I recently embarked on a new relationship. It was never meant to be a long term thing, I must confess; more of a stop-gap, if I’m brutally honest. He wasn’t really what I had in mind, but he came along at the right time, and somehow… he stayed.
His name is Alfie, and we are genuinely happy together. He’s no spring chicken, but he’s cute, reliable, and has yet to let me down despite my initial concerns about his stamina. He was actually with The Sister first, but she dumped him for a younger model. He doesn’t talk about it, you know, but I think I’ve helped him to move on.
For Valentine’s Day he took me to Belfast to see a concert, leaving me safely home again afterwards. In return, I got him some shiny new hubcaps, as he was bound to be feeling humiliated, hanging around in the car park all day with only one rusty old hubcap, surrounded by all those other cars with their superior sneers.
Mind you, this was quite an embarrassing experience for Yours Truly, being a bear of very little car-brain. I need those silver things you put on the wheels, I explained to the guy in the auto shop. What size? he asked, as you would probably expect him to ask if you had a clue about such things. He looked at my blank expression, possibly guessing that the next words out of my mouth were about to be “wheel-sized”, and politely asked if the car was outside, as he could go and check for himself.
He returned a few moments later to inform me that I needed size X (obviously I have absolutely no memory of what should be in place of that X), and led me to a wall display of shiny new hubcaps. These ones here are the most popular for wee Clios, he was explaining, but I was not listening, as I had become oblivious to everything but the price tag on each hubcap: all of them around 25 quid!
My helpful and patient assistant observed the look of horror that had crept over my face, and paused in his sales patter, presumably trying to work out what was wrong. Um… are they all about the same price? I asked nervously. He nodded. Ummmmmm…. I didn’t realise they were so expensive… The guy looked surprised, telling me that they were very reasonably priced and I wouldn’t find them cheaper anywhere else, but the sale was now off. In my mind, I was figuring out a get-away excuse that would get me out of paying a hundred pounds for 4 bits of plastic. Alfie could just keep right on being shabby and inferior, for that price.
The assistant hesitated, and you could see in his face that he was trying to work out how much common sense I possessed, lest he offend me by assuming I didn’t understand something perfectly obvious. Evidently he decided that it had to be said. Erm, he said politely, you do know that that’s the price for four, not each? Ohhhhhhhh right.
I sheepishly selected the recommended hubcaps and went to the payment desk, where the man there asked if I knew how to put them on. The young fella who’d been helping me didn’t even give me time to answer, perhaps fearing for the car, the tyres, and the safety of the general public if I were to attempt this task. I’ll just go ahead and put those on for you, he said quickly, almost snatching them out of the cashier’s hand and running from the shop.