Despite my protests, we ended up at the supermarket. Whenever Mrs. Devil's birthday rolled around, that's inevitably where I'd find myself. There was just no convincing Lucifer that there were better places to buy a gift.
There are a number of things I’ve never really understood about Satan’s relationship with his wife. The first of which being; why he only ever referred to her as ‘Mrs. Devil’. I found that a bit weird, to be honest. As I’m sure you know, he himself is known by many names, so for her to only have one never quite sat right with me. I had a suspicion that her real names were all really long and complicated, probably unpronounceable using a mortal tongue, but I didn’t ever press the issue for fear that it’d expose another one of Satan’s little hang ups. Namely, that he’d married a lady way above his station. I wasn’t about to inflame his acute sense of class consciousness by enquiring whether she had the otherworldly equivalent of a double barreled name, and I was never alone with her long enough to ask her directly. In any case, what would I gain by knowing her names, anyway? The only likely result would be to open a marital can of worms that had been sitting quietly undisturbed in Chez Diablo for many happy years. No, as a friend I knew that some questions were best left unanswered.
Sometimes however, you really do need to let a friend know when they’re making a mistake. As with every year, I was trying my best to convince Lucifer that a mistake was just what he was making. No matter how big or well stocked a supermarket might be, it is rarely an appropriate place to buy a gift for your significant other. Not the main present, anyway. I mean, sure, you can use it to pad things out with a bottle of wine or some nice chocolates, but you shouldn’t seek to buy the main gift there. Of course, Beelzebub paid me no heed, and was instead eyeing up some oversized trays of vacuum packed beef. This was the crux of the problem – he didn’t appreciate that gift shopping was all about context. While he was perfectly correct in his belief that his wife loved a nice steak dinner, what he didn’t appreciate was that giving her a slab of uncooked, bloody meat for her birthday didn’t exactly scream ‘romance’. Luckily, a comment from me about how much water retailers pumped into meat these days was enough to steer him away from that disastrous path. Instead, we headed for the entertainment section of the store – safer ground by far. Well, so you’d think. Problem was, rather than buying her something she might possibly want, such as season one of The Wire, the new Charlene Spitteri album or a celebrity hardback, Satan’s love of a bargain drew him straight to the discount DVD bin. I stood flabbergasted as I watched him try and convince himself that Mrs. D would love some of the heavily discounted ‘classics’ on offer.
There was nothing for it – yet again, as with every year, I was going to have to buy her something myself, and covertly swap the gifts at an opportune moment. At no small cost to myself, of course. I’d been doing it for years – I couldn’t stand to see him embarrass himself and hurt her feelings. This year though, as we stood at the checkout, the truth hit me – the cheap bastard knew full well what I’d been doing. He deliberately bought her crap gifts, safe in the knowledge my misplaced sense of loyalty would save him both face and cash. Well, not this year, I decided. I’d do nothing to intervene. Part of me even wished I could see the look on Mrs. Devil’s face when she unwrapped a slightly shop soiled copy of Rory McGrath’s Own Goals and Gaffes.