Cellar Wild: The Banquet

If you think that the definition of the word WIFE means something a woman becomes after she gets married, well think again.

I am sure that every mother who holds a job, self employed or otherwise, has asked or been asked the question: “How do you juggle family life with a career”? I am also pretty sure that every father who holds a job, self employed or otherwise, has never been asked the same question.

No one would dream of asking a guy this question because everyone automatically knows that his home affairs are safely in the “back office” department; in other words his home affairs are the terrain of the Wife.

Having been brought up by some one’s wife and seen and known a good number of wives in the course of my 36 years- (hell, I’ve even been a wife myself on occasion); I have had ample opportunity to discover the true meaning of the word wife.

A wife is any individual m/f who is prepared in exchange for payment, (assumed)security, symbiotic dependency, material comfort, all of the above, (and/or even more obscure reasons known only to the individual involved) to place ones interests on a secondary level and assume a subservient position for a given amount of time (usually a life-time) so that ones significant other can go out into the world, have achievements and discover ones’ genius.

As a teenager in boarding school; we had to attend mass on Sundays and there was this hymn, a favourite amongst other students, which I hated with a passion. This ultra-patriarchal song (like every thing else that reeks of church) was symbolically about a banquet, to which God intermittently invites man to attend in the course his lifetime. The refrain, the most awful part, is about the excuses that man, wallowing in his pathetic little world of self importance and materialism, gives as a response to God’s call. It goes like this:

The Banquet


“ I cannot come to the banquet,
Don’t trouble me now!
I have married a WIFE, I have bought me a cow.
I have fields and commitments, that cost a pretty sum,
Pray, hold me excused.
I cannot come”.

The question that always popped into my mind was whether the wife and the cow were one and the same. For some inexplicable reason I assumed this was the case. Thus assumed, my armpits would prickle and burn with outrage every time I heard this song and I always kept my mouth stubbornly shut at the refrain.

Life has taught me that in the grown up world, there are only 2 kinds of individuals: Husbands and Wives. Husbands are the Einsteins, the Picassos, Galileos, the Mandelas, the Stephen Hawkings and the Colombuses. Individuals who go out the there to conquer and shape the world.

Wives, on the other hand, are the back office of the former. They are the faceless, anonymous ones who stay at home, to hold the fort, raise the kids and the keep the fires burning so that the husbands out there can become heroes.

One can safely conclude that the key to the success of every genius lies in the having of a good wife. I have tried on both shoes and discovered that I am a born husband. (I swear I am!)

Having known both shoes, I have also learned to deeply and most humbly appreciate the wife.

So whenever anyone asks me again in the future, how I do the home-career spastic juggle I will look them in the eye with my best poker face and say that I rent me a good  PA (nervous cough) wife every now and then.

For behind every career, every success, every hero, every dictator, every genius, behind it all, is a damn good Back-office, or PA, or Cow,…. or a Wife.

(This was first published at The wild woman in the cellar, here. Thanks to Chinello Ifebigh for the collaboration!)