I hail a taxi. It’s Saturday evening. Dark now. I’ve got four bags of groceries.
I get in and the driver, seeing the bags, begins to tell me what a nightmare it is to shop with women. He’s married. “I’d rather shop with my kids,” he says. And he tells me all these things you can imagine about women, till you’re thinking: so what if she doesn’t buy something in the end.
Anyway, I tell him I’m married, and that we’re expecting in March.
And he changes. He’s got four kids. He drops the cliché stuff. He’s as ebullient as ever but he wants to give me advice. By the end of it, I feel like I’ve sat through the first five minutes of a Richard Curtis film – a film he has yet to make.
Hugh Grant type man gets in a taxi – is bringing big grocery shop home to his pregnant wife – taxi-man hears this and tells him a set of Truths which will be tested over the course of the next eight-five minutes.
Taxi-man tells me:
A woman has many colours of character. When you get married, it’s rosy. When you have your first child, it’s rosy, for about three months. Then it goes sour. Then you have another child. She’s giving 60% of her attention to the two kids and 40% to you. You have a third child and now you get only 10% of her attention. Do you see what I’m saying? She will only come to you for money or sex. I’m not saying this to be bad. But it does get rosy again.
“When the children are old enough that she doesn’t have to look after them – and the only person she has to fall back on is you.”
The baby’s due in March. “Sounds like I’ve got about five rosy months left and then it’s downhill for fifteen or twenty years,” I say.
He roars laughing.
He says: “It’s during those years that the affairs happen. Because she is giving you no attention. And then some woman says hello to you and it feels all rosy. But if you can sustain that period” – that’s the phrase he uses – “then it will be rosy again.”
I ask him how long he’s married. Eleven years. Not out of the sour slump yet, but he’s not having an affair either. He’s laughing, helping me take the bags out, and telling me I am a good man. He’s done all the talking, but he meets a lot of people so maybe he has a feel for that kind of thing. Maybe I’m okay. Maybe. And I walk in to my wife with these four bags of groceries.