I think it would be entirely unreasonable to divorce your husband because he let the car run out of petrol. I think you have more of a case the fifth time it happens. That is since we moved here.
I had a therapist when I lived in London who wanted to look for the meaning behind everything. That is what they do after all. They are probably the most optimistic people in the whole world, thinking they can find a meaning to life. I was never quite sure since I was not supposed to ask him questions where he was from. Well, you could ask a question, but he would not answer it. I think, perhaps, he was from the Netherlands. Consequently, whenever I find myself veering off into armchair psychology, I do it in a Dutch accent. Why does my husband persist in letting the car run out of petrol? Make that: "Wvy doss he doo eit?" Doss (etc) he want to punish me? Rescue me? Prove how much I need him? Does he want me to stay in one place? Is he clipping my wings because he thinks I might fly away? And what am I doing by trusting him with this particular job when he has consistently failed to complete it to my satisfaction or indeed, the satisfaction of the car? Do I welcome the opportunity to be angry with him? Do I want to be stranded and rescued like some saddo fairytale Princess?More simply; are we both idiots?
It is after all, not that complicated to fill a car with petrol? You point the nozzle in the right place and stuff comes out the end. It is a boy's job. If he is here, I expect him to do it. If he is not here, I fill the car with petrol. I drive it up to the pump; point it, fire it and pay for it. What I do not do, is run out of petrol. (Unless, that is, my husband was supposed to fill the car before he cleared off to his London office and just didn't bother to tick the box. Then, I do occasionally run out of petrol. Running out of petrol is rapidly becoming one of my hobbies up here. I never ran out of petrol in London. I took the tube. It never ran out of petrol either.)
Friday. Again. On the school run, the last day of term. I was on my way to pick up the six-year-old; the Dixie Chicks were on, loud, when the Saab shuddered. I could not believe it was going to happen again. I drew in closer to the hedge, managed to roll back off the narrow country road into the nearest opening and laid my head on my arms on the steering wheel. If someone were to paint me at this junction, at this juncture in my life, that is how they would ask me to sit; my face hidden, my head resting heavy, seeking sanctuary in the cross of my arms. If the painting had a soundtrack and you could press a red button to listen to it, it would not be the Dixie Chicks, it would be a low, long moan.
I tried to ring him. Naturally my mobile was flat. I do not know why I carry it really - possibly because I am a creature of sad and ineffective habit in the same way as my husband. Luckily, a little lady looked out of her house to see me stumbling around, kicking clods and with my hands in my hair. She let me use her phone. She must be one of the few little old ladies not to be a fan of BBC TV's Crimewatch because I am certain I had the eyes of a murderously intented lunatic. While I was waiting for my husband by the side of the road, another mother on the school run drove by; she smiled and gave me a nice friendly wave. I gave her an equally friendly wave back and thought: "What do you think I am doing by the side of the road, I wonder." I climbed back into the car to wait, ramped up the music, closed my eyes and started shaking my head slowly from side to side. This is how my fellow mother found me five minutes later when she drove back having decided as she wended her merry way onwards to school that I probably should not have been by the side of the road looking like I wanted to kill someone. It was very kind of her to return. I think to myself even if running out of petrol is not in itself a good thing, it does restore your faith in human nature the way people go out of their way to help you recover from your idiocy. I was, however, quite keen for her to leave before my husband turned up in the other car so I could shout at him very loudly.
But that was Friday. Another day entirely. Today, I woke up and my husband said: "Happy anniversary darling. Nineteen years ago, we kissed for the first time." It was April 1 then too.