My wife is hav­ing an af­fair be­cause I smell

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEATURES -

Ithink my wife is be­ing un­faith­ful to me. Don’t get the idea that I am be­ing neu­rotic or para­noid here — I have ev­i­dence. No, I haven’t in­ter­cepted any in­crim­i­nat­ing emails or texts, nor has she dis­ap­peared in a sus­pi­cious man­ner (al­though come to think of it, she did spend a long time in Sains­bury’s the other day). Nei­ther has she given any in­di­ca­tion that she is pre­oc­cu­pied with some­one else or un­happy with our re­la­tion­ship and her track record gives me ab­so­lutely no in­di­ca­tion that I have any­thing to worry about.

In fact, on the face of it she gives ev­ery in­di­ca­tion of be­ing a lov­ing wife and mother. How­ever, she is al­most cer­tainly in­volved with some­one. What do I base this on? Science, that’s what.

It seems that the more dif­fer­ent your genes are from your spouse, the more likely you are to stay with him. If your genes are very sim­i­lar, your wife is far more likely to have itchy feet (which must be a com­fort to cuck­olded hus­bands who thought their snor­ing or their smelly feet were to blame for their mar­riage break-up — guys, there’s ab­so­lutely noth­ing you could have done short of a gene trans­plant).

It all comes down to the ma­jor histo- com­pat­i­bil­ity com­plex — or MHC, as we shall call it. Th­ese genes are the key to im­mune sys­tem. Stud­ies have shown that we can de­tect the make-up of an­other per­son’s MHC un­con­sciously through their sweat — and the more dif­fer­ent some­one else’s sweat is from your own, the more at­trac­tive they are to you.

This mech­a­nism is thought to have evolved to pre­vent us un­in­ten­tion­ally mat­ing with rel­a­tives or oth­ers who are ge­net­i­cally sim­i­lar to us, thus en­sur­ing that our chil­dren have the great­est chance of fight­ing off dis­ease. It also ex­plains why not all smelly peo­ple live alone.

This is why I think that, while I sit here try­ing to earn enough to pay this month’s en­larged mort­gage, Jo is prob­a­bly lust­ing over a man who smells dif­fer­ent to me. You see, Jo and I are both Ashke­nazi Jews, and we Ashke­nazis have a very small gene pool, so the chances are that Jo and I are very sim­i­lar, ge­net­i­cally speak­ing.This would ex­plain why we both like sushi and watch­ing Celebrity Big Brother (in­deed, spook­ily, we both like eat­ing sushi in front of Celebrity Big Brother) and de­spise Anne Robin­son (whose sweat nei­ther of us want to sniff). In­deed, Jo and I have so much in com­mon and get on so well, that she ab­so­lutely must be hav­ing an af­fair.

Be­fore you start won­der­ing why it is Jo who is hav­ing the af­fair and not me, ac­cord­ing to the re­search, male in­fi­delity is not af­fected by MHC. This is prob­a­bly be­cause men can­not multi-task — we are un­able to reg­is­ter the smell of a fe­male’s sweat while we are watch­ing the foot­ball or sort­ing out our socks. (Ac­tu­ally, if I were to book a ho­tel room for the af­ter­noon, it would only be be­cause, as the fa­ther of two small chil­dren, I need to catch up on my sleep.)

No, the more I think of MHC, the more I think I should pop home to check that my wife isn’t in­volved in a clinch with a 6ft blond guy with blue eyes, a turned up nose and funny smelling sweat (in­deed now I think of it she has in the past pro­fessed an ad­mi­ra­tion for the work of the rather Nordic-look­ing ac­tor Ralph Fi­ennes, even when in Nazi uni­form in Schindler’s List).

The only com­fort I can take in my mis­ery is that I am not alone. All you Ashke­nazi guys with Aske­nazi wives are in the same boat.

We may not be able to change our ge­netic make-up but that does not mean we are pow­er­less. I’m just off to buy some new af­ter­shave, bleach for my hair and a pair of plat­form shoes — I sug­gest that you all do the same.

Si­mon Round

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