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The importance of being frivolous

Published:Tuesday | May 22, 2012 | 12:00 AM

By Gordon Robinson

Despite my protestations that this is becoming too regular, The Old Ball and Chain has contrived another hostile column takeover, this time to warn her sistren about idle husbands.

Grudgingly, she's allowed me space to reply. First, here's what Old BC writes:


If your husband is retired (tired yesterday; tired again today); or fired; or, like mine, just bone idle, be careful. Don't try to stimulate him by bringing him on your shopping trips. It's dangerous.

Years ago, Old Grey Balls retired from the rat race (complained that, even if you won that race, you're still a rat) and started 'working from home'. Turns out 'twas just a ruse to enslave me while he idled. At first, I thought I'd pity Old GB's suffering from too-much-spare-time disease and take him with me to the discount store. He says I forced him, but, honestly, I was only trying to motivate him. He grumbled incessantly that my purchasing decisions took forever. He put whatever caught his eye into the trolley, regardless of price or quality. He made himself an unbearable nuisance, so I told him to find something else to do in the store. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

I received the following letter from the store:

'Dear Mrs Robinson,

Over the past two months, your husband has created havoc in our discount store. We can't tolerate his behaviour and are forced to ban both of you from the establishment. Your husband's offences are listed below. Video-surveillance evidence exists:

January 10: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people's carts when they weren't looking;

January 17: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women's restroom.

January 24: Went to the customer-service desk and tried to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway;

February 7: Moved a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.

February 21: When a clerk asked if they could help him, he began crying and screamed, 'Why can't you people leave me alone?' We had to call paramedics.

March 6: Darted around the store suspiciously, loudly humming the 'Mission Impossible' theme.

March 13: Hid in a clothing rack and, when people browsed through, yelled, "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

March 20: Took a box of condoms to the check-out clerk and asked where the fitting room was.

And last, but not least:

March 27: Went into a fitting room; shut the door; waited a while; and then yelled very loudly, "Hey! There's no toilet paper in here."

That particular prank caused one of our clerks to faint. When asked what on earth possessed him, he alleged you instructed him to find something interesting to do and, since it was the day after your birthday, he felt he should obey.'

Ladies, listen to me. Leave jobless husbands at home. Don't try to socialise them. Trust me, your husbands aren't men. They're just boys grown tall.

My reply:

That's Old BC's story in which she gives me no credit for my sheer genius. I ask you, guys, as independent observers, do I have to go to the store again? Do I have to watch while she interminably scrutinises each and every sardine tin to see which is cheaper or has a minor dent? Do I get to stay at home and watch all the sports I want? I rest my case.

It's a lot like cooking. Early on (the boys were seven and five), the alarm woke her five hours after she'd finished cleaning up after one of my gatherings (no matter how many you employ to clean up, she's never satisfied and must do it all over). Tired, she mumbled, "Go fix your sons' breakfast," before falling asleep again.

I nearly fell for it. Gathering my wits about me, I asked the children what they wanted for breakfast, while standing beside the leftover cherry pie. Of course, they wanted cherry pie. Easy as pie, to their great joy, it was a cherry pie-orange juice breakfast.

While they're eating, Old BC stumbled downstairs. Seeing what the boys were merrily consuming, she went ballistic. And my sons, who'd been singing my praises as the world's greatest father, lied on me and said, "We asked for cereal and fruit, but he forced us to eat cherry pie!" Now I'm banished from the kitchen, too. Old BC says I'll poison the children and I make too much mess when I cook.

Guys, maybe we're dumb, but we're not stupid.

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to