The other evening, I was speaking with beloved Popeye about the shocking possibility he might have to spend some time on his own.
On his own, in our house.
Now the weirdness of this will not be lost on you dear fellow navy wife or girlfriend or partners or
fuck buddy casual relationship person.
We are the ones who are alone in the house all the time. We are the ones who might as well have a bachelors degree in Americas Next Top Model or X Factor or whatever.
Popeye doesn’t know where anything is.
Popeye has only just learnt when bin day is.
Popeye has no idea where any paperwork is kept or filed. He may genuinely believe it all lives in the pile in the kitchen under the boiler, I don’t know.
Anyway this conversation got me thinking. What would Popeye do if he was the navy wife and I was the deploying sailor?
The short term answer (obviously) is that he would play a lot of Playstation, eat a ridiculous amount of dominoes and
watch a gross amount of porn watch lots of TV.
“But what would he do after that?” I wondered.
And then it hit me. And him.
He couldn’t handle it. It’s not that we aren’t strong enough, it’s that he wouldn’t be able to stand being the one out of control, hanging on my every phone call, waiting for each ping of his email inbox.
That makes him sound a bit controlling and fifty shades of grey-ish. Trust me, he’s reaaaalllllly not. For truths.
And he would get so fed up at having to make me parcels and he wouldn’t be able to think of interesting ideas. Accept maybe an entire box devoted to Arnie films. (Can you imagine my glee-not.) The idea of him writing me a letter is bizarre in the extreme.
He admits he would get v jealous knowing I was visiting all these exotic places whilst he would be stuck flicking through the TV guide with a can of diet coke in his hand.
(Actually I do get insanely jealous of where he goes but I just try to remind myself of all the absolute sh*t holes he also has to go to too.)
( I also remind myself that he basically has seen the inside of a handful of pubs a ten minute walk from the dockyard in aforementioned magical exotic locations, and has not had the spiritual and cultural experience that I am lusting after).
The dog would probably starve or run away, or have his own dominoes pizza order.
Our car would mostly like be towed or pulled over at some point. With Popeye looking all bemused when the police officer asks him why he hasn’t taxed/MOT’d/insured it. He has never really had to do these things, at least not without substantial nagging, and it would honestly not occur to him. We once paid no council tax for six months because it was the one bill we decided he would be in charge of. I got a letter saying when our court date was. For real.
The Royal Navy equips our loved ones with fantastic practical skills; It picks them up by the earlobes gives them a good shake et voilá! They become a skilled engineer or chef or weapons firer thing.
In fact, I can say, hand on my heart, that if Popeye hadn’t joined up I would not have fancied him. He admits he used to be just a bit
chavvy rough around the edges let’s say. Not Olives type at all.
Instead the Navy took the gobby teen and taught him self discipline, motivation to succeed, how to work hard at a goal, and how to support a team. It taught him self respect and self worth.
However it did not teach him to sort the colours from whites nor prepared him for encounters with the DVLA.
It didn’t teach him to pop round to a neighbours on moving day to ask when the recycling and rubbish goes, or to always have a frozen emergency pint of milk in the freezer. Only “real life”, or civvie life let’s say, can teach you stuff like that.
Navy life taught him a lot of things, things that I have literally no idea about (and let’s be honest here, no interest in either).
Civvie life taught me the mundane crap to keep me (hopefully) out of court and with a roof over our heads.
He really would find it tricky to keep this little Oyl family running smoothly if I was deployed. And emotionally I don’t know how he would cope. Luckily, for him, he won’t have to find out how to.
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