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David Robbins: The transformation is complete -- I am the 'little woman'

There was something niggling at the back of my mind this week. Something about mid-September that I was supposed to remember. But I couldn't for the life of me think what it was.

My birthday? No, that's the 22nd (putting me on the cusp of Virgo and Libra, if you must know, though my wife reckons Virgo is in the ascendant). Anyway, even someone as forgetful as me remembers his own birthday.

A Leinster match perhaps? Yes, they're playing Glasgow today, but that's not it. Dry cleaning? An unpaid bill? A lunch date arranged long ago? A dental appointment? No, no and again no.

In the end, it was all the talk about the anniversary of 9/11 that reminded me. Of course! It was our wedding anniversary. How could I forget? Now, what date exactly was it again?

I have perfect recall of the wedding itself. Well, near perfect, as I overdid it a little on the Armagnac the night before.

I can also remember the palaver of trying to arrange the whole thing. If you ever need to rent portaloos in south-west France, I'm your man.

Then there was also that slight misunderstanding with the chef. I was emailing him back and forth in what I thought was flawless French.

Then I happened to show the correspondence to my French sister-in-law. Her eyes widened as she read down the page. Probably dead impressed by my use of the vernacular, I thought.

Eh, no. It turned out that I had been writing what amounted to gay love letters to the poor man. So picky, the French. Such a fuss over the difference between jouir (to climax) and jouer (to play).

And, of course, I remember the woman I actually married on the day. She is still around, thanks mainly to the 'for worse' section of her vows.

The honeymoon, spent in a nearby hotel, is also fresh in the memory. Apart from the obvious, my honeymoon memories chiefly concern an English couple who were almost comically obnoxious to the staff.

That's all very well, mind you, but it doesn't get us any closer to the actual date of the wedding. I decided to ring around some of the people who were there.

I won't bore you with the individual responses, but the first five went something like this: "Hmm, yes. Remember it well. Great day. Lovely weather, as I recall. And the food was excellent. Some sort of duck, wasn't it?

"You went a bit overboard on the Armagnac the night before, didn't you? The date? Sometime in mid-September, wasn't it? Right about this time of year, now that I think about it. Oh, you want the actual date? No, no idea I'm afraid. By the way, I don't think we got you a present . . ."

I wondered about calling the Mairie in Montaigu-de-Quercy, where the whole thing happened. We had booked the Stade Municipal for a soccer match the day after the wedding, so perhaps they had a record of it.

But I thought such a conversation might turn into another jouir/jouer minefield, and decided against. Besides, I think we still owe them money.

One more call to a wedding guest -- one with unimpaired memory cells -- revealed all. September 13. I felt like breaking into the Maurice Chevalier standard I Remember It Well.

Luckily, I had a couple more days to organise something, a surprise dinner or evening at the theatre, perhaps.

I phoned our regular babysitter only to be told that my wife had already booked her for the night in question. It turned out she'd also booked a taxi and a restaurant.

I knew then that the role-reversal in our marriage was now complete. She worked; I baked. She took important corporate decisions; I chose curtains. She arranged meetings; I organised playdates.

It used to be the man's job to mark anniversaries, birthdays and Valentine's Day in such a way as to convey his appreciation for the work his "little woman" was doing at home.

Now I was the "little woman" at home. I wondered if my wife would now begin to put out the bins, mow the lawn and loosen tight-fitting jar lids.

I called another SAHD (stay-at-home dad) and lamented the gradual emasculation of the man who steps off the corporate treadmill.

"Yes, yes, yes," he said, "enough about that. The main thing is: what are you going to wear?"

drobbins@independent.ie

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