I don’t frequent pubs – it’s silly for someone who does not drink to try and drown his sorrows.
But earlier this week I landed up in a bar-room. I wasn’t pondering life for more than 10 minutes before a woman approached me.
“You look sad,” she said.
“You look sadder,” I said. It was obvious life didn’t deliver on its promise to teenage girls about a fairy-tale future waiting.
She was in her late thirties, her blonde hair had dark roots and her make-up was smudged. She had clearly been crying earlier.
She invited herself to sit down at my table and told me her heartbreaking story.
It was the age-old tale of a husband who fell for a younger colleague when his wife began to approach forty.
“In short,” she said after a long monologue, “We all realise a successful marriage takes work. I was willing to give a lot, but wanted recognition in return. I was willing to work like a slave for him, but it would have made such a difference if I knew he would also sweat for me.
“When the dominee said ‘by the power invested in me by the state,’ I didn’t expect to be put on a pedestal, but just sometimes a girl would love to be treated like a princess for a day.
“But marriage turns into a numbers game. One year, two years… Bond repayments. Levy. No thank you for a month, two months. And when the big fouroh is around the corner, you’re in trouble. Just numbers. No tenderness. No compassion.”
Later her mother dragged me from my table.
“It’s fun to drink with her,” she said. “I used to drink because of her.”
That evening taught me two things about cold drinks. The first is that, unlike beer, it does not make crying blondes pretty. It only makes you want to go to the bathroom.
More importantly, it reminds you that husbands are like political parties.
They’ll probably cheat on you in the end, but you are much better off if you choose one who isn’t just interested in you for the numbers game.
You want one who has compassion for you, even when you get older.
And if you are lucky, one who will treat you like a princess. Even if it’s just for a day.