Has anyone noticed that by the mere shifting of the letter “i” by just two places, “marital” becomes “martial”?
And my point is?
That even though we may have invented it, what most of us know about hacking it in a marriage would fit into a thimble with room left over for the Taj Mahal. Yet we view the prospect of being married with the same twitchy excitement that the average Hindi film producer does his forthcoming film. Which is - who cares if there’s one failing every minute, we can’t wait to take the plunge because something tells us (the darling way he burps after biryani, maybe?) that not only is this for keeps, not only will we be putting away slices of our golden anniversary cake for the diamond one but that …what was that again?…ah yes, that we’re going to die in each other’s arms.
Only to discover four hours later that….
I know, I know. Sigh.
So, naturally, like aforementioned film producer, we’re constantly on the lookout for the magic formula, the foolproof plan and we don’t really care if it comes from the numerologist who told you to spell your name Bunshawli or the massage-wali bai.
Or, for that matter, a recent op-ed by Maureen Dowd, in the New York Times titled “An Ideal Husband”.
Ooh, I thought.
If one of America’s most respected newspapers allows one of its most toasted columnists to set aside more weighty matters of state and dwell on matrimony, there must be a very good reason. (Maureen herself has never been married and has written a book titled “Are Men Necessary”.)
Apparently there was. While the divorce rate – unlike the price of crude - was holding steady at 50%, the recent rash of celebrity Prince Charmings turning out to be Royal Toads of the Blood compelled the need for some urgent introspection on the subject.
I mean, we look to celebrities only for one thing - to assure us that a happily-ever-after definitely lurks somewhere behind that sunset. So, when Christie Brinkley discovers that her baa-lamb No. 4 has a 3000$-per-month-internet-porn habit and an 18-year old piece of fancy, naturally it’s time for us to gaze moodily at ye olde navel and ponder – have we forgotten how to tell good husband material from garden manure?
I was worried for Maureen. Who was she going to consult on the matter? Oprah? Ellen Degeneres? Hilary Clinton? Or closer home, Mayawati? Well, she did the only sensible thing that there was do and sought the advice of a man who, more than anyone else, should know. A 79 year-old Roman Catholic priest.
I’m sorry to say, folks – nothing that we didn’t already know.
I mean, of course he has to make us laugh. And have charming relatives. (Or at least a mother who isn’t Godzilla in drag.) And has had her apron strings/saree pallu snipped along with his umbilical cord. And is as good with money (earning it) as he is in bed. And remembers birthdays, knows what colour ecru is, the difference between a bad mood and PMT, and that roses are good but diamonds are better. And doesn’t order his underwear from the Victoria’s Secret catalogue.
But where on God’s Earth are we going to find it all – and in one man? (Why do you think Draupadi tanked up on five?) Subhiksha? On the buy-six-get-one free-shelf? Anyway, even if he did exist (and I’m told there have been the odd sighting or two), he’d probably be out hunting for the Ideal Wife. Which briefly is - cooks like mother, makes love like - how the hell should I know, you filthy man? And looks like a million bucks without spending a single one.
So, I thought to meself - why I can’t have a go at this? I mean, what does a 79-year-old celibate man know about an ideal husband that I – who’s never been married since age three - don’t.
So, here goes.
First of all, don’t look too hard.
In fact, always keep your eyes slightly screwed up so that he’s a constant blur. (Will come handy later, because after a few years of marriage, apparently, everything is a blur.)
Ask him questions like if you were to choose between knitting socks for my mother’s pom and surfing porn sites on the Net, what would you choose? (Stick your fingers into your ears and sing a Himesh Reshamiya song loudly while he answers. That’s good practice for post-marital arguments. And post-coital snoring.)
Check his bank balance. I’m not specifying the lower limit because there’s no saying how low some women will sink but if it’s anything upwards a million euros, marry him even if he has breath that could double up as anaesthesia.
Don’t worry too much about his mother. You can always feed her poisoned mysore pak.
Unless you are Madonna or J.K. Rowling, never sign a pre-nup. Look how far it got Heather Mills.
What about all the other stuff?
What other stuff?
Good human being, intelligent, showers every day, has same interests, not a habitual liar, cheat, etc., etc. And what about that t-shirt with “So I’m a Pedophile. So What!” printed on it?
Most importantly - what about love?
Tell you what. Check his feet. If they aren’t pointed backwards, call the wedding planner.
If they are, remember the advice of an aunt that I never heeded - “You can always train him later, dear.”