The builder boyfriend and I have had a terrible row. In the heat of the moment, I said something truly awful to him that may have done irreparable damage. It wasn’t entirely my fault. I haven’t been sleeping. And when I haven’t been sleeping I become irrational. Fine, I become more irrational.
Suddenly, the other night, I fell asleep while lying on the sofa watching CSI Special Victims Unit. The overcomplicated plot acted like a powerful anaesthesia and I found myself drifting into precisely the sort of deep, blessed sleep I have been craving for months.
Before I drifted off, I had asked the builder to run me a bath. As I sank lower and lower, it did occur to me that I ought to tell him to have the bath but I didn’t get time before the duck-down bouncy castle of deep sleep enveloped me in its blissful environs.
The next thing I knew, I was being shaken awake. ‘Do you want this bath, or what?’ The builder was standing over me looking cross.
This is the thing I do not understand about men. Why do they lack the ability to exercise pragmatism and discretion? Why do they interpret every situation literally. I have no doubt that what was going through the builder’s mind was this: ‘The girlfriend for whom I have drawn a hot bath is now asleep. I must wake said girlfriend or said bath will soon cease to be hot and said girlfriend will not enjoy said hot bath. Right, here goes. WAKE UP! No, she’s not waking. I will have to shake her awake. Yes, that is obviously the right thing to do. If necessary, I will get a bucket of cold water and throw that on her to ensure she wakes up in time to enjoy her nice hot bath.’
It simply did not occur to him that shaking me awake after I had gone to sleep properly for the first time in three months would be so unpleasant for me as to entirely negate any relaxation value that the hot bath might hold.
So he shook me and shouted ‘Wake up! Come on!’ until I was moaning and flapping my arms and saying: ‘Wha’? Huh? Has something happened?’ And when I say something, I mean the carbon monoxide alarm had better be going off, bare minimum. Ideally, there should be a riot outside requiring the imposition of martial law, or a forest fire on Tooting Common.
But of course there wasn’t. There was just a hot bath that I was not getting into and he thought I ought to be. ‘Don’t wan’ it…’ I slurred, and I fell back to sleep for a few minutes before he started again.
‘Are you going to get in that bath or what?’ he shouted, literally at the top of his voice. ‘Because if you’re not, I may as well have it.’ Ah, so this is what it is about, I thought vaguely, as I drifted back up from the bouncy castle.
‘Ha’ the baaaa…’ I slurred, ‘plea’…ha’ the baaaa…’ And I sank back again. Downwards I fell until I landed back in the squidgy folds of sleep. Weeeeeee! Aaaaah…
‘COME ON! WAKE UP!’ he screamed.
The bouncy castle then turned into a rock-hard trampoline which catapulted me all the way back to full consciousness in a split second. ‘What is the matter with you?’ I shouted, sitting bolt upright on the sofa. ‘I mean, what IS the matter with you?’
‘Nothing’s the matter with me. I’ve run you a bath and now you won’t get in it.’ And he stormed out of the living room and clattered down the corridor to the bathroom, where he slammed the door and started throwing things around inside.
Then I heard the splash of him getting into the bath. And this was when something inside me, some vital component whose function it is to restrain base instincts, went ‘ping!’ Those of a nervous and/or judgmental disposition had better look away now.
I shouted: ‘Good! And I hope you drown in the damn thing!’ Look, I obviously didn’t mean it. For one thing, a man of the builder’s size and stature cannot drown in a standard bath. It is not logistically possible.
For another thing, I don’t think that even at that moment — the worst moment of our relationship to date — I really wanted him to cease to be. I just wanted to register the full weight of my displeasure at his callous and hopelessly left brain literal approach to doing something nice for me. By intimating that I hoped the bathwater might overwhelm him, I simply wished to communicate that he had caused me great emotional distress.
But whatever I intended, he got out of that bath and hasn’t spoken to me since.