Everything is up in the air


Facebook now misses me so much that today I got an email asking if I knew my wife and wanted to add her as a friend. Because, obviously, I’d not really truly love her until our relationship was mediated through a series of mutual status updates, pokes and photo tags. It’s been less than two weeks without checking in, and it’s come to this. By the end of the month, I’ll probably get a recorded message every five minutes on my phone, of Mark Zuckerburg weeping. Sorry, of Robo-Zuckerburg weeping, since they’re bound to have replaced the boy-billionaire with an automated version by now. All the better to wear hooded sweatshirts, and all that.
Of course, I’m not sure that I do know my wife. On the flight home last night, I asked her if she wanted a drink of apple juice (no ice) when the flight attendant came along the aisle. On planes, that’s her drink. I dream of transatlantic gin and tonic, but usually stick to water or juice, because I’m sensible/dull/worried about something happening ten thousand metres in the sky that would strangely require me to be sober. So I don’t ever request alcohol from the beverage selection. (On United, "the beverage selection includes a variety of products", which is probably the least appetising way to refer to drinks that I’ve ever heard over a public address system.)

"No, just water" she said, so I took an apple juice for myself, and a cup of water for her.

My wife took the cup of apple juice from me, and drank it. I stopped, and waited for her to finish half of it and give me some back. She carried on, and drank all the juice. Then, as I sat there, dumbfounded at this, she took the cup of water away from me as well and drank that too, leaving me with nothing to drink, and the flight attendant trundling off to the back of the plane.

It’s lucky that United skimp on salty snacks like pretzels and peanuts, otherwise I might have suffered extreme dehydration. Instead, I just stared at my wife, who blithely stacked the empty drink containers, and went back to watching a film. I retaliated by eating her bread roll.

I couldn’t remonstrate with her about this immediately, as the baby was between us and the flight was noisy. It wouldn’t have done to yell "you stole my drink" across the top of Felicity. What kind of parent would everyone think I was? Instead, I had to let the rage fester, and watch Skyfall in Spanish, because I need to develop my vocabulary and listening abilities more. Eventually, in the arrival hall, I summoned up the courage to tell her that she’d deprived me of my drink, but it was really a bit too late by then. The illusion that she’d give a clear and honest answer to the question "would you like some apple juice (no ice)?" had been shattered forever.

We went home in a taxi, and Felicity knew this, and howled all the way to Chinatown. I went to bed, passed out cold for four hours, woke to my alarm, turned it off, woke to my alarm again half an hour later. That’s right, winners set two alarms so they don’t have to rely on snooze buttons.

Today, though, I felt it in my heart to forgive my wife for mumbling, or mishearing me, or just being desperate to double-fist drinks on a plane, even if they were non-alcoholic. Life’s too short to hold a grudge.

Mind you, I hold a grudge against whoever decided to schedule three weeks of incredibly loud Chinese New Year celebrations below our flat. There was no indication whatsoever in Hong Kong that Chinese New Year was approaching, no decorations, no music, nothing, and if a Special Administrative Region of China doesn’t need three weeks of karaoke, it’s a bit rich that Chinatown thinks it does. Perhaps that is another data point to add to yesterday’s post: Hong Kongers don’t even care about Chinese New Year, so great is their anomie. But again, I shouldn’t complain – it can be no coincidence that it’s only when the music stops that our daughter wakes up and starts crying.

Or maybe we couldn’t hear her over the noise.


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