In the company of other women he often spoke of his wife as if invoking her name protected him from impure thoughts and actions. “My wife has pretty hands like yours,” he might say. Or “My wife also wears glasses. She is nearsighted.” If the other women smiled but remained silent, he felt nervous as though he had insulted them. If they spoke to him, he would again mention his wife, in the hope of inoculating himself.
And if the women laughed, that would devastate him, send him spiraling into a pit of recrimination and regret. “My wife reads mystery novels.” The words with their garlic-esque magic to ward off evil. “But she reads the last chapter first and then starts from the beginning to see how he character figures out the crime.”
Plus he hates the sound of his voice, which becomes high pitched and too fast to correct himself as he talks. “My wife,” he says. “My wife is parking the car and will be here any minute.” He tries not to smile in the company of other women, and desperate that they do not smile at him.