She managed to get in from her shopping trip before Frank got home that day and stuck the pan at the back of the cupboard where she knew he would not see it.
It was a crepe pan that she had seen in a sale. Not that she and Frank ever ate crepes, or even pancakes for that matter but there was no reason that they could not start. She could just whip them up on Pancake Day and he would be none the wiser. They had just looked so cute in the store; non-stick and with brightly coloured high gloss finishes on their undersides, hanging on the stand like a tree of giant shiny lollipops.
She checked the calendar. Pancake Day had been and gone for that year. Never mind, there was one every year, and if they ate pancakes on that day for the next twenty years, that would mean the pan cost only $2.50 per batch so was well worth it.
Frank hated splashing out on new things. He preferred to hunt down a bargain. Like that bicycle he had arrived with a few years ago.
‘Look at this!’ he had declared as he wobbled up the driveway, ‘only twenty bucks! The woman down the street wanted twenty five, but I negotiated.’
‘But you don’t cycle, Frank,’ she had protested.
‘That is because I never had a bike before,’ he retorted. ‘It will do me good – I just need to fix up the back gears and it will be as good as new.’
‘What is wrong with the gears?’ she asked
‘Oh, they don’t really work. They are kind of stuck in the low range, but I am sure I can fix them.’
‘Is that grease on your trousers, Frank?’
But Frank was already wheeling his latest project into the garage, and there the bike had stayed for the next two years, untouched, until finally she got sick of the sight of it leaning against the wall. She waited until he was away on a business trip and then wheeled it down the road and leant it against a skip which was outside someone’s house.
Within an hour the bike was gone, no doubt being cycled in to some other lucky wife by her bargain-hunting husband.
The latest thing had been that armchair. Frank had gone out to get the paper one Sunday. He appeared half an hour later carrying an old armchair towards the house.
‘Oh, Frank – no!’ she had exclaimed.
‘What? What is wrong with you?’ he gasped, as he struggled through the front door into the house, ‘I can not believe I found this just out on the roadside.’
‘Me neither,’ she replied. ‘Where are you taking it? Frank? It is filthy!’
‘I’m gonna put it in the living room, of course’ he replied. ‘This is almost an antique. My dad had one just like it.’
He placed it in a corner of the living room. It sat there with its green and beige striped cushions and its stained wooden arms like a refugee from the fifties.
‘You should get him a shed,’ her friend Pauline had advised, ‘I got my George one and he loves it. Always tinkering about in there. It gives him a space to do his projects.’
But when she had mentioned it to Frank later that night, he had flatly refused.
‘What do I want with a shed?’ He had asked, ‘Besides, we both work. If I came home and then just disappeared off to a shed, you would never see me!’
She was looking at the armchair when she heard Frank at the door. Over the past few weeks it had started to accumulate stuff: newspapers, Frank’s hat. She was going to have to get rid of it. She handed him a beer.
‘I was thinking, Frank,’ she said, ‘maybe we should get you one of those lazy boy chairs for Xmas. I hear they are very comfortable. They have a foot rest that lifts up to support your legs when you sit in it.’
‘Where did you hear that from?’ asked Frank. ‘Don’t tell me – Pauline again! That woman… Anyway I don’t need an armchair, I’ve got one.’
He sat down on the sofa.
‘The thing is that your friend Pauline does not appreciate, is that they don’t make things like they used to these days. That armchair,’- at this he gestured towards it – ‘was made by a craftsman, in a time when people appreciated the value of working with their hands. That chair is a work of art.’
He looked around on the sofa.
‘Hey Honey, where is the TV remote?’
‘It is on the coffee table, Frank,’ she said.
‘Ah yes, there it is.’ He picked it up and flicked on the screen, ‘So, what’s for dinner?’
‘Pancakes,’ she replied.