Tom and Jane were rearranging the bedroom furniture for the fifth time since Jane’s big move into the house that Tom owned.
In order to determine whether or not the chest of draws would fit under the window sill, Tom decided to go get the tape measure.
“Should I get the tape measure?” he asked.
Jane did not reply. Whilst clearing her make-up from the top of the chest of drawers, she had found in amongst her products a can of shoe-protector spray. He watched her shake it, hold it to her ear and then drop it in the bin.
Tom didn’t mind that she didn’t reply. And he didn’t mind that she had just chucked away his £4.99 spray. Because Tom was already halfway out the door. And with that movement came a deft self-assurance, a decisiveness and a sense of purpose. A certain kind of poise. Here was a man who knew his own mind. And as he moseyed from the bedroom to the cupboard in the lounge, the thought chinked in his head like the spur on the back of a cowboy boot: I am American!
Here he was, with his own piece of land, independently rearranging his possessions to make way for those of his sweetheart. All things were within his grasp and the dream was true: patience and hard work mean that anything at all is possible.
“It looks like it’ll probably fit,” she said from the bedroom.
“I said it’ll probably fit.”
This might have left some men stranded in the no man’s land of indecision. But not Tom, Tom had American momentum to see him through to his goal. How he grabbed the handle of that closet door!
The tool box was reassuring (not that he needed reassurance). It was huge and black and yellow and new and though it contained only a few tools, it was American in its size. It was the kind of tool box a neighbour would borrow and not give back. What further proof was needed? I’ve got a tool box, he thought, I’m a success. And because he was a success he would be exact: of course he should get the tape measure (or should that be measuring tape?)
He opened the box on the table, its cantilever shelves blossomed, offering their empty selves for the filling. A land of plenty.
And then it broke. The top of the tool box, a detachable Tupperware tray, divided into seven different compartments, home to his once-sorted assorted screws, slipped out of its slot. Screws spilled everywhere.
He was so pissed off.
He found the tape measure and went back to the bedroom. This time he didn’t mosey. His chin no longer felt chiselled.
“I’ve got the tape measure,” he said, mostly to himself.
Jane had emptied the contents of his sock drawer onto the bed.
He measured the chest of drawers and saw that, obviously, it was always going to fit.
Jane and Tom moved the chest together. And as they struggled with its weight, he though about telling her: you nearly moved in with an American. He didn’t and when they had finished rearranging, he went back to the lounge to pick up and sort the screws.