Structural Integrity!

She’d sighed arguably more times now than the twirls of the ceiling fan above her.

“I swear, he’ll be the death of me!!”

She was clearly exasperated. He was clearly amused – why this fact didn’t dawn on her…well, he could already guess the answer to that…

“I have to strike first…I have to hit him hard before he does!”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa…what’s all this striking?”

“You’re a guy! You should understand that I, being the weaker vessel, ought to utilize the element of surprise, because if he attacks, I might not recover from the damage!”

“Ah an, I say ‘wait’ sȩ…once more, WHAT IS ALL THIS ‘STRIKING’?”

“Divorce!”

He didn’t believe his ears – they were clearly faulty. If they weren’t, he’d have thought she just took this comedy to another level.

“Sorry, did you say ‘the horse’? Which one?”

“Divorce! D-I-V-ORCE!! Are you playing on me?! You were supposed to be my listening ear!”

They weren’t faulty…he had heard right.Really? She was contemplating divorce? THIS LADY?? It took all the mental strength he could muster from dropping from his seat and rolling on the ground in fits of laughter. Of course, the fact that they were in a restaurant helped restrain him some too.

Ǫrȩ mi, fara balȩ[i]”, he said with a feigned serious-look. “Did you hear me? Cool your jets! You’re an educated colleague…why not let’s start from the beginning in a very…civilized…non-brazen conclusion-jumping manner…ok? Good. This is what I gather from all you’ve said thus far – you hate your husband, so–”

“Wrong.”

“’Scuse me?”

“I don’t hate him…to hate is evil…”

“Oh-kay…you are not happy with him right now, becau–”

“He’s a drain!” she interrupted again. “I know the two of you are friends, but I must be honest with you, as my friend, and former classmate too. He comes home, and life leaves the room! I can’t breathe anymore! My BP rises! My nerves steel, in preparation of some verbal onslaught which I’m sure is oncoming! Arguments arguments arguments!!! Oh God…Why me, Lord? Why did I get this kind of husband?? I don’t deserve this! Why me?!?” she was almost causing a scene. He wrestled the chuckle back down. I can’t believe she still can’t see things clearly! What was it about human nature?

“As I was saying: you feel he has not changed any from the day you married till now. Your communication’s always been shot – this I’ve always known myself – and you don’t agree on many issues; your methods of settling those arguments have always been terrible, and even escalating into violence if care isn’t taken.”

“Yes! YES! Ah, if only he had your eyes and half your sense, I would not be in this mess of a marriage!” Again, he had to restrain himself – this woman will be the death of me!

“You recognized earlier”, he continued, “that he is my friend. Well, due to the nature of the current situation, I will reveal this confidential bit: he also came to see me…about…your marriage…and…well, about you, too.”

“Me?! Hmmm! What did that battle axe say about me?”

“Well, pretty much everything you’ve said about him.”

“Haa!!!! Mo daran!![ii] He’s lying oh!”

“How so?”

“I’m innocent! VERY INNOCENT!! He is to blame for everything…every…thing!”

“You accusing my friend of over a decade of lying to me?”

“You believe him? When I’m clearly the wronged party here?!”

*Sigh*. He continued. “I will ignore the insults to my buddy, your husband, and just move on. You see, I believe the problem here to be so simple, I will tell you the exact same solution I tendered to him, which is the simplest one available. You ready?”

“I tell you, I’m the wronged party here! He’s the one to change! There’s no need giving me any solution: if he won’t take his place as the head of the home and–”

“Okay! I begin, and I will take advantage of the fact that you’re a civil engineer by framing the answer in a way you’ll understand: your marriage is collapsing; heck, always has been, no?”

“Yes!”

“Okay. Now, if you were told about a building displaying such traits as cracks along the length of the floor and walls, swaying of the building in moderate winds, buckling walls, and even some sinking, to mention a few, would you be able to diagnose what was wrong there?”

“Of course now!”

“Even without setting foot there to see things for yourself?”

“That would only serve to get some more technical details, but if everything I’m told is as it is, the symptoms you’ve listed, I don’t need to be there to know the cause.”

“Which is…?”

“A terrible, or failing foundation.”

“Correct. This is caused by…?”

“Shoddy materials and/or contractors mostly.”

“Okay! Now, what if the owners of the house insist that can’t be the case?”

“Why would they, when it’s so obvious?”

“Because they are the contractors – they built their own house.”

“Then they’re idiots! Why were they allowed to build in the first place? They did a lousy job, and can’t admit it?? Idiots!”

“Indeed they are. Indeed they are…”

“Why are you staring at me?” *Sigh* C’mon!

“Moving on, what if the couple were both the smartest builders in the world?”

“What does that have to do with building a crappy house?!”

“How about the most generous and loving people who wouldn’t hurt a fly?”

“Again: so?! Crappy foundation equals crappy house!”

“The most deserving of a good life? The ones everyone wants to succeed and be happy?”

“Are these people real, so I can do the job you seem to be afraid of doing: telling them to their faces that A CRAPPY FOUNDATION YIELDS A CRAPPY HOUSE. No matter WHO you are OR WHAT you build, for that matter. PERIOD.”

“So then: what would you say is the step they should take to fix their home?” He used ‘home’ instead of ‘house’ in hopes she’d finally catch his drift.

“Simple: work on the foundations, breaking down the entire house and rebuilding if necessary. And they have to do it quickly, there’s the danger that building could collapse any moment and hurt someone, all due to their folly.”

“What if…what if they traded blame amongst themselves over all this? How far would that go in fixing the problem?”

“Waste of time…they can blame after it’s fixed; the foundation, ergo the home, won’t repair itself, you know…”

“Well, there you go.”

“What?”

“I’ve, or maybe more accurately you’ve tendered my solution.”

“No you haven’t! You just asked me about a building problem. You made no mention of my marriage at all! Ha, why are you laughing now?!”

He couldn’t help himself anymore! “I guess,” he said in-between guffaws, “I shouldn’t be surprised at your reaction!”

“And why is that?!”

“Hmmm…to phrase it simply, I guess I’ve come to realize that people are more apt at diagnosing other’s problems than theirs.” Though yours is a most staggering example!

He was planning the excuse he’d use to leave di di mau, when a troubling realization stopped him. “You know another ‘funny’ thing? Your reaction, just now, was the same as your husband’s – exasperated he also questioned me as to why I didn’t offer any marriage tips and was instead ‘prattling’ about structures.”

“You trying to say that we’re one and the same…made for each other?” the sarcasm in her tone drew thicker than oil.

“Well…” More like doomed with each other. He changed the subject, hoping to God in his closet that some miracle, like the one that made these two fall in love, would somehow prevent the inevitably impending train wreck that was his two close friends and their marriage.

 


[i] Ǫrȩ mi, fara balȩ – Yoruba, translates “My friend, calm down”

[ii] Mo daran – Yoruba, translates “I’m in trouble/I’m doomed”

© Adeleye Adeolu, 2012. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story must be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the author’s permission.

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