As I watch her sleep, my heart hurt as I considered the numbers and statistics. It did indeed possible that somewhere in this childs' future a violent man lay in wait. Perish, perish, perish the thought.
2. When I arrived at my sisters' house for lunch on Sunday Oeuf 1 (my eldest niece) was nowhere to be seen. My sister Coq Au Vin whispered that she had locked herself in her room and refused to come out.
I gained entry by dint of a Sheldonesque door knocking technique. She let me in and then threw herself back onto her bed. I adopted my most tactful manner and eventually she laid the whole story bare. She and her boyfriend had been working on a paper together and she wanted to use the phrase 'not my cup of tea' he didn't know it and when she explained it he laughed and said "That's like you". When asked to elaborate he did so with "Well, you aren't every ones' cup of tea Oeuf 1, but that's what I like about you. You are MY cup of tea". Poor fool probably thought that in these days of 'bae' and emojis he was being both poetic and quick witted. However, his little pseudo compliment backfired spectacularly since Oeuf 1 interpreted it to mean that she wasn't generally attractive. Worse, he was saying that he liked that she wasn't attractive, because that meant he could have her all to himself with no worries about competition.
She had taxed him with this and they had ended up having a full scale row. This had concluded with him saying that if it wasn't enough for her to be special to him and if she wanted to be special to everyone, then so be it!
Now a whole 24 hours had passed and he hadn't called.
"But Oeuf 1" I said "Correct me if I am wrong but do you WANT to be everyone's cup of tea? I mean don't you pride yourself on being a nerdy
intellectual type who will only wear a dress on pain of death?"
"Yes"! She wailed "But HE shouldn't think that! He should be proud to be with me! He should think I am wonderful. He should think I could find someone else if I wanted to. NOT that I want to! Uuuuuurghhh!"
I got it. She didn't want to be his funny valentine. She wanted to be his goddess.
I made us some coffee and then said what I genuinely felt to be true "I understand completely and admit that that wasn't the neatest compliment in the history of the world. But for what it's worth I don't for one little minute think he meant it badly. He was just trying to say that you are unique and he loves that about you"
Big tears plopped into her cup of hazelnut Nescafe and she said "I know! That's the worst part! Now he probably hates me and it's probably all over between us. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"
I was saved (quite literally) by the bell.
Oeuf 2 appeared at the door with an excited "Akki! Delivery for you!" There on the table was a large black mug with the word 'coffee' on it in white cursive. It was filled to the brim with her favourite coconut peak chocolates. There was a note. Oeuf 1 read it and blushed. She handed it to me. It went like this "It would be nice to think that only I see you the way I do but that's like saying every other guy in the world is blind, stupid or nuts. I am sorry. Please forget the whole cup of tea business ok? It was dumb of me. PS: And anyway, we both know I only really like coffee"
Oeuf 1 dashed out of the room with her phone clasped to her chest. There was no doubt that reconciliation was absolutely on the cards.
Coq Au Vin and I exchanged meaningful looks. 'Kudos to the boy for acting quickly and with charm' said our first look. 'He has made our girl happy again' said our second. Our final look said 'He is rather a smart ass. He bears watching. Very very closely'.
When I left that day I could see that, as happy as she was, Oeuf 1 had gained an insight into herself - she DID care about being attractive after all, in all the traditional senses that the word can imply. And as much as I knew that caring about that is incredibly normal and tragically inevitable, I wished so much that my wonderful girl could have continued to live in a world where she didn't care a jot about how she was perceived.
3. A friend's divorce was finalized. It had been a long and tough road. She changed her FB status and uploaded a new profile picture. It was a meme that quotes Maya Mendoza "No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams" Three of her husbands' friends, guys she has known for over a decade, been on holidays with, cooked for, hiked with, advised about women and generally considered HER friends too, posted horrendously cruel comments on her wall. She closed her FB account. I held her while she sobbed and cried.
4. One of my best friends celebrated 20 years of marriage. Her husband has been ill for almost all those years. In her speech she said that they got a decade more together than they thought they would. She joked that he was once a far better person than she, but now he was just as horrid since they had, with time, 'become the same person'. He made a speech too, in it he thanked her for keeping him alive on her regime of 'insults, unreasonable demands, ass kickings and hectoring'. I remembered that when they first discovered he was ill I advised her to treat him more gently, to be kinder and more loving. She was a lot wiser than I was as it has turned out. If she had followed my advice that extra decade (and hopefully much more) may not have been theirs.
5. A male friend says he thinks his wife is having an affair. I ask why and he sighs and says "Because she seems happy. I came home the other day and she was singing. That's not because of me". I try to tell him that he is wrong, but I know his wife and singing due to self generated joy does seems unlikely. What was she singing I ask in an attempt to lighten the mood "Queen's Somebody to love" he answers grimly. I buy the next round of drinks. It is the least I can do.
6. A friend of mine adopts a baby. It signifies the end of a long journey filled with heart ache and bewilderment and shattered hopes. Her husband had resisted adoption, preferring to try every possible biological option. In the end he was compelled to give in. I watch him when I visit them and he seems entirely mesmerized with his new son, and absolutely enraptured at the sight of his wife in her new role. I will continue to keep my fingers crossed.
7.The Man and I bump into Foie Gras and a lusciously gorgeous young woman at my favourite Japanese place at the Dutch Hospital. We smile politely and move swiftly to our respective tables. It almost passes for good behaviour. Then my phone beeps, Foie Gras has sent me a Whatsapp message, it's a picture of a long glass of cold water. He has captioned it with 'Is he as refreshing as he looks'? I am about to locate a picture of a cradle and type 'Snatch anything else lately'? when I look up and see that the Man is watching me. His eyes say 'I love you, but this is annoying me'. I toss my phone in my bag. It stays there for the rest of the evening.
Decisions. Life is full of them. Some change nothing. Some change everything. Would that we all have the wisdom to know which ones are which.