife Number Four, Mandy? She was fine at first but it soon became obvious that she could no longer keep her food addiction under control. Once she had secured him she let her love for food take over. She gave up her job so that she could sit on the sofa feeding her face all day long. If he said anything about keeping her weight down and eating healthily she would throw a tantrum and take a bundle of chocolate bars upstairs to console herself. She thought the four seasons were salt, pepper, mustard, and vinegar. She turned every conversation into a discussion about recipes and ingredients. Not only did she let herself go, he let her go too.

So I was up to date with his ex wives and felt sympathy for him but I was not expecting what came next.

Out of the blue, he said, “Will you be my Number Five?”

I couldn’t believe it. We hardly knew each other. I knew more about his exwives that I did about him. No wonder he made those mistakes. He must have asked them to marry him before he knew them properly. Accountants are supposed to be cautious and rather hesitant in relationships, preferring to take things slowly and steadily, but not this accountant. He was impulsive and although I like a person with a bit more spirit and spontaneity, when it comes to marriage, caution should hold sway.

So what was my answer? I said it was far too soon to consider that, but I would like to continue to see him if he wanted. He said he understood. As time went on, I heard more of his stories unofficially titled ‘All my wives’ and although these were entertaining, I think that I would tire of them and eventually come to resent them. Those little three words would annoy me immensely and I would imagine seeing them tattooed on his forehead.

I decided to prevent him from making a mistake Number Five, and prevent myself for making mistake Number Six!

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