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October 2014, vol 10 no 3

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Els van Leeuwen


Last week we talked about faith and religion while we waited for our respective sons to finish their martial arts class. This week she veers effortlessly into the topic of birth control. I've known her from around the place for years, but only recently have we talked at any great length. I'm finding her engaging, thoughtful and funny. She's one of those effortlessly stylish women, an inordinately gorgeous home-maker, originally from Lebanon, along with her husband.

"What are you using?" she wants to know, having previously taken great delight in quizzing me on my love life. She divulges that she and her husband are using condoms, but she is not happy with the situation. She wants, she emphasises with a mischievous grin, to feel it. She continues on this theme, and soon has me giggling like a schoolgirl at the back of the class. She is enjoying this. She playfully swats me and tells me she's jealous that I have a new lover in the wake of my failed marriage. My welling protest at her flippant idea of my life as some kind of idyll is gagged right away as she continues with her line of reasoning… "You see, I've been married for 14 years…we have this saying in Lebanon… how can I translate it?" she pauses thoughtfully, still with a hint of that grin playing around her mouth, "it's like if you eat the same meal night after night all your life. Even if you like it, sometimes you want to try something different, you know? How to say it... what's a Lebanese dish you know of?" "Hummus?" I respond, a little sheepish at my simple grasp of her native cuisine.

"Exactly!" she snorts. "That's what it's like, when you are married. It's just hummus, hummus, hummus." A repeated hand gesture calls to mind a production line of domesticated days and repetitive lovemaking.

cool change
the kinks in the wool
where the stitches unravelled