By way of a paradigm shift meet Henry and Minnie*, and old couple married in the dawn of prehistory, survivors of recession, war, famine, pestillence..... you get the idea. And throughout it all they have fought like cat and dog, Tom and Jerry, maybe even Itchy and Scratchy!
Their relationship apparently thrives of their ability to contradict one another, or more properly Minnie to contradict Henry. It's easier for her to do now, because in the past five years Old Father Time has accounted for what little hearing war and mining had left Henry. He has aids. You know the sort. Big clunky things that whistle and squeal with alarming regularity. In many ways it's just as well he's deaf enough not to have to hear it!
Minnie has her own agenda. She is desperate to make sure he stays well. The thing is, she was diagnosed with "inoperable" and therefore "terminal" colon cancer some four years ago.
Yes, really, four years.
The diagnosis is quite correct. The prognosis has been appallingly wrong. You might think happily, given she is still around, and really not a lot worse, four years in. But to her that's four years spent on Death Row, waiting for the men with the keys to come for her, to march her off to the chamber, and she doesn't even get to know which day to have her "hearty breakfast". And so she is scared. Not so much for herself, except when she gets a new pain she can't explain**. No, she worries for him.
It doesn't help that like all men of a certain age he is prone to concerns over the working of his bowels.*** In brief he suffers with constipation, despite laxative doses that would bring an elephant to it's knees.**** Of course Minnie's carcinoma began with episodic constipation-- followed by diarrhoea in her case, but still she sees constipation as a "red flag" symptom. So much so that we even investigated poor Henry last year just to reassure her.
Which brings us back to today. Henry comes in and sits centre stage. After all it is his appointment. Minnie comes in behind him, and takes station, for all the world like a smaller, older, more female Kevin Costner, just behind his left shoulder.
One false move here and I'll feel my hair***** being parted by the bodyguard's katana, I think to myself.
Henry starts to detail in graphic terms his latest struggles with his affliction. All the while Minnie is behind him shaking her head violently whenever she disagrees. Which is most of the time. When he has finished, and before I can shout a response into his least whistly ear, Minnie has her say, and completely revises his presentation. What had been a tale of manly triumph over adversity is instantly transformed into an official history of the first day of the Somme.
They have a stand up row, conducted at 90+ decibels, which she wins. We end up agreeing to give him the treatment she was after for him in the first place. And they leave, hand in hand, smiling sweetly at one another and full of thanks for my kind attention-- or for doing what Minnie asks, which amounts to the same.
Their relationship is founded on the solid bedrock of decades of conflict and a sound appreciation of who wears the trousers.
Even when she's in a skirt.
* usual bogus prize offer for the first respondent to grok the reference.
** which have been mercifully few.
*** what follows has been heavily censored on grounds of good taste and proximity to Dr J's teatime.
**** Aren't you glad this is the edited version?
***** such as is left