Geoff watched his wife drain the last of the wine into her glass, “Would I like some ” he asked sarcastically, as he scratched around on his plate for some consoling morsel. His wife was a women undisciplined by concern for others, and had little care for him. She liked to belittle him in public, and he liked to spend the money she gave him as an allowance. She was wealthy and he was between engagements: a position he had held for fifteen years.
When he met her she was in her early thirties and ten years older than him. She settled on him, I thought, because he was happy to escort her to the theatre or the restaurant and willing to take the dismissive commentary she gave on his character and talents. “Oh Geoff can open doors” I heard her say within calculated earshot: “It is his primary ability” when someone complemented her on his manners.
On a recent cruise to admire some new built port with the largest shopping arcade in the western hemisphere, and did the eastern hemisphere have shopping arcades, Geoff found himself sitting at the captain’s table. ” Go and fetch my toothpicks from the cabin” she asked her husband, once sure of the Captain’s attention. She was impervious to embarrassments as long as the conversation made her husband uncomfortable.
I know their intimacy extended as far as the front door and that they had separate bedrooms. I worked as their valet and occasional sounding board if Geoff felt like indulging in emotion; normally he had the ability to notice nothing; “Ah Yes” and “Beautiful” seemed to cover most eventualities. He made a point of avoiding all opinions. Why he sold his soul in this way I never dared to ask, but as I saw him berated on a daily basis I reflected that money may not buy you happiness but misery often comes free of charge.