When does being polite mean we can’t ask for what we need?

‘You should get glasses,’ says my husband.  Without turning I know he is looking at the very attractive brunette sitting two tables from us reading her kindle.  

‘I’ve always wanted glasses,’ I say, knowing that our reasons for me wearing glasses will not be the same.

‘Then you could pretend you were a librarian,’ he said, his eyes widening slightly, mischief and desire mingling in the creases of his eyes.  The same eyes he’d like to have nipped and tucked so that when he is 45 he’ll look 35.  

‘A straight-laced librarian with a naughty side,’ I say drolly.  I’m sure this is the plot of at least a hundred porno’s.  ‘Are you going to bend me over the card catalogue?’ 

‘No, you’ll be wearing a short skirt and leaning over to put away a book.’  He laughs, delighted with himself.  I look around at the darkly lit, nearly empty restaurant, the brunette has been pulled away from her book by a tall, silver haired, dapper man.  

‘Swedish?’ I ask my husband.

‘Maybe.’

‘Norwegian.’  I conclude as I hear him mention a city in Norway I’ve never heard of.  I’m intrigued by Norway.  I’ve never been, but I want to go.  My husband tells me it is cold and expensive but I still want to go.  Images of forests, lakes, mountain cabins and wilderness, there’s a wildness there that excites me.  We watched a clip about the seed storage facility they built miles under a mountain.  It houses copies of all of the worlds seeds, ‘there’s something comforting says the man on the video, knowing that if something should happen, the worlds crops will not be wiped out.’

My husband and I talked about buying a property in Tasmania, somewhere we could go off grid. I fantasise about living off the land.  Growing our own food, setting up polytunnels, and orchards, keeping animals, working hard, but being self sufficient.  And the idea that somewhere in Norway the worlds seeds are being stored makes me happy.  

‘See,’ I say to my husband, as he searches for hotels in the Canary Islands, ‘even if you are sitting alone, people will still talk to you.’  My husband loves to be alone.  Thrives on solitude.  In his ideal world, the only people he would have to deal with are those he does business with and his family.  I mean this is a man who fell in love with a t-shirt on line that read: ‘Not shy, I just don’t like you.’  If they’d shipped it to the Netherlands, he’d have ordered it in an instant.

‘What would you do, just not answer?’ I ask, curious how he handled unwanted social interactions.  

‘No, that would be rude,’ he says.  I smile.  I can’t help it, I’ve seem him yell at airport staff because they weren’t “following protocol”.   ‘I’d just finish up and leave,’ he says without looking up.   

‘It’s funny how we can’t just say, “I don’t mean to be rude, but I was hoping to enjoy my meal on my own.  I really don’t feel like talking.  I hope that’s okay.”  I mean heaven forbid we offend someone.’  I wonder at all the things people do because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, all the things I have done.   ‘I’d probably end up in a conversation I didn’t want to be in, that would last an hour and a half.’  My husband laughed, he’s seen it happen.    

The brunette keeps chatting with the silver fox. 

‘He’s trying to pick her up,’ says my husband. 

I watch as the man, casually pushes his jacket sleeves up, and leans back a little too comfortably in his seat.  A move I’ve seen many men make.  He is dressed smartly.  He looks good and he knows it.  

‘Maybe he’s just lonely.’ 

‘You’re so naive, I know men.’

I laugh, ‘you know you,’  

My husband lets out a loud guffaw, stopping just shy of slapping the table.  ‘You don’t like people,’ I continue, ‘how can you possibly know people?’

He puts his arm around me and hugs me, ‘You’re funny,’ he says.

‘I have my moments,’ I say, as I always do, kissing his cheek.

We push back our chairs and as my husband signs the check, the brunette knocks back what is left of her coffee and then high tails it out of the restaurant.  

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Different cultural attitudes to nakedness

The sun is warm on my skin and I don’t want to move.   Except that the concrete tiles are cold.  I turn my head and look about me, searchingly.  Perfect.  I roll myself up and grab three of the seat cushions from the nearby table.  The courtyard is empty except for my husband and I.  The other guests have all departed, hunger satiated, to retire by the pool on the sun lounges.  Its a much more beautiful view, for sure, but I cannot be bothered moving.  

I look up at my husband, he is on a daybed in the shadows, his jacket wrapped tightly around him, eyes glued to his iPad as he watches another world war II documentary.  I don’t understand how he finds that relaxing, but he tells me he does.  It’s a bit like when we go for a massage, I want something to release the knots in my muscles but I want it to be relaxing.  He wants someone who will literally bruise him.  He pretends he is training for the day he is tortured, this way he knows he will not crack under pressure.  Why anyone would want to torture him, other than me, I have no idea.  I went to lie next to him but it was too cold.  Instead, I grabbed the remaining cushions and fashioned myself a kind of nest. 

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