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The Marble Bench Top That Taught Me How To Have Nice Things

Marriage is forever. So are marble stains.

10/06/2017 6:40 AM AEST | Updated 10/06/2017 6:40 AM AEST
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Clean up that spoon or I swear I'll never spoon you again.

Wedding vows aren't the usual time for a domestic scolding, so it took me by surprise in the repeat-after-me bit when the celebrant said "I, Cayla, promise to put away my teacup when I'm done with it".

Everyone laughed. My husband literally made it a condition of our marriage that I not be such a grub. It sounds drastic, but former housemates and dormies will attest to the fact I've always been tidy challenged... until now.

Previously, I wasn't bothered by mess because I didn't actually see it.

It wasn't until seven years later that something in me changed... precipitated by a slab of marble and no, I wasn't bonked on the head with it. While renovating our kitchen, we fell in love.

Once at uni, as part of a rolling series of pranks*, a buddy trashed my room. She flipped my chair upside down, scattered rocks in the bed and threw my clothes about, then waited for me to return home, barely able to contain her laughter.

Turns out my tolerance for mess was so high that I didn't even notice. She sauntered in with a cheeky grin only to find me casually brushing some rocks aside to sit down. She had to tell me what she'd done, which is not the comedy formula exploited by Ashton Kutcher in Punk'd.

So in the heady days after marriage, I tried on the role of 'wife'. I put things away when I was done with them and tried to stick with one teacup a day instead of my usual smattering of empties all about the apartment.

It didn't last. I broke the teacup vow of marriage within about a month, but he still stuck by my side.

It wasn't until seven years later that something in me changed... precipitated by a slab of marble and, no, I wasn't banged on the head with it.

While renovating our kitchen, we fell in love. We didn't mean to. Call it the seven year itch, because we went out to buy a sensible non-staining bench top and were seduced by the sleek, cool surface of real marble.

There was one particularly handsome New York slab with creamy white stone slashed by dramatic veins of navy, gunmetal and black. We both agreed, it was love, and a sense of dread washed over me. You see, marble stains. It etches. It is seriously not a practical surface to cook on.

Had we lost our marbles?

I foresaw a time, a coupe of weeks hence, when I would unceremoniously deliver the first stain to the bench top. Would he forgive me? Would a streak of tomato puree forever remind him why the woman he married was, in fact, a grub?

We left the showroom without the marble, and I embarked on a soul-searching journey. I thought of the Collette Dinnigan silk dress that I ruined by leaving on the floor for a month. The cashmere throw that forever has an oily curry stain on the edge. The scotch decanter that cracked. Why can't I have nice things?

Something changed. In the rubble of our half-renovated kitchen, I vowed that I would get the marble, and I'd look after it, to have and to hold. There was no celebrant and no witnessed this time, but the vow has stuck. Each night, I run a cloth over the smooth, cool surface and whisper to it 'I love you'.

The only problem is that scrappy husband of mine, who leaves his toast plate on the bench each morning. I clean it up, like he cleaned my teacups for a decade. After all, it's a small price to pay to have the man, and the marble, that I love.

*To put her prank in context, the day before, I'd stuck her underpants to the windows of her car and drove it onto the Village Green. It all came to a head years later when three friends accosted our house pretending to be axe murderers. Naturally, we armed ourselves with knives. The police were called. Someone was nearly knifed. We realised we'd probably let this go too far.


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