Mr Oliver here. I haven’t got much time. I’ve decided to wrest control of the blog from Katie while she’s out shopping for more shoes she doesn’t need. You lot deserve to know the truth about her.
I know everyone thinks she’s lovely, such a good egg, et cetera. And… she is. Mostly. But there’s another, darker side to her. An obsessive, critical, shrewish side that would make Petruchio quaver in his boots (ironically, his wife’s name was Kate, too. Make of that what you will).
Let me just say that she’s obsessed with vacuuming. What’s the first thing I hear when I walk in the door after a long, trying day? Not “hello, darling, I missed you” or “how was your day? or even “I like your new tie.” No. What I hear first is, I JUST VACUUMED.
Those three words are enough to strike terror into the very depths of my soul.
The second thing I hear is TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF. Forgive me, but I’m a man returning home to his castle after a long day at work, not a Japanese businessman visiting the local tea house. Why must I take my shoes off? I sit all day in an office, at a desk. I’ve not been traipsing about In a mechanic’s garage or stomping grapes or jumping in muddy puddles with Peppa Pig, for God’s sake.
Doesn’t matter. Shoes, off.
And it isn’t just inside that Katie exercises the iron fist of control. She also rules the mailbox. Magazines, packages, letters, catalogs – all of it, every day – is hers. I’m lucky to get a sales flyer or a coupon for a free gutter cleaning. (By the way, there’s a really great two-for-one special on personal pizzas going at Luigi’s this week. If you’re interested.)
She’s even encroached on the one sacrosanct spot I have left – the garage. She told me it looks like a rubbish dump and that I really need to sort it out. Next thing you know, she’ll want the cars and tools and rakes moved elsewhere, because the sight of all that stuff offends her sensibilities. And the fact that once – once! – I accidentally put the bloody corkscrew in the bloody toolbox is a fact she’s never let me forget.
You think she’d cut me a bit of slack.
After all, I do all those things she can’t be bothered with – things like painting the upstairs hallway (which I’m doing right now) and replacing the odd shingle on the roof and mowing the damned grass every week. Not to mention, I bag the grass up and put it in the bins and wheel the bins out to the curb every week.
If I load the dishes into the dishwasher, the next thing I hear is DID YOU RINSE THE DISHES FIRST? Oh, pardon me, Katie – but I thought this was a dishwasher. That means it washes the dishes, correct? Then why in sod’s name do I have to wash each dish before I put it in? What the hell does the dishwasher have left to do, if I’ve already done it all? That’s like… like hand-stitching a seam before you run it up on the sewing machine. Or taking a sponge bath before you get in the shower. Insanity -
Oh, crap. I think I just heard the car door slam outside. Let me go and see if it’s her.
It is. Katie’s back. Damn. I’ve got to go.
“Darling!” Katie carols up the stairs. ”I’m home!”
Right, I think grumpily, I’m “darling” at the moment. Only because my wife has just spent God knows how much money on more shoes or capri pants or, heaven forbid, new knickers, and so she’s feeling a bit more tolerant towards me than usual-
“Come and see what I got!”
I put down my paint roller and step down from the ladder. ”Be right there,” I call back. I trudge downstairs, careful not to touch anything with my paint-spattered hands lest I hear about it later.
I make my way into the kitchen, and sure enough, there’s Katie, laden with carrier bags. ”I’m just in the middle of painting the upstairs hall. What is it?” I say (a bit tetchily, I must confess).
She sets the bags down on the kitchen table and rummages until she finds the one she’s looking for. ”Ah, here we are,” she says triumphantly, and withdraws something and holds it out. ”For you.”
I stare at her. ”For me?”
“Yes. Go on, what do you think?”
I reach out and take the sunglasses and turn them over in my hands. ”These are the ones I spotted the last time we were at the mall,” I say slowly. The lenses are round and tinted a dark brown, very Noel Gallagher; I’ve coveted them ever since I saw them.
I look up at her in puzzlement. ”But… it’s not my birthday.”
“No, it isn’t. But I thought it only fair,” she added as she came up and slid her arms around my waist, “to get you a little treat, just because I love you. After all, you do so much around the house, inside and out. And I really do appreciate it.”
You see? You see how sneaky and insidious Katie can be?
Never mind the fact that I’m the one who’ll get the credit card bill in a day or two, or that I’m the one who’ll pay for all of this stuff; now she’s gone and made me look like an unappreciative, grumpy git in front of you lot, to boot. I tell you, I can’t win.
“Thank you, darling,” I tell her as she kisses me. ”Very thoughtful. I love them. And I love you.”
“I love you, too. I remembered you said you liked them. You see, I do listen to you.”
“Good to know.”
“Before you go back upstairs,” she adds coyly as I turn away, “there’s something in the car I need your help with.”
“Oh? And what’s that?” I ask, as a sinking feeling settles in my stomach.
She gives me her brightest, most winning smile. ”Well, a vacuum, of course! We needed a new one. I got one of those really nice ones, with no vacuum bag to bother with. It’ll save us a ton of money on vacuum bags.”
So I bring in the outrageously expensive new vacuum cleaner, the cost of which could’ve financed a skiing trip to Aspen – round-trip airfare and lift fees included – and stand aside as Katie plugs in the new vacuum and switches it on.
My duty here is done. I grab my sunglasses and return upstairs, to my ladder and my painting, secure in the knowledge that, for the moment at least, Katie is happy…
… and, for the moment at least, so am I.