Sunday Lifestyle

Behind every successful man is an exhausted wife

THINKING ALOUD - Mary Ann Quioc Tayag - The Philippine Star

I blame your wife for it,” she said smiling before we could even enter her clinic at St. Luke’s in BGC. My husband Claude Tayag’s thorough and pleasant lady doctor was referring to his three-pound weight gain from his last visit on March 4. She probably thought I cook for Claude.  

Then after Claude narrated where he had been the past entire month and what he had been eating, she said, “Oh that’s not so bad then” and looked at me. I told her Claude woke up that day with a gout attack, which he has not had for over 25 years. Then again Claude had to narrate to her what he ate and drank the day before. He just didn’t mention the dishes, he described the seasonings and ingredients as if he was writing his food column and specifically mentioned the flavor of the beer. 

The lady doctor looked and winked at me. At the end, she concluded, “Your health condition is because of your lifestyle.” I said to myself, “Aren’t all health matters due to lifestyle?” She checked his blood pressure and was very impressed it was excellent despite Claude’s weight gain and his not using his cipap machine (for apnea) for an entire month. “All your blood test results are good, surprisingly,” she said, “You are very okay.” “

Now, shouldn’t the wife get the credit?

“But please do not abuse it,” she added. She dismissed Claude with a see-me-next-year note. We left her clinic chirpy.

From the clinic, Claude bumped into two of his friends who obviously had not been well. They and the doctor made us seriously think about our lifestyle. Claude and I both love good food and travel. We both do not gamble and bar hopping is not our idea of a nightlife. My wise grandmother often said everyone must have a vice. And she said the best vice of all is food. No one goes pauper because of food. No matter how much you like a food, you will stop when you are full and you will surely tire of it, she said. And I believed her even more when once Claude and I drove 90 kilometers for an eat-all-you-can durian for P200. We both love durian especially when ripe yet still firm. The first one was sweet and easy. The second was good with some difficulty. The third one, I wanted to puke. The same greed experience we had when we chanced upon an eat-all-you-can foie gras at Singapore’s Raffles Hotel. I could not go past the second serving. 

Most of our money goes to food and very little is spent in beauty salons and almost nothing on fashion brands and jewellery. Nil goes to bars and the only love affair we care about is ours. In that compatibility department, I can say our marriage was indeed made in heaven. We may disagree on what is delicious but surely we both love food! Claude’s favorite Chinese food is duck and mine will always be Chinese pigeon. For someone whose fashion sense is very basic, he once bought a pricey messenger bag because the brand name has the word “duck.” That is how crazy he is about duck. He, of course, will deny it. 

But since last year, Chinese duck has not been available in our country because of the bird flu.   So for his Father’s Day gift, I got really cheap tickets and flew him to Hong Kong just for a day. (11 hours to be exact as Hong Kong hotels are too expensive.) Our son Nico inserted US$100 in his greeting note to feast on roast duck. He was literally salivating and shaking as we checked in for the 8 a.m. flight. We planned our duck foray so well that there was no time allowed to have dessert.   Our nice and meaty first roast duck meal with wanton soup was courtesy of my good friend Josie Wenko. Two hours later, we were on our own in another eatery and devouring a one-fourth roast duck breast, sipping and biting siao long bao and a nice double-boiled chicken soup with ham bones. Knowing he still had money from the $100 and very limited time, he then stormed out and bought two whole roast ducks to bring home. Dinner was crisp glazed pigeon, courtesy of another friend, Long Franchina. We were so lucky to have generous friends. Claude ordered roast goose this time, “a cousin of duck,” he says. We were surely burping as we checked in for our 9 p.m. flight for home. Still, Josie insisted on having warm Chinese dessert before boarding. It was a Father’s Day treat I am sure he will not forget. He probably felt guilty that he has never ever given me a Mother’s Day gift. His excuse is that I am not his mother. (That’s what men call wisdom). When we came home he made me a nice china cabinet for a very late Mother’s Day gift. (That’s what men call redemption).

The following day, he chomped more roast duck at home for dinner. He woke up limping with his first gout attack in 25 years. Now, is that really the wife’s fault? How come I have never heard someone blame a husband for a woman’s poor health, unless of course the man was a wife beater? I remember a couple who was at our Bale Dutung for lechon.  The hubby who has had a bypass stood up and sat so far from the wife so he could eat all that pork in peace. The wife did not look happy. Another couple sat together but the entire time the wife was with a long face because hubby refused to be stopped and they ended up arguing. Both couples are older than us and both scenes did not look good to me. But how come I have never encountered a husband stopping a wife from overindulgence? 

Maybe the gout is a sign that we will soon be like them. Maybe that is what Claude’s doctor meant. Ten years ago, Claude finished an entire US duck in a hotel barbecue buffet; the following morning, he sprung out of bed like a happy kid. (But the following week, the hotel wisely removed the duck from the weekend buffet.) Maybe it means we have to slow down as we will be senior citizens soon. And I realized that in the past two years we spent more time in doctors’ clinics than in spas (another vice). In fact, three years ago, I had to cancel our couple’s room booking because our doctor scheduled us for colonoscopy and endoscopy on the same day. As we were undressing and preparing for the procedure, I whispered to Claude, “let us just imagine we are in a spa.” After all, we were together, we would be almost naked and we would be both put to sleep and wake up in the same room. We left the hospital happy and even high. 

It’s all in the mind. 

Last year, the same lady doctor confined Claude the day we were to leave for the US. Our suitcases were packed and our stomachs were already anticipating juicy steaks. Claude was very frustrated, fortunately at St. Luke’s in BGC, they have Via Mare and Bizu to appease him. I packed his favourite nuts, smuggled a tiny tiny bottle of French red wine and brought two DVD movies. “Let’s imagine we are in business class,” I said. I put the room air conditioner to high, switched off the lights and positioned the patient’s table like an airplane’s table. We put on our travel pullovers and I climbed onto his hospital bed. We watched a Meryl Streep movie together with wine and nuts. For two hours, I sincerely believe Claude forgot he was in a hospital room.

This week, we decided to modify our lifestyle. We have agreed to have two days a week eating senior-friendly food. Believe it or not, this is easier for Claude than for me. The rest of the week we can go really bad. We have also agreed to enjoy life and seize the moments while we can. We will live more for today and less for tomorrow. As a wise lady lawyer who knows how to travel in style said, “If you don’t travel first class, your in-laws will.” Amusing but true. I asked her when she started practicing that. She said in her mid-50s. Maybe in her career she has seen many such scenarios. A senior couple with a first-class, adventurous lifestyle that I can only wish for is that of Tong and Linda Manuel Mañalac. Fifty years married and they both look good and I tease Linda the cities they go to are not even on the world map.  

Maybe Claude is a happy man and that is why his lab test results are surprisingly good. I give his wife credit for that.

How come they say if you want to know how good a man is, look at the wife. It’s like saying, men are meant to succeed and women are only meant to be supportive and look good. These must have all been said by men. But one confidently said by a woman, a former beauty queen at that is wiser and better, “Every successful man is a woman’s behind.” Translate that in Tagalog. I am sure she didn’t mean to be funny but I salute her for that. But I say, “Behind every successful man is an exhausted wife.”

* * *

PS: Read Pinoy. Anvil Publishing’s book sale is on its last day today at 107 West Drive, Bgy Kapitolyo, Pasig City 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Over 600 titles are offered at 25 percent to 80 percent off. Example is Claude’s Food Tour Book at P79 for newsprint and P240 for hardbound. Call 477-4752 local 801 or 02. It’s more fun reading Pinoy Books.

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