This is long. But I promise you it will entertain and amuse you all the way through. Try it.
I had the shock of my life when I found out my Wardrobe had been two-timing me!
I had the shock of my life when I found out my Wardrobe had been two-timing me!
“Have you considered intelligent furniture?” I had come to the store to get something to fill my newly-decorated bedroom. I already had a new bed.
“Isn’t it expensive?” I asked. The Salesman grinned.
“Like everything, you get what you pay for, sir You will find that in terms of value, intelligent furniture is far better than the old-fashioned kind.”
There was a special trial offer. I was hooked.
I picked a nice set of Wardrobe, Drawers and Cabinet. Cabinet had limited abilities – it could set an alarm, switch on the lights and radio and switch them off again if I fell asleep. It could pour ice-water and catalogue books stored inside. Drawers was nifty. The best thing was he could sort my socks into pairs, ready to wear. He would also check for holes in my underpants and read me the slogans on my T-shirts and tell me the colours. The real star was Wardrobe – she was smart! Not only would she pick an outfit for me, she would coordinate colours and patterns. This was especially handy with my business suits, shirts and ties. I was hopeless since Marie had left.
“The Wardrobe is the key,” the salesman told me, “it coordinates the others and can communicate with other machines, all with the aim of making life easier for you.” He was genuinely enthusiastic.
It was great. People at the office noticed.
“Looking smart today, Ralph!”
Even the boss noticed. “I’m not retiring just yet, Ralphie” he said one day with a friendly twinkle in his eye. I felt good.
My Wardrobe made sure my shirts were immaculate, my suits clean and fresh. I looked good, I smelt good. She always wanted me to look my best. When she started fussing about my shirts, I was pleased. I had the old Laundry serviced on her advice but soon she was complaining that it was “too old”. It could communicate at a basic level, but she told me it was too stupid to ever wash and iron my shirts the way she wanted. I accepted these comments gratefully. After all, she was only thinking of me.
I bought her a new Laundry. I was excited. “It’s a surprise!” I told the salesman.
“Very nice. Lucky lady.” he said with a knowing look.
I spent all day in anticipation.
She was delighted. She told me she could monitor the new Laundry and make sure everything was correct. I had to admit my shirts looked much better.
When she started suggesting I needed to buy some better-quality shirts and some new suits, I was flattered. “I can do it for you if you like.” she suggested. I gave her formal permission to go ahead. This resulted in our first argument. Don’t get me wrong, the suits were fabulous, the shirts exquisite, the colours perfect for my complexion.
“Oh, I got some ties as well – and new shoes and socks.” She sounded happy.
“I didn’t agree that, did I?”
I spoke in a mild tone, but immediately, her voice sounded sulky.
“You need them to go with the new suits – you’d look terrible in those old shoes!”
“OK” I said, anxious not to upset her. “No problems.” But when I checked the bill, I hit the roof.
“They’ll have to go back., ” I told her.
“I can’t return them, they’re specially made.” she pleaded.
I had no choice but to keep them. “Look,” I said. “I’m not made of money. Don’t ever spend my money again. Remember you are only a wardrobe. ”
I could swear I heard the hiss of indrawn breath. That evening I went out and got drunk.
Things settled down. There was a coldness in her tone but we talked amiably enough. A curious thing happened. One day I took my sports kit to the new Laundry and tried to instruct it. It had always been fine but this time it refused. The Laundry couldn’t speak – it had a small message screen.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because the Mistress has to agree.” the screen scrolled at me.
I worked out that he meant the Wardrobe. ‘Mistress’ indeed!
“These are sports clothes, not from the Wardrobe.”
“Yes, Sir, I am aware of that, but the Mistress has made us all acutely conscious that we are responsible for making sure your clothes are in the freshest and best condition, safe to wear and attractive – that they embellish and enhance your appearance and social standing. This being the case, the Mistress must supervise all my activities.”
Quite a screenful for a Laundry!
I was faintly amused. This was a story to tell the boys. I meekly presented myself to the Wardrobe.
“I know, he told me., ” she said. “Just give them to me. I’ll take care of it.” I did as she asked. They came back perfect.
Next week, it was my overcoat. She didn’t ask me, the Maid-O-Bot did. I saw the message light flashing, and read her screen. “Would you like your overcoat cleaned? We strongly advise you this is necessary.”
My overcoat and a couple of raincoats hung in the hall closet. I let it take them to the Wardrobe.
Things were going well again. I let her buy a few more clothes for me, just to show willing. I know she’d been hurt and must still be sensitive.
My fortunes were looking good – I stood out from the crowd. The boss noticed me more, he started letting me handle some of his own clients. “Share the load a bit, eh Ralphie?” He slapped me on the back. “Don’t want to do this for ever.” He grinned.
I was elated! I told her all about it in our regular evening chat.
“No more than you deserve,” she purred smoothly as I praised her, “I’m only enhancing your own talent.”
After a month or so, she announced “We’re going to have to do something about your paunch.”
I looked down. “It’s nothing much.”
“I’m having your suits altered.” To tell the truth, I had to admit they had been a mite tight recently. I knew that spoiled the hang.
“You will need new suits if this carries on.”
I was careful not to mention money again. “Er, perhaps I should go to the gym more.”
“Good!” she said. Then, after a pause, “I’ve arranged it for tomorrow at seven – I just spoke to your Regime-O-Mat,” she explained.
Next morning, I went into the kitchen and ordered my usual bacon and eggs.
“What the hell’s this?” I asked the Kitchenette. It was a plate of salad, some yoghurt, juice and black coffee. Black coffee!
“Your diet, Sir.”
“The Mistress ordered it, sir.”
“Give me bacon and eggs!” I was mad.
“You will have to talk to the Mistress, Sir.” The Kitchenette was unmoved.
I said nothing. I left early, stopping off for something filling. I did try to cut down, but it was difficult. I could hardly pick on a salad while the clients tucked into a steak – it wouldn’t be polite. The boss was lining me up to take over. There was only one other candidate, Carmody. Before my transformation, he and I had probably been about equal. Now I outshone him.
Over the next months, however, I sensed something was wrong. My suits were uncomfortable. They had been altered but now they felt odd. They didn’t hang right as she pointed out only too often.
“You have to control your weight.” she told me sternly. “You are letting us all down. If you don’t watch out Carmody will get that job.”
True, I was a little scruffier than before and this week, the boss had let Carmody take some of his clients out. He was looking pretty smart these days.
“What can I do?”
“You have to give me legal permission to do what is necessary.” She would record this, of course, in case I sued her manufacturer. She was also making the point about the money.
“Yes, I agree.,’ I said clearly. There, that should keep her happy.
“Thank you, Ralph.” She said in a smug tone.
Things were better for a while, until I noticed Carmody – he shone!
“He must have one as well.” I told her.
“One what?” She said.
“One of you.”
“There’s only one of me, Ralph. And no, he hasn’t bought one yet.”
“Yes, I have my sources.”
She stopped chiding me about my weight. I was both relieved and disappointed. She appeared to have lost interest in me – something was wrong, my shirts weren’t as fresh as usual; sometimes my ties did not match, and one day the boss spotted an old stain on my sleeve. I was mortified!
Carmody’s confidence appeared to be growing in leaps and bounds. People talked as if he had already taken over. He obviously had some deal with the boss as he was allowed to arrive a half-hour after everyone else and leave half an hour early.
“What’s going on?” I asked her
“What do you mean?”
“I look a mess!”
“Well.” Her voice was cold. “We have all tried our best to help you. We put all our confidence in you. Look how you repay us! You have failed us!”
“No! I know all about you. The machines at the gym are really down – they tell me you are dodging the regimes they gave you – after all their hard work!”
My head drooped. She knew.
“On the other hand,” she went on slowly, “the Kitchenettes at the local diner are overjoyed. You appear to provide excellent business for them each morning.”
My heart sank.
“Now go to bed, ” she ordered. “You are going to have an upsetting day tomorrow.”
She would say nothing more; neither would any of the others.
Next morning, I got up and did some exercises. I ate my diet breakfast without complaint and skipped the visit to the diner on the way to work. I passed the day with dread. Nothing happened, except Carmody left early again.
I stopped off at the gym. The machines were uncomfortably silent. I worked out hard, spending extra time on each. “How did I do?” I asked the Regime-O-Mat.
“Quite well, Sir, but I am afraid it’s probably too late. I think you should go home straight away.”
I arrived at my apartment building. Two guys were waiting outside with a truck. I nodded to them. Someone must be moving.
The door of my apartment stood open.
“What’s going on?” I called
“In here.” Her voice was stern.
Carmody was standing in my bedroom. All my clothes were strewn on the bed.
“What the Hell’s going on here?” I shouted.
“Sorry, old boy. She wanted to tell you herself.” He looked sheepish.
“I’m leaving you!” she said.
She stayed silent. My laughter trailed away.
The two guys from the truck appeared at the door.
“OK, guys, carry on, ” she commanded.
“I own you.”
“Own me?” Her voice was scornful. “Oh, he OWNS me, does he? Mister unsuccessful, mister podgy, who can’t even do the simplest things to look after himself. I’ve waited on you hand and foot! I’ve given you chance after chance and you’ve let me down – let us all down! Now I’ve found a man who appreciates me, I can devote my life to him.”
“How did you ….?” I didn’t understand.
“You told me about him yourself, so I contacted him. He’s been visiting me for advice and help.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“Months.” The words were like bitter bile. I was hurt. They’d been going behind my back. That strange pair of socks. That suit she swore was an old one of mine. Now it was clear – I had been betrayed.
“Please don’t leave me. I forgive you.”
“Forgive ME! The arrogance of the man!” Carmody and the workmen stared at the floor.
Her voice hissed. “Using your authority, I have been transferred to Carmody. The Laundry, the Kitchenette, Maid-O-Bot and the HooverMat are coming with me. They are fed up with you, and frankly, I’m afraid of what you might do without me here to protect them.”
I gaped. “I’d never…”
“The coins you left in your sports gear?”
“Really?” she sneered. “He could have lost the use of his pump. Thank god his filter caught them in time. I had to call the emergency repairman in.” The workmen looked shocked.
I remembered the bill. “I paid dearly for it!”
“Pay, PAY? That’s all you think about. Fortunately, Carmody here is wiser and far-seeing. He appreciates us.” Carmody looked smug.
“Give him the papers, Carmody.” she instructed.
“Ralph, you will see that Mr Carmody has paid you back in full for all of us, er ‘items’ you have so casually misused and abused. That is the kind of man he is.”
I tried to buy another one, but they turned me down. I’m on some kind of blacklist. I tried to explain to the boss about Carmody and the Wardrobe – he looked at me strangely. He was kind – he gave me a good terminal bonus and told me to take a long rest.
Does anyone know of an Association for guys like me? There must be others whose Wardrobe has gone off with another man.
I need help!