Richard Bucket sat in his living room staring at the newspaper on the coffee table. He had a great urge to pick it up and start reading it, but he felt that would be an exercise in futility. No doubt within a few minutes his wife Hyacinth would be calling for him, making him into an unwilling participant in another one of her harebrained schemes to advance their social status. Not that they were unimportant people. Richard was quite happy with their station in life.

Oh sure, everyone wanted a little more money, a slightly bigger house and maybe a swimming pool, but he felt quite blessed materially.

He knew that Hyacinth had grown up in grinding poverty; her father had never been well enough emotionally after the war to hold a steady job, and that had sparked in her a lifelong desire to feel wealthy and important, to feel like she had some worth in the eyes of others. The problem was that she had been trying so hard for so long, she wasn't even aware that she had attained her goal.

He often wondered why what with all the trouble she gave him he had chosen to remain married to her all these years. But really he knew the answer to that; he still loved her.

He glanced at the newspaper again and fought off another urge to grab it.

Hyacinth didn't mean to cause him pain, in fact most of the time she wasn't even aware of his feelings, even when he flat out told them to her. He supposed this made her a bit egocentric, but Richard knew that she really did care about him. Once in a while, when she didn't think he was looking he caught her glancing at him lovingly, and on rare occasions she even told him she loved him.

He supposed he was a fool for putting up with her all these years, but if that was the case, then he was a fool in love.

Glancing at the newspaper again, he felt all resistance break down and he grabbed it and leaned back into the couch with a contented sigh.

"Richard!" Came the excited voice of Hyacinth as she came bounding into the room. "I had a wonderful idea for the Church dinner next week and I wanted your opinion on it."

Richard sighed as he put down the paper. Just once he would have liked to read it in peace, but he supposed like death and taxes there was no avoiding Hyacinth Bucket.