When Ernest Rutherford split the atom for the first time in 1917 he raced home to tell his wife Martha the incredible news, as you do, and was surprised to find himself walking into an iceberg colder than the one the Titanic had encountered five years earlier.

“Fascinating,” being her only response.

The father of nuclear physics may have been one of the most gifted scientists of all time but this was of little or no use in understanding women, an exercise which makes demonstrating the existence of the ionosphere seem like child’s play.

Bemused by her indifference to his earth-shattering news Rutherford would have sat in his favourite chair, scratching his crotch and trying to figure out why this quantum leap in science had barely elicited a response.

Right there you have the problem.

Rutherford was looking in the wrong place.

When men forget their nearest and dearest’s birthday, their anniversary or, as in Rutherford’s case, Valentine’s Day, women will not, under any circumstances, simply point out this fact. They would rather make their men sweat blood until they work out where they went wrong.

Instead there are two clear signs that danger is lurking.

The first, which is easy to spot, is when your doctor diagnoses that you are suffering from hypothermia and it’s the middle of December. The second, far more dangerous, is that she begins responding with one word answers.

It’s like a bullet after every question: “Fine”; “No”; “When?”; “Really?”

After the last one, you might want to up your life insurance.

How do I know this?

I’ve been married to the government (Mrs Traps) for 26 years and unlike this government, if I cock it up, there’s no state of the nation address, just a blast of Arctic weather – which the weather forecasters can no longer warn us against on account of going to jail for ten years – and one-word answers delivered in a way that dares me to seek an explanation.

Which is very unfair seeing as though she still hasn’t even read the Wisden book of the 50 greatest cricketers I got her for her birthday or worn the Blue Bulls jersey I bought her for our anniversary.

Hardly worth the bother really.

It’s not as if I don’t appreciate her. Every time she comes home from shopping she asks me if I missed her.

“With every bullet so far.”

This Valentine’s Day, like all others, there are going to be those schmucks who have forgotten to buy a present or even a card and casually arrive home expecting their dinner to be on the table.

At first things will run smoothly until it dawns on their missus (who is as good as a mile) that the moron has, as usual, forgotten a special day. Then the proverbial hits the fan.

Don’t panic, there is a solution.

As soon as you start feeling that biting cold and the one-word barrage begins, stop, ask to go to the toilet and then check the date on the calendar. If it’s not a day that can be easily pinpointed check her ID book to see if it’s her birthday and if it’s not that or Valentines, it’s safe to bet on your anniversary.

Now comes the tricky bit. What have you got in your car that looks new and she hasn’t seen before?

Last year I gave the government a wheel spanner for her birthday and a monkey wrench for our anniversary. I’m down to the last set of screwdrivers … do these women think I’m made of car tools?

Anyhow, be careful because newer cars have lots of tools while older models have few or none.

No matter how desperate your situation DO NOT give her brake pads or a steering wheel – nothing is worth dying for.

With that in mind you should make it past Valentine’s Day next Tuesday.

Or not.


  • Mike Trapido is a criminal attorney and publicist having also worked as an editor and journalist. He was born in Johannesburg and attended HA Jack and Highlands North High Schools. He married Robyn in 1984 (Mrs Traps, aka "the government") and has three sons (who all look suspiciously like her ex-boss). He was a counsellor on the JCCI for a year around 1992. His passions include Derby County, Blue Bulls, Orlando Pirates, Proteas and Springboks. He takes Valium in order to cope with Bafana Bafana's results. Practice Michael Trapido Attorney (civil and criminal) 011 022 7332 Facebook


Michael Trapido

Mike Trapido is a criminal attorney and publicist having also worked as an editor and journalist. He was born in Johannesburg and attended HA Jack and Highlands North High Schools. He married Robyn...

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