The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

Writers' Showcase

Map Reading For Couples
by Simon Hodgson

My wife Fitzsimmons has incredible geographical instincts. We could be walking around the minotaur’s labyrinth with snargling noises yards behind us and she’d still say, “I think it’s round this corner then on the left.” And we’d escape through the door just as the beast came whiffling and hurring around the bend.

Put the girl in a car though, and she couldn’t find her way out of a parking space. We drove up to Mendocino last month. Out of the city, across the Golden Gate, up highway 101. I’d planned to stop off in Rohnert Park.

“How long before we get there,” I ask Fitzsimmons.

“How should I know,” she says, the road atlas draped carelessly across her lap.

“Well, you could look at the map and see what the next junction is.”

“Alright,” she says, “it’s ten minutes.”

“You’ve just made that up.”

“No I haven’t,” she says, closing both the atlas and the conversation.

Fitzsimmons believes that the passenger’s job is to look pretty, look out of the window and occasionally change CD. I try imagining the two of us on the Paris-Dakar Rally, with her waving at Bedouin warriors as they aim rocket-launchers at us.

Or Fitzsimmons as navigator to Magellan. As the eminent Portuguese captain approaches the straits which will make him famous, a critical moment in a voyage which has already taken several weeks and claimed three lives. He turns to his trusted navigator, who is stretched in a hammock observing a low-flying albatross. “Where are we, Doņa Fitzsimmons?” asks Magellan. “How should I know?” says the navigator as she reaches languidly for her second rum punch.

Five miles nearer Rohnert Park, I tried again and explained that it might be useful to know the distance, so we could work out whether the petrol would last.

“Okay,” says Fitzsimmons, opening the roadmap with a little look across to me. “Uh, where are we again?”

“Rohnert Park.”

“Right. And what was the last junction?”

Once we’ve established that we’re travelling north and that we’re married, Fitzsimmons finds the right page.

“Okay, so you’ve got about this much to go,” she says, holding her thumb and finger an inch apart.

I take my eyes off Highway 101 for long enough to both raise and lower my eyebrows at her.

“Use the scale.”

“The what?”

“The scale, find out what the map scale is.”

“There isn’t one,” she says shortly.

“In the bottom left corner.”

“Oh, that. I don’t do it like that.”

‘I don’t do it like that,’ I say in my head. Only, I’m so appalled by the remark that it comes out aloud. Fitzsimmons gives me a look as if to say What? Then follows it by saying,

“It doesn’t matter. We’ll get there in the end.”

Get where? Mendocino or mental breakdown, it’s all the same to the mini Magellan beside me, who’s now looking out of the window again.