Retirement has its routines.
Every day after lunch, Celia consumed the next one of an endless succession of romances. John snoozed away while supposedly playing online scrabble. Then, at four o’clock, Celia made them a cup of coffee each.
Today, John woke with a start and looked at the clock: nearly 4:30. Wanting to do something nice, he asked, “Would you like me to make the coffee?”
“Wait a minute,” Celia sounded annoyed. She stayed silent for maybe half a minute, then snapped, “I’ll do it, but CAN’T YOU WAIT TILL I FINISH MY CHAPTER?”
Feeling both puzzled and hurt, John shouted back, “DON’T BOTHER!” He stormed off to the kitchen, and made one cup of coffee, for himself.
That evening, Celia set the table for one, and had a poached egg on toast, with nothing for John.
He’d never hit her, or any other woman, but sure felt like it now. To control himself, he stormed out, had a hamburger at the local shopping centre, then visited their daughter, Mandy, crying on her shoulder about this incomprehensible reaction to an attempt at kindness.
“Sit down, Father,” Mandy commanded, and pecked on her phone. She put it on speaker.
“I knew that passive-aggressive wannabe manipulator would run straight to her favourite daughter,” Celia’s voice came.
John opened his mouth in outrage, but Mandy waved him to silence. “Mother, can you explain what you mean by that?” she asked.
“OK, so I was caught up in a great book and was a few minutes late with the coffee, but couldn’t he just have said so?”
“Father, what did you say?”
“I saw she was enjoying her book, and offered to make us the cup. And she bloody bit me in the bum!”
“Liar! You mocked me!”
John spoke loudly, to ensure Celia heard him: “Mandy, you’ve got an opportunity for a live-in babysitter and domestic worker. You know I’m a good cook when I put my mind to it. May I move into your spare room?”
“Jee, what a child! So you’re going to divorce me because your coffee was a half-hour late!”