Tea And Sympathy

Entry by: Sémaigho

30th March 2018
The divorce was at the behest of Susan, and not something I wanted. However, she attained her desired status of being my ex-wife.
“I don’t love you anymore.” She imparted the news with all the decorum of a bull shopping for fine bone china, trying to make it sound like a huge loss. The reality was she couldn’t get away fast enough since she got smitten by a new love. The fact that her new love was a mutual lady friend had brought its own baggage.
Gail was another mutual lady friend, and she had rallied to my cause. My square frame became a round peg in little cafes, drinking loose leaf tea from china cups. She knew I was more at home with a pint of real ale down the ‘Duck and Swan,’ but believed times of stress were best endured alcohol free.
“I know how you feel Gabriel” she told me and repeated the most painful parts of her own divorce. But there was no comparison. She had grown weary of her dependant husband.
“How is Harry?” I would ask her back when they boiled the same kettle, knowing her reply would never reflect well on horrid Harry. But her answers could be amusing.
“Poor Harry is tired after a long day looking for work in bed,” was one answer I received.
Harry wasn’t lazy, and he proved it by getting a good job the week after his divorce. We talked about it when we met for a pint after we lost the two women. He was gracious enough to acknowledge that I had the bigger loss. It turned out he wanted out of the marriage but believed it might be better if Gail decided it was her idea since control was important to her. Perfect passive aggression became his successful strategy. Since he had already relinquished his role of bringing home the weekly bacon it meant she walked away almost empty handed.
“Almost,” he explained meant she kept the time-share in Ibiza which cost a thousand a year in maintenance and was her idea. That same time-share took centre stage in my next episode with Gail. She knew my pain and grew convinced a week in her apartment was just what I needed. Right there I saw why Harry took the passive route in his exit from the marriage. I found I could not refuse. Still raw from my divorce, I didn’t feel that a week alone in Ibiza was what I needed, but three weeks later I boarded the flight at Stansted Airport.
Much to my surprise Gail did not appear the week before I left. Neither did I receive any texts from the woman who had cluster bombed me with messages as part of her aerial support strategy. Not that I was complaining because the act of packing and organising brought back painful memories of the many holidays I had shared with Susan. Besides, I had an abundance of Gail’s precooked dinners in the freezer, since her supply line seemed to assume that I ate several dinners a day. If forced to say one nice thing about her, it would be that she is a good cook, and her duck legs a l’ orange are divine.
The time at the airport brought more pain with memories of our little routines, like relaxing over a drink with all the rumpus of check-in completed. I had a quiet pint, but I hadn’t yet acquired the taste of drinking alone. Even the promise of blue skies and sunshine did nothing to raise my drooping head. I thought with my current luck Ibiza would get its first snow in forty years.
The sun shone when I arrived and during the scenic transfer to the apartment my spirits lifted; perhaps Gail was right after all. I might not be ready for a holiday romance but the week of sun might well be a turning point, and this feeling grew stronger when I saw the beautiful setting Gail had chosen as her time-share.
“Apartment 666, sir. Yes, a lovely view over the ocean.” The friendly receptionist enthused about my accommodation as if I was a prospective buyer and continued to gush like she had newly discovered the gift of speech.
“Mrs Thompson has spent the past week making it all homely,” she said. “How did she say? Yes; ‘Feathering the nest’,” but my English is not so good.”
In fact her English is not only good but far too specific in its meaning for my bruised soul. I know of only one Mrs. Thompson and she is the owner of that week’s time-share in apartment 666. That particular Mrs. Thompson is better known to me as Gail.
“Is she still there?” I asked.
I swigged water so fast and fulsome it looked like an attempt at self-drowning.
“Don’t worry; of course she is. She came to reception two hours past asking me to suggest somewhere special where I would take the love of my life.”
“And what did you suggest?”
“I suggested the ‘Frutos Del Amor’.” She said, making a circle in the air with her thumb and index finger.
“Frutos Del Amor.” I repeated.
“It means, ‘The fruits of love’.” She said, cupping her hands as if fondling a giant melon, and then continued to her sad conclusion when she realised I did not share her enthusiasm.
“But I lost something in the translation.”