“Why did you park that way? I always park nose in when I’m here.”
“Well that’s because you can’t reverse park and I can. It’s so much easier and it doesn’t chance scratching the front end every time either.”
“Maybe but how do you plan on getting the trolley round to boot, hey? Didn’t think of that now did you Mr Clever Parking?”
Gerry and Anne hated food shopping together. It brought out the worst in them both. Usually Anne did all of the shopping, parking nose in to her parking spaces, but Gerry had come to oversee today’s trip because his mother was coming to Sunday lunch. Marjory didn’t like Anne and thought even after twenty six years of marriage Gerry could still do better for himself. Anne wished he would go off and try, taking the poisonous old woman with him.
“I hope you won’t be this disagreeable when Mother comes. You know how sensitive she is to tension and I won’t have you giving her one of her heads.”
“No dear. That wouldn’t do, now would it.”
“She has nobody but me, Anne, you know that. I’m going to make her last years as happy and comfortable as I can.”
“Final years? Gerry, she’s sixty seven, not ninety seven. Your mother probably has more good years left in her than I do. Certainly the way I feel half the time she does anyway.”
“Look, I’ve said before, why don’t you give that job of yours up? We don’t need the money and you could have more time to yourself, maybe do something around the house. You bake beautifully and some of the soft furnishings could stand refreshing. What do you say?”
“Gerry, I’m not giving up my job. I was a nurse when we met and it’s something I’m damned good at. I’m proud to be helping people and they like me at the surgery, my patients like me. It’s only two days a week and that’s not really what wears me out.”
“Two days a week is enough for you to pick up foul language I see.”
“Yes dear. So what shall we buy for your mother?”
Anne was walking just ahead of Gerry as they got to the SupaValu front door. Each hoped the shopping wouldn’t take long so they could go their separate way, Gerry back to work and Anne out for coffee with one of the other part time practice nurses. Each was storing up the niggles and point won or lost for sharing later with a sympathetic audience. Behind them came a loud bang. Anne kept walking but Gerry turned to find out the source before speeding up to catch Anne.
“That’s like you, that is. Woman backing out of her parking space and straight into a guy driving along, minding his own business. Wouldn’t have happened if she’d reversed in and could drive out seeing the on-coming traffic.”
“No, I’m sure he’s totally faultless. Must be her to blame. Lamb? Beef? Chicken?”
“What? Oh, for Mother. Well lamb is normally too fatty for her and she doesn’t like it too chewy. And your beef is always too well done for anyone in my family. We all grew up with our meat good and pink.”
“Chicken then. Pink?”
“Oh Anne, for goodness sake. Must you be facetious? No not pink chicken, not unless you want to poison her. And chicken is a bit too every day, isn’t it. She buys it on those polystyrene trays and heats it on the microwave. More of the same is hardly a treat now is it?”
“So what then? Pork? Spaghetti? Rice? Sandwiches?”
“You do it deliberately. You try to drive a wedge between us. Well it won’t work, Anne. She’s my Mother. My own Mother. I will make sure she has a fabulous meal. I have a good mind to take her out somewhere lavish and not invite you. Maybe even take her away somewhere for a weekend. The seaside maybe.”
“Well that I do support. You deserve some time together. I’m happy to fend for myself for a weekend. I might even go to that spa Sally told me about. I’m meeting her for coffee later so I’ll see if she fancies it too.”
“Now no need to be hasty. Mother would prefer an afternoon with us, I’m sure.”
“No, dear. You go away for the weekend with her. It’s for the best. And in fact you can probably leave me here now and I’ll make my own way home taxi or something.”
But it was too late and Gerry was already stuttering at his wife’s retreating back, unsure quite how he had managed to back himself into that corner and wondering how many points Anne had just scored.