I am not getting to the gym enough (but who needs it with the intense workout of daily stone clearing? - actually that seems to be at least preventing me from putting on weight even though I am eating quite unhealthily again) but we made it down for a brief stint this morning. I sat on the exercise bike and rode fairly leisurely for 20 minutes, which is (slightly) better than nothing.
There were two men next to me on exercise bikes, chatting away, although it was hard to determine how well they knew each other. They were talking amicably, but didn’t seem to know too much about each other, so I guessed they were on nodding acquaintance from the gym and had found themselves alongside the other and decided to talk (though they were on the middle two bikes of four, so perhaps it was a deliberate decision - as with urinal etiquette, any sensible man would have left the gap of at least one bike/urinal if there wasn’t a deliberate decision to chat/hold each other’s willies).
They were middle-aged guys who you’d hope would be beyond macho crap by now, but their conversation was punctuated with attempts to outdo each other, especially by the slightly younger, more obnoxious guy. So they complained about their wives and their jobs, whilst casually showing off about how much they earned.
The more obnoxious one was at least unhappy in his life. He worked in a job where, amongst other things, he serviced and sold drinks machines, but in a rare moment of honesty and weakness admitted that he’d had enough of it and though this was a busy time for him he was doing the bare minimum and somewhat reluctantly. His wife was in constant demand for whatever job she did. And I assumed she regretted being trapped in a marriage with this braggart, but maybe he kept up a mask of charm when he wasn’t on an exercise bike talking to a relative stranger.
All his drink machine success hadn’t brought him happiness though, even though it sounded like he made quite good money by having a service contract where he was paid for nothing if the machines didn’t break. He’d been on holiday to Europe and complained about his wife buying some expensive boots that she never wore. He claimed he’d paid for them, but the rest of his conversation suggested he was lazily getting by whilst his wife was working hard, so if I’d been in the chat (and there was a few points that I thought about joining in) I’d have questioned who had actually bought the boots and the holiday in what was a double income partnership. The other guy said that a woman could easily spend £1500 on a handbag, which he didn’t understand. This was the difference and problem between men and women, they decided - women want to invest in one thing whilst men want to keep trying different things. I don’t think they were just talking about handbags. Were they right though, even broadly? Different people want different things. I don’t really buy into massive distinction between the sexes. These guys were attempting to confirm to what it was to be a man, but it was a pretence that scarcely masked their unhappiness.
The older guy said if he was going to buy a handbag that he’d rather spend £100 and have a bag with £1500 in it. Sounded like he really wanted a handbag to me and resented the fact that society would frown upon him. Again I nearly interjected to say that I think he meant at handbag with £1400 in it, otherwise it’s an obvious choice. You could take the £100 handbag and buy the £1500 handbag and then sell the £100 handbag and have some free money.
But the ennui-filled drinks machine guy thought it was time to up the ante. When the other guy had suggested that a woman might pay £1500 for a handbag, he had said, “And the rest!” and then gone on to say that £1500 was the least you’d pay for a quality handbag and that a good handbag would cost £15,000. And far from wanting a £100 bag with £14,900 in it, he thought you should spend that much money. Guy 2 was sceptical, as by now, he’d nailed his colours to the £100 mask and he was rightly thinking (I am guessing) that £15,000 was a big proportion of his annual salary and it was crazy to spend that much on a bag. But drink machine skiver was going all in. He said if you had money you should spend it. And the other guy had to agree now. And that if you were earning £50,000 a week then why not spend £15,000 on a handbag? In fact you should. The implication seemed to be that he was on on an annual income of 2.6 million pounds and that’s why he didn’t mind buying his wife expensive handbags. But I doubted that he could make that much from avoiding servicing drinks machines, whilst attempting and failing to be unfaithful to his wife (just extrapolating there). Maybe I am underestimating the rewards from fixing coffee machines in hotels, but if he got that much I think he’d feel less annoyed about travelling into London.
So can we assume his wife is earning at least 2.5 million of that money? In which case, yes, she can spend £15,000 on a handbag every now and again. Or should we assume that the man just wanted to belittle his friend for thinking £1500 was a lot to pay for a handbag.
Anyway, what a horrible poison-filled conversation it was, seemingly designed for one guy to show the other that he was a bigger cunt than him.
My wife was on a running machine nearby, so I couldn’t join in and tell them that she liked to spend £500,000 a week on tiaras, but if you’re earning £10 mil a week, then I guess you can let the little woman have her trinkets. Because Catie would have heard and pointed out she probably only spends about £50,000 a week on tiaras. So I sat silently, pretending I didn’t resent my wife for stuff that I had just completely made up.