E. has a number of peculiar quirks that I find endearing, possibly because he is so different from me. For example, I tend to avoid background noise whenever possible. If I am trying to concentrate, I prefer silence. I cannot bear to have the television or radio on if I am on the phone. And apart from the occasional exuberant belting of Broadway showtunes in the shower, I also observe a sort of monastic quietude when I am home alone.
E., on the other hand, likes a running soundtrack. Much of the time he creates his own. He whistles, he hums, he carries on private monologues with himself out loud as he is cooking, driving, or trying to remember where he left his sunglasses. He cannot bear to eat dinner without music playing. And the first thing he does in the morning upon getting out of bed is turn on the radio.
Specifically, he tunes in to a sports talk show. To my ears, this program sounds like blahblahblah sports blahblahblah football ("soccer" to you Americans out there) blahblahblah. People phone up to express their views on the minutiae of the game, dissecting every detail in every play, every tactic, every move. For hours. And hours. And hours. Occasionally there is a little digression to talk about something like horseracing, but then it's back to football.
I don't know if I can accurately convey to you the the absolute obsession with which some people follow football here, but let me tell you, it's pretty all consuming.
My interest in football extends mainly to observing the trends in David Beckham's hair and tattoos. I also get relatively animated about the game during the World Cup. But that's because there is usually a football pool on the go, and if my team win I get something like £10 or so as prize money. Plus it's hard to escape it during World Cup time, as the whole country seems to grind to a halt when the England games are on. But otherwise, all the football chat sort of washes over me in a wave...
One thing, though, that I have picked up, partly from this barrage of radio chat and partly from watching the odd game here and there, is the notion of a "red card". For those of you who like me who are hopeless ignorant about soccer/football, this basically means a player gets ejected from the game for bad behaviour or misconduct, like a malicious foul. The player cannot then be replaced. The referee doesn't even have to say anything, he just holds up a red card, and off the player must go. Like David Beckham! During the World Cup against Argentina! Because, like a dickhead, he kicked that guy! And England lost because of it! And it was oooo, dramatic!
I've decided that it would be really useful to have Infertility Red Cards. You know, for those scenarios when somebody has said something so unbelievably stupid or crass that it doesn't even warrant discussion or explanation. Just hold up the red card and bam! That person is summarily ejected from the room/conversation/relationship.
I'll give you an example. The other day, I was talking with my (now heavily pregnant) Team Leader near the end of a very tiresome working day, in which everything had gone badly. Another person came up and started chatting to us, and quickly realised from our hangdog expressions that Team Leader and I had had a growler of a day.
"I bet you two wish you could just head off to the pub and drown your sorrows," said the person. "Oh, well, I don't mean you, Team Leader, obviously, given your condition. Hahahaha. But you, Mare, you could go swally down a few pints if you felt like it, I bet. Unless, HAHAHA, there was something you were wanting to tell us. HAHAAHAHA."
Awkward pause. Team Leader and I exchanged pained glances.
Excruciatingly, the person then went on, TOTALLY OBLIVIOUS, and grinning like an inane loon. "There isn't anything though right, Mare? That you were wanting to tell us?" Nudge, nudge, wink wink.
See? Infertility Red card, right there.
Since then, I've mentally handed out at least two red cards a day. It's actually quite satisfying. Now if only I could devise a lifetime ban for some of these people...