This issue of
Citylife

Chiang Mai Citylife > Articles > Vive la Difference

Vive la Difference

“Throw me a pair of knickers from the knickers drawer please,” shouted Mrs. D. Having selected a delicate pastel colour of folded material, I opened the bathroom door a bit and threw it through the small gap. I knew what she was doing so there was no way I was going in there.

“They’re leggings”, she said so I tried again. “Nope. Boob tube.”

I managed to get it right on the third attempt but not without grumbling about the fact that the aforementioned drawer was incorrectly named. It should be called something like ‘Lower Abdominal, Limb and Torso Covering Items Horizontal Sliding Storage Facility’. Not the most catchy name but definitely more accurate. You put your hand in expecting to get one thing and you get something else instead. A bit like life. Nothing is as it seems or as you expect. Which is probably why I am what Mrs. D describes as a namby-pamby liberal. Actually, she calls me a wuss (amongst other things) but I know what she means.

I try not to be and wish that my views were more polarised to the right or the left of the socio-political divide. It would certainly make things easier. For a start, I wouldn’t have to think for myself; I could just adopt and adapt whatever doctrine was appropriate to the situation and regurgitate it parrot fashion. Anyone who didn’t agree with me would be a bastard and not worthy of my time or effort to understand their point of view or why something is as it is. My world would be a lot more straightforward. Which it isn’t. At least not from my perspective.

“Look! Even a black and white photograph has shades of grey!” I pointed out later that morning in answer to why I am incapable of making a decision. Of course, I prefer to think of it as taking a more balanced approach; consider the options, evaluate the alternatives, weigh up the consequences and then make a more informed choice. To Mrs. D, who does everything at ninety miles-an-hour based on a belief system slightly to the right of ‘Atilla the Hun’ but without the sensitivity, this is a complete anathema.

The key question of course is whether her decisions are any better than mine? Not that a relationship is about keeping score…who are we kidding, right?…but my experience is that it seems to make little difference in terms of the end result. Her decisions are probably right half of the time, mine the other. It is just the speed and reasoning with which we get to the point of doing something that differs.

The practical effect is that she has often finished what she has to do while I am still faffing about wondering what is the best way to start. My perceived prevarication and procrastination drive her mad which is not good for either the household decibel or blood pressure levels. Especially when it is something important which in this case, it definitely was not.

With pursed lips and a barely contained anger, she spoke very slowly and clearly, leaving a pause after each word to make sure that I understood. “Would, you, like, it, with, cream, or, without?”

All I had asked was whether the coffee we were using had that fair-trade symbol on it and then explained how, if everyone took the small step of ensuring that it did, the bean farmer might receive a better wage for his work. Although equally, one could never be sure that it was nothing more than a marketing tool and ultimately just meant more profit for the corporation shareholders whose name was on the jar. The look on her face told me that this was not the moment to continue the discussion and so I shut up.

“Black. Or. White,” she hissed in such a way such that time seemed to slow down. And for some reason, I decided that this would be the ideal moment to say something profound and meaningful.

“I think that I will forgo the coffee if its authenticity and environmental credentials cannot be established with a level of certainty that ensures the wellbeing of all those involved in its production and subsequent distribution as well as the environmental impact and appropriate mitigation understood.”

She shook her head. “What are you on about? It’s fresh cream.”

“Ah. In that case, white please.”

With a contemptuous laugh, she pointed out how, yet again, Mr. Wishy-washy had changed his opinion at the drop of a hat. I explained that I think of it more as adapting to the situation. After all, I have my principles. And if you don’t like them or they don’t work, I am sure that I can find some others that I can use. Now, let’s talk more about knickers.