If there is one upside from this whole apocalypse situation, it is that I put some effort into my wife's birthday celebration. This year I was not able to fall back on lazy-yet-ultimately-perfect gifts like gift vouchers, or their more pure form - cash, so I had to put some actual thought into it.
Obviously the bulk of the heavy lifting would be done by some fully sanctioned online shopping (as opposed to clandestine online shopping, uncovered when opening the boot of her car and being crushed under an avalanche of parcels) - but I still needed to step up and make sure that despite the whole plague situation, we would have a special day.
It feels surreal to be standing at the entrance to a pharmacy, talking to a mask-wearing staff member over a desk blocking the door, about your wife and her likes and dislikes when it comes to skincare, as though somehow there isn't a virus threatening civilisation. But at least there is one constant - my refusal to spend more than €30 on a gift for the love of my life, and my insistence on getting a gift receipt even if it is carrying a killer virus. It's a pandemic, but there's no need to be wasteful. After that it was off to obtain some decorations, and I was pleased to note that my local discount store is counted as an essential service, because who knows when we might need an iPhone charger that lasts one use, a selection of malformed chocolates, or a curiously small bottle of Dr Pepper? Thankfully they also have a range of incredibly tasteful princess-themed party goods. They also stock a 'happy birthday to poo' range which is based around cheerful poo emojis and I really wanted to buy, but didn't (I bought that for my son's birthday instead).
So off home I went, laden down with absolute tat and a skincare range nobody has heard of, ready for the big day.
Unfortunately, on the big day I came home tired from work to a very stressed birthday princess and between us both we managed to have a big massive argument and the whole birthday was scrapped. I snottily refused to eat the dinner she had cooked, and she duly dumped it, despite the fact that I had intended to come back and eat it later when she wasn't looking and I didn't have to say thanks. Truly age is just a number, and I am 12 years old.
Back in the old days, our arguments used to rage for days at a time. But we are growing up a little as time goes by and now we usually have it all wrapped up within about 36 hours, from rolled eyes or muttered comment to grudging acceptance that we both probably could have handled the situation a bit better.
But these are different times - everyone is terrified, of losing their job, losing their life, losing their loved ones, losing freedom, or even just losing their mind.
It's hard to imagine the impact it will all have on society - if we were the feisty young things we were a decade or so ago when our battles were seismic events, we probably would have filed for an online divorce already, as it is the sense of being trapped that is making this so hard. I would imagine there are many, many couples out there whose relationships will not survive the sheer weight of this abnormal situation.
That's not to say we are some perfect ideal of marriage, but I think we have had enough blow-outs to have seriously assessed our options many times over the years and have now grudgingly accepted that we are probably going to have to share another few birthdays together, until whatever future iteration of coronavirus does us part.
So we made peace; I set up her princess party, we popped glitter and streamers and confetti all over her dinner, consigning it to the bin, albeit in happier circumstances than the last. We also presented her with a small, badly made cake adorned with two massive fours and a skincare set that will be recycled at Christmas, given that we have somewhere between a hundred and zero shopping days left to December 25th, depending on who you ask.
Health & Living