Israel Stories

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Desperate Househusband

“Hey, doesn’t her bum look big in that skirt?”

Warning bells, oh my…. What have I just said? Think of something quick. You can’t have a weight, shopping or school conversation. These things do not compute. Remember you’re from Mars; we don’t talk about those things there. “Erm,” I splutter as several Bet Shemesh wives look at me, “she’d, er, never be good in goal.” Have I got away with it? Stony faces, stony silence.

“That’s the single most typical thing any male could say. Two things on his mind; sport and anatomy.”

Oh the joy, the relief, I got away with it. But I nearly didn’t. Got to get back to work. These coffee mornings are killing me. Roll on Sunday and the start of my new job.

“We went to the Herzliya mall,” one wife was saying, “and so we bought one in each size” another answered, “yes but the shoes really go well with my new Shabbat outfit and you should see the hat.”

This is all one conversation. Need to get out. If I say anything my testosterone levels will be brought into question. Can you catch estrogen just from talking to women?

Then I spot a friend across the café. I run up to him. “How are you?” I ask. “Good,” he replies. “You won’t believe the conversation those women are having, I needed to escape, talk about real things. So how have you been?” “Good,” he replies “and work? The family?” “Good,” he replies. “Well,” I say, as I see my wife motioning me to return to the table, “It's good speaking to you.”

“That was nice to see your friend, dear. Nice conversation.” The other wives snigger. They know we can’t talk to each other. They know we have an inability to communicate in small talk, to talk about anything. We just state the facts. I am good, my job’s good, the family is good. Do I need to know any more? So long as my wife knows I don’t need to know.

I smile. It’s lonely being a man. We don’t really talk, it's true. We don’t feel we need to. But sitting in Aroma, listening to all the wives chatter on incessantly about everything and anything you kind of get jealous that you can’t talk to your own friends. But let’s face it - and I think I speak for most men; most of our friends are our wife’s friends' husbands. I, for one, left some of my closest friends in London. So the guys I hang out with, great as they are, have no real history with me. So common ground is hard to find and we don’t talk about shopping, clothes or school.

“You’re very quiet,” my wife nudges me. “Well, it’s just I don’t think I can be involved in a shoe, shopping or school conversation. I don’t know anything about handbags, clothes and makeup. I can’t talk to you and your friends about football, ex- girlfriends, whisky and poker.”

So I sat and listened as they talked about everything and everyone. I have to admit it’s hard not to get drawn in, and then I found myself smiling, and then commenting and then joining in the conversation and then……… and then it all fell to pieces. “Look at her”, I said, “she wouldn’t need extra floats in the swimming pool”. I knew I’d overdone it. I forgot these were women not men. They could have said it, they’re allowed to, but it was another anatomy comment. I survived the first, but didn’t stand a chance again. The first black look came from my wife, and then her friends, one by one, they looked at me with those female, disapproving eyes.

The next thing I said would redeem me or exile me. Think, think, I urged myself. Silence, then I looked up and smiled.

“She’d, er, never be good in goal.