web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: Don't File "Maggie Q" Under "Tuban Project"
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Thursday, June 08, 2006
Don't File "Maggie Q" Under "Tuban Project"

I am typing this in my husband's office in Setiabudi. It is my second day in Jakarta, a trip that is long overdue, postponed by my rather busy schedule, and also by the fact that Saiffuddin has been making frequent trips home. We're finally settling the rent on the Menteng house, and the crucial school enrolment for the kids. I was hoping there is furniture hunting somewhere in the itinerary, but I guess not. This whole transfer thing is an exercise in brinksmanship -- my kids, together with my mother, (hopefully) my father, my sister and her family will be coming over to stay at my house by the end of the month, and there is a good chance they'd be sleeping on the floor.

These are mundane problems, housekeeping stuff, really. I want to write about something else, and I'll have to type quickly before my husband comes out of this meeting he is currently in.

It started out like this : I found that my husband has a picture of me as his desktop background. In it, I am sitting on a petarakna, or a royal wedding dais, wearing a purple baju pahang, with my husband's school samping, and draped across my shoulders is my favourite kain panjang sembilan -- a silk limar in burgundy. It was taken by Papa Khalid, and I emailed this photo, along with a few others, to my husband, in the hope that he would use it exactly the way he is using it now.

Of course, we never think husbands can ever get things right. I complain that among the photographs I sent, he had to choose the one that made me look fat.

"No, no", Saiffuddin insisted, "this is the prettiest one".

I purse my lips in disagreement.

"Okay then, pick the one you like, and use that on my desktop", he said, and then quickly left to attend a meeting.

Listen, there are few things worse than leaving your wife all on her own at your desk. Unless you're sure, unless you are ---, oh, unless nothing, because believe me, all wives will manage to find something incriminating. For example, a few years ago, I was amused to discover that my husband had a whole stack of Malay magazines in his drawer, because they all contained pictures of this particular Sabahan actress. Major kantoi. My husband couldn't live that down for years. Why, I still give him that smirk every time Fred Flinstone calls out to his wife.

Well, anyway, on this sunny Wednesday morning, I was using his notebook to find an agreeable photograph of myself. The problem was, I couldn't locate the file in which he stored the pictures I sent. I couldn't very well call him out of a meeting on such a frivolous errand, could I? So I used the Search button. And there, among snapshots of our children and construction equipment, were several that I didn't count on.

There was one that had a topless Maggie Q frolicking on the beach. Several pages from what seems to be a Pirelli's calendar. And Rachel Stevens in undergarments.

The first thing that came to my mind was, oh thank God, my husband's not gay.

Then after a while I thought, Rachel Stevens? How plebeian. Every pom and his jug of bitter want Rachel Stevens. Now, I'm trying to think how many times he's watched S Club 7 in Miami with the kids.

Should I get my panties in a knot just because Saiffuddin appreciates the female anatomy? I have one or two straight friends (yes, I do), and I know they'd gawk at a good-looking woman, too, especially one with no clothes on, and it all seems pretty harmless to me. (Dosa tanggung sendiri la) I have a Haji friend who'd bug me to buy him FHM once a year, just for the Sexiest Woman list, but he's a nice guy all the same. Besides, the pictures Saiffuddin kept were sexy, but they weren't lewd. I mean, it'd be far worse if there was fisting or a large dog involved.

And this is hardly a guy thing, let's admit that at least. I'm not entirely blameless. I have a whole file called "Gambar Masjid" in MyPictures, a file filled not with images of mosques but of Freddie Ljunberg in tiny underpants, Hugh Jackman in a short towel, Brad Pitt in nothing at all, Raoul Bova lounging in water, and the entire French rugby team, sans jersey bleu.

The difference, though, is that I tell my husband about my collection of stamps. I'm a little mad that Saifuddin, on the other hand, decided to keep it a secret, and took pains to save the jpegs under a project tender. I tell because my pictures meant nothing. Why did he hide? Did it all mean something? Did he wish I was blonde and small and thin? Oh, I can really work up a temper if I think of all the possibilities.

The secret to a long term relationship, though, is to know the difference between what to worry and what to ignore. We've been together for almost twenty years (it's twenty next year) and I probably gave more trouble than Saiffuddin. So far, he hasn't applied to join PESUCUR*, although I hear the first requirement of membership is to say it doesn't exist, just like Fight Club. On the whole, my husband has been very, very nice to me, and this indiscretion is a small blip on an otherwise excellent marital record.

But I can't help being pissed.

Saiffuddin has a cough and comes out of the conference room looking for expectorant. As casually as I could, I remarked that I'm surprised he likes Rachel Stevens. Just for a brief second he looked like a deer caught in headlights.

"So you found them. Are you mad?"
"Yes", I smiled.
"I'm so sorry, " he tells me. "It's a guy thing. It's because you're not here. They remind me of you"

That last bit was obviously a lie, but could be instructional to husbands caught in a jam, because it almost works.

The most important thing is, he conceded guilt. Lovely, lovely. I'll get to use this as leverage for a few months at least. Already he's being extraordinarily obliging, and today I get to eat lunch at a restaurant and not by the roadside jajan, as is usual. At the moment, he's waiting for me to finish this sentence, so that he can bring me to ITC Ambassador. Ah, I'd probably get those furniture after all, don't you think?

*PESUCUR is the acronym for Persatuan Suami Curang, a loose grouping of itinerant husbands in Saiffuddin's batch (from itu sekolah, lah). Like Opus Dei, no member will publicly admit his association, for fear that his life, (or other things) would be unceremoniously shortened.


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