Three children that she nonetheless had given birth to strengthened her conviction of the frivolity of the awkward exercise she went through under the burden of matrimonial duty half a century ago. ‘Labor in vain’ - she kept grumbling and all her life through secretly hoped that one day there would be the mutually adopted new international mandate under the UN auspices to conceive in a more appropriate and reasonably humane manner. I meekly hoped that her rather unusual grievances hadn’t made any undesirable impact on the second and third generation.
I don’t know if this had any bearing on my father-in-law’s profile. He was the Second Secretary of the Regional Party Committee ( in charge of land melioration ) and obviously had no misconception as regards human procreation practices. There were many indications of that.
When you marry a pretty, young, lovely woman you opt for either romantic mood ever after or forced peaceful coexistence under the delicately manicured hairless thumb. Not that I dislike this part of my wife’s anatomy... But when you have been run for two and a half decades on end there comes the time to wonder how it all had started.
It was on the second cloudless year of our married life that my beloved blossoming Tamara informed me matter-of-factly of the three Deadly Sins that she would never be prepared to condone. The sins apparently had something to do with my cleanliness habits often discussed. Little did I care then about the implications of this statement.
Later on I came to understand how important it was sometimes to listen to what your better half was saying. We lived in a small apartment in a high-rise near the Garden Ring, Moscow, Russia. Our union was conspicuously childless despite repeated efforts on my part to procreate at least two off-springs a week. My third attempt would resolutely be denied on account of one of the three Deadly Sins, coitted endlessly by none other but me.
Wet stains or footprints carelessly left on the shining parquet floors of our apartment. Or in the bathroom. Or in the kitchen.
The Third Deadly Sin was a bit intricate one, taking into consideration my wife’s affection toward pets, seemingly cats and reptiles. To cut the long story short, I was supposed to clean up two cats’ lavatory pans regularly with no comment. And the procedure should, on no account, leave any marks on the floors. Two stray turtles presented no problem whatsoever: they were splashing mindlessly in the bathtub unless I was in the mood to wash my shirts and underwear exactly where I shouldn’t have.
My scavenging efforts with cats burdened me the least: I loved the damn things and didn’t mind their mewing presence in our two-room apartment. What I didn’t like about the creatures was their ability to refill the pans moments after I had emptied them. Particularly when forbidden and frowned-upon ‘feet-washing’ was under way. In the process there would be some betraying stains left here and there.
It always happened the way I could never predict. On a sunny winter afternoon fresh from my day studies at the college I would lock myself in the sanctity of a tiny bathroom with a heap of offensively smelling clothes floating in the half -full bathtub. Another two hours of their unperturbed soaking in the tub with four handfuls of expensive ( at that time ) washing powder dissolved in hot water. Then I would fervently perform a savage dancing ritual tramping and treading on the now soaked up clothes. This is what ‘foot-washing’ is all about.
With luck the washed clothes would be hung on the balcony to dry up in a matter of fifteen-twenty minutes. More damp foot prints on the floor to wipe out... then the cats...back to the bathroom...more stains on the floor...tiptoeing to the balcony with the washed out clothes...wet footprints on the damn parquet. Then the cats again... With no luck I would be and have been repeatedly caught red handed or tracked down to other two sins committed through freshly swept stains, and appropriately reprimanded at many a matrimonial night.
This is how Philip, Anastasia, Youri and Helen have remained stuck on a drawing board, marking my wrongdoing either with the tub, cat’s pan or kitchen proverbial tidiness.
But for annual overhauls of the water supply system in our house we would have ended up childless. The first disconnection helped our darling Gregory to come into being. He was followed by Vladimir two years after and then Natasha. Gregory is now a full-fledged manager with P&G branch in Moscow, adorable daughter Natasha is a reasonably sound back-vocal singer with the popular Russian rock group and Vladimir is a college student in Wyoming (of all places in USA).
Much water has flowed under the bridges since that time. Now my wife is a prominent figure in ‘Women’s Drive for All-Out Cleanliness International’. She spends most of her time abroad as if cleanliness has been the main problem in the West. I am free to experiment with washing my clothes with feet almost every other day totally unpunished which is …getting boring. It was my unnoticed sins that drove me to playfully send a message on the Internet about setting up a world-wide network for husbands in distress. I was amazed at the number of males complaining about husbands’ beating and neglect cases. Soon there was formed a ‘Cruelty Against Husbands’ Association with four thousand members from seventeen comfortably developed states.
I could never guess how many boisterous looking men had been suffering from their greedy wives. Now that I learnt about other people’s troubles my three Deadly Sins look like a joyride around a summer park and my 220 pounder Tamara is next to a goddess.
Forbear to judge: for we all are sinners. Was it William Peck from New Zealand who said it at our last ‘Feet-Washers’ Convention in Atlanta last fall ? Or that naughty guy Bill Shakespear?…