Proverbial Wisdom

I remember when Beth started work in our department. I was smitten from the first, but I thought I had no chance. I confided in my grandparents; I’ve taken my problems to them since I was small.

Gran looked me up and down. She peered over her spectacles and told me I could smarten myself up a bit. She had thought my last girlfriend a bit of a scruff and I suppose my standards had slipped.

According to Gran, first impressions count.

But Gramps said, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

’S funny he should mention books, ’cos Beth and I had been comparing books we read in the lunch break. I like sci-fi; Beth’s into detective novels. We have different tastes in music too.

Gran said that was fine, because opposites attract.

But Gramps reckoned it was birds of a feather that flocked together. “Just look at me and your gran, here.”

I wasn’t sure that proved his point, but Gran winked at me, so I kept quiet.

Rob in Personnel asked Beth out. She turned him down, making a joke about him being a fast worker. That put me off asking her out yet.

Gramps said, “The early bird catches the worm.”

But Gran told me, “Good things come to those who wait.”

So I waited…

In the end, Beth asked me out!

I knew she was The One after a couple of months. I wanted her to move into my flat but was afraid to suggest it. Gran agreed. She thought if Beth said no, I wouldn’t dare ask again. Gran knows me well.

She said we should get to know each other better. “Look before you leap.”

But Gramps warned me, “He who hesitates is lost.”

After a couple more months, I made up my own mind and proposed instead. Beth’s mum and sister were soon embroiled in wedding preparations.

Mum and Gran wanted to help, arguing that many hands made light work.

“And too many cooks spoil the brew,” came a growl from behind Gramps’ newspaper.

Although Mum-in-Law had hysterics when Beth wanted to invite her dad, it all turned out well on the day and nobody was hospitalised.

At the reception, Beth’s uncle offered me a job. He’d started up a new company and couldn’t afford to pay much, but I’d get shares in the business. I had reservations though. I already had a good job with prospects, and a new wife and mortgage to support.

Gramps was keen, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Gran said we were better safe than sorry. Beth went on for ages about the great opportunity I’d turned down. Even after her uncle went bust a year later.

That was the beginning of our troubles. Gramps thought I was imagining things when I worried that Beth didn’t look at me the way she used to.

He said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But Gran tutted and shook her head. “A stitch in time saves nine,” she said and suggested I take Beth out and buy her flowers.

When Beth belittled all my attempts at bridge-building. I tried to stay positive.

Gran had often told me, “Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.”

But, according to Gramps, “Misery loves company.” So, although I knew it would worry them, I told them I was afraid Beth was having an affair.

Gramps reckoned knowledge was power. He said I should follow Beth when she said she was going out with her friends.

Gran looked over her specs at him as he went to put the kettle on. She put down her knitting and tapped her nose. “Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.”

Her knitting needles resumed their clacking. Not for the first time, I wondered about Gran. I mentioned that work had offered a two-month secondment up North, helping set up a new branch.

Gran said, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and thought I should take it.

But Gramps warned “Out of sight out of mind,” as he came back with our mugs of tea.

The secondment would mean a bonus though. We were always short of money; the mortgage gobbled up most of our salaries. Gran thought less money worries might give our marriage the boost it needed.

“Money makes the word go around.” She nodded at me.

“Root of all evil. We managed without, didn’t we?” Grandad grunted. “The more money you earn, lad, the more she’ll find things to spend it on.”

Gran gave him a Look.

My old girlfriend got in touch – the scruffy one. We met up in the pub – just to catch up, you understand. I still loved Beth, but a boost to my disappearing self-esteem wouldn’t go amiss. Still, I thought I ought to tell Beth I’d be meeting her.

Gramps said, “What the eye don’t see, the heart don’t grieve over.”

Gran stuck to her guns of honesty being the best policy.

I made the mistake of listening to Gramps on this one. Beth found out anyway and flounced off back to her mum. How could I apologise for not telling her and assure her that nothing untoward had happened? Should I phone? She’d probably hang up on me.

I could turn up on her mum’s doorstep with flowers, except she might slam the door in my face. No, she’d more likely shout at me – her mum certainly would – and three of us would end up going at each other.

Or I could write a letter.

Gran thought that was the best plan. She said the pen was mightier than the sword.

Gramps reckoned actions speak louder than words and I should turn up with the flowers.

But a letter did the trick. We got back together and swore that we’d stay together forever, just like Gramps and Gran. We agreed that although the grass might look greener on the other side of the fence, home is where the heart is.

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