The end of lockdown could not come soon enough for the Ranganathans. We have moved into the realm of actively hunting for things to argue about, just to feel something. After long, mute days, we prowl the house, looking for any kind of perceived injustice as an excuse for a row. The other day we fell into a disagreement which would be so pathetic to explain to somebody that I have decided it makes perfect material for public consumption.
I was due to go to work. This is normally a cause for absolute joy in the house; for one thing, it means my wife gets a break from me; for another, there is a fighting chance I will have some anecdotes that aren’t based on my last trip to the fridge.
Since the incident was premised on a fundamental disagreement over the underlying facts, I’m representing my side of the story here, and you can see my wife’s take in her forthcoming Telegraph column (no, not really).
I was confident I had told her that I was due to leave for work at 9.30am; what she heard was, “I’m Romesh, and I’m an inconsiderate prick who will tell you the wrong time just to make your life harder.”
Easter holiday childcare thus covered, she had assumed she could do her outdoor exercise class at 10am, so when she saw I was getting ready to leave, the shit hit the kettlebell. We started to discuss who had said what, initially quite calmly, then slightly more heatedly. At some point, I am ashamed to admit, we both sort of flounced off to different rooms. I then did a clever thing where I made a show of saying bye to the children in a loud and elaborate way that looked as if I was being really nice to the kids, but was designed to set up the contrast with the really short way I said bye to my wife. Not saying bye wasn’t an option – that would be immature. But doing it in an abrupt way is subtle, mature and sophisticated.
Accordingly, as I walked out of the door I said “See ya” in a really cool way that effectively communicated my point. My wife replied “OK” in a way that I felt amounted to an admission of defeat. At work, I spent the day imagining how crushed she must be feeling about how brilliantly I had handled the whole thing, and wondered idly if she would buy me some sort of gift to apologise for being so inconsiderate.
Shortly afterwards, the thing that almost always happens when I have a disagreement with my wife happened; I realised that it was actually my fault. Thinking about it, I was pretty certain that I had told her she would be able to go to her class because I had got the time wrong. I faced two options: stick to my guns and carry the dark secret to my deathbed, or do the mature thing and claim there must have been a misunderstanding.
At home, I did what I usually do and apologised profusely, but also asked if she had noticed and been impressed by my goodbye strategy. She said she had, and we talked about how embarrassingly childish we’d been. We had a bit of a laugh, and talked about how we should try to avoid doing that in the future. And then we both went quiet. That had occupied us for a while… What could we argue about next?