Window Dressing

“Buy me a new refrigerator!”

Gemma told her husband while he sipped a hot cup of salabat (a local concoction of crushed ginger cooked in boiling water, a cheap and healthy substitute for coffee). He nearly coughed out the liquid upon hearing her demand.

“We have a ref,” argued Jimmy, scratching a part of his body that was not itchy. It was a habit he acquired whenever his wife asked for something out of the ordinary. “I have no money.”

“Sarah bought a new one yesterday. I heard her boasting about it this morning.”

‘Let her,” he replied automatically. Their close door neighbor were more well-off financially since Larry, Sarah’s husband, worked in the local government office. “Do not compete with her.”

“I am not competing. Why should I?” she shook her head though the tone of her voice clearly expressed the opposite. “Our ref is old. It’s time for a change.”

Jimmy winced. He knew that he could disagree with her all day long but in the end she would get what she wanted, by hook or by crook. He has not finished paying for the sofa set she bought on credit last month.

“Can you postpone any purchase till next week? My boss is out of town.”

He has tried different variations of ruses in the past. None had succeeded so far but he had to try to prevent his wife from giving him more headaches.

However, she was one step ahead of his strategy.

“The appliance store told me yesterday afternoon that we could pay for it next month.”

Jimmy was aghast. He did not know why his left palm itched yesterday: he knew now.

“Are you telling me you already bought one?” he cried out loud.

“They will be delivering it in an hour.”

Gemma was accustomed to her husband’s reactions, which she often described as over acting. She would simply give him her usual sweet smile and everything would be okay.

“But you just asked me five minutes ago. I thought you’re asking for my permission.”

He was overdoing it, the overacting, she thought. But she had to explain herself reasonably to prevent his temper flaring to the full.

“Well, I know you will agree so I decided right there and then,” Gemma explained. “You just agreed, right?”

“What more can I do?” he raised his hands in surrender. He lost the discussion even before it was initiated.

“You promised before we got married that you will give me the moon and the stars,” she reminded him. “It’s just a ref and you’re complaining.”

“You win!”

Jimmy wished he could go to work and never came back. His too-much-in-her-hands wife could not let the day pass without watching the neighbors’ activities. And unfortunately, their purchases.

(to be continued)


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