your mother is a master of dialectics. One of the qualities that gives her advantages, especially in marital disputes, is her ability to put three words into the debate that I need at least three sentences to correct.
Today she struck me with another skill that I can only recover from by writing this email to you.
Your mother can stay with the truth and still bring a totally different situation. She achieves this simply by omitting. For me, what constitutes a mutilation of events means for them “focus on the essentials”. It would be wrong to assume “my Canadian” lack of knowledge in the foreign language German. She simply enjoys the language, coupled with an overflowing desire to annoy her husband.
To tell everything, I need this time even more than three sentences. The true story goes like this:
It is the 14th of February at 6:00 in the morning. I read my daily newspaper in peace. Next to me, a cup of freshly-milled coffee is steaming. Everything is quiet in the house. It’s still dark outside. I feel good.
I acknowledge the political news of the first page with the serenity of an elderly gentleman who knows that he can not change the world any more. When I turn to the local section, I see the pictures of six little men and women. Above it is the headline: “This day is like Easter and Christmas together”. It takes me three seconds to understand. From now on, the day takes a different course.
My first thought: “I hate this day.” Then picks up my mechanism with which I meet this February 14 more or less successfully for years: “Ignore, ignore, ignore, do not even pronounce the name!” When addressed by my loved one, I have been giving the same answer for years and days: “Honey, for me every day is a Valentine’s Day!” Sometimes I add: “Honey, I love you 365 days a year!” When she smiles at me especially nicely, I let myself be carried away by the sentence: “Honey, I even dream of you 365 nights!” I do not say the latter that often. I do not want to be considered a slime.
When talking to other people, the topic comes to this day, I finish the discussion quickly and reliably with the following sentence: “American shit that serves only the economy.”
Everything is different this year. Totally different. Exciting, laborious and not to my advantage.
After these three seconds, I swallow three times hard and inwardly get myself into defensive position, even if my sweetheart still sleeps deeply. A look back at the guy in the paper and what he wrote restores my peace of mind. My feeling of superiority is sufficient. I’m fine. Until I continue to read.
The picture next to the man shows a sympathetic woman in the prime of life. She immediately messes up everything in me again. For she obviously has the quality that I have been trying harder in recent years: a relaxed reaction to what is happening and a well-balanced presentation of the facts.
“Valentine’s Day is indeed a pretty commercial day, but I still appreciate that my husband gives me a small gift every year,” the woman is quoted as saying. That’s what my sweetheart could say, I think. But luckily she is still sleeping.
I pull myself together, take a sip of coffee and continue reading. The sympathetic woman slips into oblivion. When I’m done with the long article about “bee dying” in Bavaria, my mental balance is restored. I put the paper away and boot my computer.
The first e-mail appears. It’s a greeting card! A certain Jacquie Lawson sent me a greeting card tonight at 2:14. Schell, I go through all my girlfriends. A Jacquie Lawson is not among them. That must belong to the card company, I think.
Loading the file takes a while. A heart decorated with flowers builds up and in the middle stands “Happy Valentine’s Day”. Now I realize: “The card comes from my wife!” Emotion is spreading. My wife loves me. After almost forty-seven years of marriage, my wife still loves me!
Just want to start the first aircraft in the stomach, as this other voice tries again to gain the upper hand. “She needs that stupid day to show you her love!” The voice whispers to me. And further: “Actually, you defend yourself against the mainstream, the money making and against the degradation of your feelings of love through the commercial.”
But that is one last, futile Aufbäumen. Because this sympathetic woman from the newspaper comes to mind again. “That’s how my wife would speak,” I think again. Then my blood pressure goes up because I have nothing, but nothing at all for my wife. This weekend I have not even bought a flower, which I usually do. The apartment seems empty and bleak.
Slightly panic I rush to get to the supermarket. But at 7:45, the business is still shot. So I drink another coffee that does not taste nearly as good as the one at home. The market opens punctually at 8:00. But the flower woman comes only at 9:00 clock! My frustration is rising.
Quickly I buy instead of flowers our favorite chocolates. Because today is Friday, I start fresh fish at the bar. After all, I’m a thinking houseman and know that my wife likes to fish on Fridays.
When I dig in my pocket for my key in front of our block of flats, the view upwards reveals a totally unusual picture. My wife is at minus 1.5 degrees on the third floor on the terrace and beckons to me. And at a time when she usually sleeps. Very unusual.
The frustration is now gone, but the excitement has increased considerably. At the top, I’m struggling for air. Before I can ring, the door opens. The smile of this woman is just adorable!
Once again, “the other voice” begins a small blaze in me: “Maybe she thinks you are the young parcel carrier whose friendliness she always praises so much, or even for the Eastern European craftsman, who came out of the cellar the other day.”
But things take their course and are beyond my control. Breathless, I stammer: “Thank you for this beautiful e-card.” I’m not sure, but I think I blush even slightly as I say that. As I grab my backpack, I add, “I have a gift for you.”
I pull the fish out of the rucksack because it’s at the top and wants to put it aside.
“Oh, fresh fish!”, My beloved sounds.
“Yes, because today is Friday.”
“Today is only Thursday, my dear,” she replies with a smile.
Slightly irritated, I reach into the backpack again and take out the box of chocolates.
“Alas, how beautiful! Pralines instead of flowers, the chocolates that you love!” Her magical smile mutates into a mischievous grin as she declares, “Well, the last time you ate all the chocolates, that’s only fair of you.”
I swallow three times and say nothing. An hour later I want to hug my wife. She hesitantly fends me off and says, “Obviously you have not read your e-mail, you may not want to hug me.”
I’ll call up the email program and read an e-mail to you kids with punch through to me. You know these three lines:
“He leaves the house to buy a rose
comes back with fresh fish! ”
Dear children, the three smilies under their text seem to me like three sticking plasters that are supposed to comfort a small child who cries when there is no blood at all.
It dawns on me which dimension of masochism must have reached me already. In other words, I do not understand why I still love your mother so much. But now that I have written this text, your father is better off.
A greeting to the best children in the world from the best father in the world.