must have put on at least 20 pounds since you last saw her in this crowded
pub. You didn’t notice the extra weight until she drew attention to it
herself, caricaturing the “dumb” woman with deadly irony. “I don’t
understand how eating one pound of chocolates adds five pounds on the
tended to look at her mouth. Either because she was smiling between every
two words or because her Cupid bow lips were outlined in a grape-coloured
lipstick which just stopped short of being vampish. Her silky, charcoal-
black hair was severely pulled back to reveal a deeply olive-skinned,
heart-shaped face, and black, smallish, almond-shaped eyes.
of her individual features stood out, yet, as she spoke, you came away
with the blurred impression of the drunkard, that she was beautiful. She
threw her gaze here and there with a flutter of her lashes as a casual
bone to the men in her vicinity who, craning their necks, darting sidelong
looks, occasionally staring blatantly, gnawed like famished dogs at any
recognition she chose to give them.
laughed raucously, with wanton abandon, yet managed, astonishingly enough,
to give the impression amongst all, that oozing sexuality of being
intelligent. Three women surrounded her in this one-way conversation. She
held court, as they listened with rapt attention.
was no denying that her audience of three were goodlooking women. They
were slimmer, had children, careers, security, and husbands who worshipped
the ground they walked on. She told them how jealous she was of their flat
stomachs, flattered them: “Didn’t you have a baby just yesterday? You
are sickeningly thin” or “oh, you have it all”.
her eyes shone with what you could not tell. It could have been
reflections of moonlight, or lamplight, but seemed to be backlit from
inside. She looked happier than them all. She was in her mid 30s. She had
been married once, but left her husband in two years, very shortly after
she discovered she no longer loved him.
was quick on the draw, her comments a volley of sharp gunshots, delivered
with the clipped precision, and the confidence you would expect from a
woman of means, or a high-flying career.
Except that she was a secretary and her fruity English accent was
the only indication that she may have had a privileged background.
you going out with anyone now?” asked one of the women. She indicated a
tallish man who hung around a bit and then disappeared when it was
apparent that the talk was going to be girly. Laughter. The circle of
women closed in.
found the new man on her doorstep. She said. At work. She quipped: “Why
go far when they are right in front of you?” “You haven’t seen me
because we’ve been bonking solidly for six months.” She talked openly
about sex, about her enjoyment of it.
is shocked by doing something very simple. Telling the truth. There was no
winding around it, no altering of it, no ego blocking it, no clamouring
voices of society telling her what would be acceptable. She had no
hang-ups. She was a woman who had come into her own.
women around her went through the two stages people do when faced with the
truth, especially in a social situation when people automatically have
their masks on - shock, and the second, more important level, recognition,
of something that resounded soundly in themselves. They were rapt.
going off travelling. I don’t have a career which ties me down. I can
take my skills anywhere in the world. The world’s an adventure, and I
don’t need the house, the husband, the children, the mortgage, the land,
the cars to make myself worthy. That sort of stuff would only weigh my
if reading the minds of the women around her, who at that moment were
wistful, thinking of the compromises they’ve made, how somewhere along
the road, they’ve lost themselves, but are consoling themselves with the
fact of their “security” she adds.
if it means that I end up being alone in my old age, well at least I would
have lived most of my life, my way.”
She didn’t save the fluttering eyelashes and frequent dazzling
smiles for men alone, like some women, who made you think that this woman
really loved life, and didn’t care who was watching. She was talking
left my husband when I decided I didn’t love him. That’s the hardest
thing I’ve ever done. Telling someone who adores you that you don’t
want to be with them. That’s why I won’t get married again. The odd
thing is, I think if we had not gotten married we would have probably been
together. But it’s important to me to maintain a sense of,
she paused, “individuality”.
added: “That doesn’t mean I don’t want a stable relationship. “I
do, but not on” ... and here she drew inverted commas in the air
“societies terms, or at the expense of my sense of self.” The women
gaped as if she were an exhibition, someone who broke all the rules,
without consequences. They were used to looking smug around 30-something
women who longed for children. It was clear by the look on their faces
that it had already dawned on them, that it was she rather than they who
had it all. But with quick generosity, as if she sensed their envy, she
tripped over her words to console them.
think I have an exciting life. But I don’t, you know. Most nights I am
slumped in front of the TV eating chips and then weighing myself.” She
laughed dazzlingly again, flashing white teeth, as the little group
dispersed, and another, largely male group, closed in around her. In the
earliest hours of the morning when the large trees threw full- leafed
night shadows into the pavement, the three women walked away from the din
of the pub. They talked amongst themselves. “I’ve learned” said one,
“that trappings of security - mortgage, cars, husband, children don’t
necessarily make you a secure person.”
can go, children grow up and a house can’t talk to you when you’re
lonely. Often, security makes you far more fearful of the world, afraid of
risks, afraid of adventure, robs you of fulfilment.”
learned,” said the second, “not to judge the women of our century. We
don’t have to be any one thing. Neither bitter bra-burning feminists,
nor little dominated doormat wives. We don’t have to play dumb,
skimpily-dressed bimbos to attract men. Nor do we have to be the cynical
working woman screaming silently as her biological clock ticks by. We
don’t have to be too thin, or too rich to have it all. We can be a
little of everything, or reject all of it and make our own rules.
I’ve learned”, concluded the third “is that we have choices, and it
takes a little soul-searching and a little courage, to create much
happiness, to allow the moon to light us up from inside.” The clouds
parted, a sudden gust lifted some heavy branches and the moon lit up three