It’s raining outside. Not just raining: pouring down. It’s been doing that for 24 hours. The rest of the country is being washed out to sea and the DIY fanatic next door seems to be building something…
So I’m going out for a walk.
No, I’m not going to get wet. I’m going to get drenched. Soaked by the time I reach the pub on the corner. My coat’s still wet from the dog walk and my waterproof shoes aren’t anymore.
But I’m going. Because I owe it to my wife.
It’s the least I can do.
Rewind the clock 24 hours. To Christmas morning. My wife hands me my last present. “Happy Christmas,” she smiles.
A small parcel. Maybe six inches long. Cuboid? Is that right?
My presents so far suggest I’m a man who sits around reading while drinking too much red wine and eating too much cheese.
Spot on. So I’m feeling pleased with life. But what can this be? I shake it. No sound.
“Read the clue,” she says. No more telling porkies about numbers. The truth will out.
Porkies? Numbers? “What is this? Something that sits on my desk and counts how many bacon sandwiches I have?”
I shake it again. Still nothing. And then a light bulb goes on above my head. “Ah… Thank you, darling. A Fitbit. I really wanted one.” And who says romance is dead? I cross the room and kiss her in front of our traumatised children.
“So it’ll record how many steps I take? I’ll have to go the long way to the bacon sandwich shop.”
“You’re supposed to do 10,000 steps a day,” Jessica says.
So I’d heard. And I’d worked it out. Who had time to walk for two hours? “I won’t get anywhere near that.”
“Take the dog out, Dad. Fasten it to her collar.”
“Awesome! Brilliant plan.”
“Except it records your heart rate as well.”
Damn it. Thirty minutes on the dog and all my targets would have been met…
But the Fitbit, it appeared, was my friend.
“Look at this,” I said triumphantly when I’d finally set it up. “I’ve already used 945 calories. And I haven’t eaten anything.”
“Shouldn’t you tell it about the chocolate twist and toast you had for breakfast?”
“I don’t want to wear the batteries out. Besides, I’m checking my heart rate now.”
A thought occurred to me. After more than twenty years of marriage I should have known better, but it wandered carelessly out through my mouth. “I’ll need to wear it when, you know… When the children are asleep…”
I smiled seductively. Or what I fondly imagined was seductively.
“It’ll check my maximum heart rate.”
“It may have escaped your attention, dearest, but I’m your wife – not a research tool.” Yep, definitely a mistake.
“I’ve set a weight loss target,” I said, desperately trying to retrieve my brownie points.
“Eleven kilos. Nearly two stone in old money.”
“So you’ll be giving up red wine and cheese?” I mentally flipped through my New Year’s resolutions. Nope, that one was definitely missing.
“I’ll be exercising more,” I said defiantly.
Starting now. What else could I do? Sometimes marriage demands sacrifice. This was mine: a moral duty to come home looking like I’d jumped in the sea.
I opened the front door. “Hell’s bells. It’s like the waterfall scene in Last of the Mohicans.”
“Stay alive,” my wife replied. “I will find you. No matter how wet you are…”
Thanks for reading this post – and for reading the blog throughout the year. Have a lovely break over Christmas – and I hope the New Year brings everything you would wish for.
If you’re a new visitor and you enjoyed this post – and you’d like something light and moderately humorous to read over Christmas/New Year – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle.