Across The Counter
How one jeweler’s wife copes with the “other woman”
Reprinted from September 1990
Every woman who has ever said, “I do”, has had thoughts about the “other woman”. This malady is common to jewelers’ wives also. Hubby is generally “nobody” until he has his name in lights over a jewelry store.
Then, even if he is balding, fat, wrinkled, knock-kneed, homely or whatever, he will suddenly become an overnight attraction to female customers and female employees.
This fact hit me one day as I was polishing my broken fingernails, making plans to pick up the kids after school, get them to the dentist and home and have supper on the table by 6:30.
A lady customer at the counter cooed to RB, “Oh, Mr. Williams, your wife is so lucky! She is able to have any jewelry she wants!
“All she has to do is just reach in the showcase and help herself! Oh! I’d love to be married to you.”
I gave it a quick consideration and thought, “There are plenty of days I wish you were married to him too.”
I wonder how long she would last at case polishing, part finding, book balancing, ordering and a million other unsophisticated chores and duties assumed by the average jeweler’s wife.
As a matter of fact, I wonder how she’d adjust to being roused at three in the morning by the security patrol who called to tell Mr. Jeweler his alarm was going off and he had a brick through his front window?
Doctors are frequently the victim of glamour as seen through the eyes of dejected housewives, divorcees and female patients. Frankly, I think jewelers fall only a notch or two below physicians and perhaps attorneys.
The physician hears all about the marital problems and prescribes tranquilizers. Finally the attorney hears all about the terrible situation and goes through tears and all. But the one who finally falls victim of the divorcee is the jeweler to whom she goes to have her rings remounted.
I’ve heard the same story a thousand times, told through teary eyes and sobs. “He was no good!” What she isn’t saying is that she has accepted the fact that the hubby was no good.
Perhaps the replacement has fled by then and she is well into the market for another husband, consciously or not. All the time she is making a selection for her mounting, she is sizing up the jeweler – his potential, his earning power, his attractiveness and his availability. She need not verbalize this. It’ suggested by body movements and the lost look in her eyes.
After the ring is mounted up and delivered, she will make endless trips back to the jeweler to have prongs adjusted, rough places removed, etc.
As any jeweler’s wife can readily tell you, she will not be easily discouraged in her endeavors either! It doesn’t matter whether Mr. Jeweler is totally oblivious to her advances or whether he gives her conscious encouragement, she will persist a long time. But alas! Having heard all her problems and comforted her during her time of stress, when she gets ready to marry again, she will most likely say “thank you,” by purchasing her diamond someplace else.
If you are a jeweler’s wife, you learned long ago to “share him” with other women, to some extent anyway. Never mind that you are the one who gets it all together for him; socks that match, suits that fit and look stylish, shirts that are nicely laundered and ironed.
It will be the hubby who takes the bows at the local ladies auxiliary luncheon and the hubby who will be doted on and made over afterwards while he makes charming remarks to the ladies.
And they will say, “Oh, Mr. Jeweler is sooo sweet. His wife is sooo lucky. And he is sooo smart. Why, he knows everything. Such a charming fellow.” They should be around when he loses a click spring under power. His charms are greatly diminished.
Besides the predatory divorcee and bored housewife, there is the disenchanted female employee. She is not disenchanted with Mr. Jeweler. She is disenchanted with her own miserable selection of husbands – because of whom she had to get out and go to work in the first place. She sees Mr. Jeweler as an idol; dressed to perfection, attractive, clean shaven and well mannered.
She sees him as a “father figure.” Someone to soothe her ruffled feathers when she comes to work in a bad mood. In short, someone who could easily and quickly replace the idiot she married.
In the line of duty RB has smooched girls under the mistletoe and danced with them at office parties. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen him to be anything but fatherly, kind and totally in control of the situation.
However, it has come to pass that more than one female employee has decided that his attraction for her was in some way “different” from the others. That she was “special.” That he felt for her what she was starting to feel for him. It is not clear how they arrive at this decision but it has happened to RB from time to time. When the intentions are clearly obvious, RB is the first to panic.
More than once I’ve heard the plaintive plea, “Martha, do you know what?” And this is followed by, ”What am I going to do?”
One such problem reared its ugly head about six months ago. In a gesture of anger, I reprimanded an employee for saying something at the counter, terribly unkind about a competitor. The employee walked off the job and we thought that was that. No so!
It seems that she has been observing RB’s unspoken signals and decided that he would defend her against my unreasonable outburst. She had evidently read into RB’s praising of her sales record and other things that she was indeed very special.
That evening I departed about an hour before RB. When he left the store it was quite dark. I wouldn’t say RB is a speeder, but he does sit pretty hard on the gas pedal. When he was half way home, our former employee caught up with him and tooted her horn for him to pull over. In common form he didn’t recognize her.
She kept tapping on the window and repeating her name. RB kept saying “Who?” Finally, it dawned on him who she was. After all, it had been more than 8 hours since he’d thought about her at all. He opened the door on the rider’s side and she slid in.
“Would you believe I was just on my way home from the grocery store and I saw you driving down the street? (I would say for the record I’ve never been able to spot any car ‘just driving down the street’, especially after dark, especially RB, even when I know his route).
She pulled a cigarette from her purse and RB gallantly whipped out his lighter to light it for her. Snap. Snap. Nothing happened!
Then he attempted to adjust the flame. Still nothing. Then he dropped the lighter. It vanished into the folds of the upholstery.
He then fumbled for his penlight. She took hold of his hand but he had to have it for more important things – finding the lighter, turning on the pen.
He squirmed around the car seat in a vain search for the missing lighter and she kept saying, “Please, let’s talk.”
But as usual he didn’t hear. He was totally preoccupied with the search.
Finally she managed to get out the fact that she had quit because of me, not him and that she adored him.
He went on searching and squirming while she sat there with her unlit cigarette.
After a few minutes of this, RB looked at his watch.
“My gosh!” He said. “Martha will kill me. I’ll be late for dinner.”
With this and no further encouragement, she climbed right out of the car and went on her way.
RB certainly hadn’t made her day. As a matter of fact, he hadn’t made mine either. Dinner was cold and he got heck.
RB just sighed and said, “Gee, I was just trying to be nice and polite and look what I get.”
Poor helpless creatures! It’s a good thing they have their wives looking out for their better interests. Poor female employee. I could have told her she wasn’t his type.
RB has always been the type of fellow whose amorous attentions are directly related to the ability of the female to ring up sales on the cash register!
I’d say when she climbed out of his car that night, she had definitely registered a “no sale” with RB!