I was 28 in February 1998 when I met a drop-dead gorgeous fashion designer who owned a boutique store in New Kingston. I saw her every day, opening her store as I went to work. I never said anything to her.
I knew she was married, not only because of the blinding lights radiating from her ring finger, but because I had also seen her often with him.
She was older than me, richer than me, prettier than me, better fed than me, sexier than me, healthier looking than me, and, from every conceivable perspective, clearly beyond me.
In April 1998 I finally built up the courage to approach her. I saw her one morning opening her store and I simply went over and said, “I hope your husband looks forward to seeing you the way I look forward to seeing you every single day.” She smiled. The next day when I was passing she smiled again and asked if I wanted to help her.
I cannot write about the things that happened after that, because this blog is child safe. All I can say is that the months that followed were steamy and delightful.
This happened, all of it, but only inside my head.
I never spoke a word to the woman, and never felt her light breath as her lips brushed against mine, with her eyes closed and struggling to conceal all her deepest desires for me. Nope, none of this happened, though I often daydreamed about it, in all its details.
There are things we have often thought about but never had the courage to say. And there are things we also find very hard to talk about with friends or anyone. Thinking about it this morning, I came up with my list of things people seem to have a problem saying or talking about. This is my list:
- How much we earn. This is particularly true for men, but women fall victim to this as well. We might talk about our salary if we work in the oil industry, or as a private investment banker, because then we’d know that we have a huge advantage over everyone else, but otherwise we shut up and wonder or guess. (For the record, I earn somewhere between “little to nothing” and “great expectations”.
- What you really wanted to say when a co-worker was sitting beside you and you were both working late one night, and you could smell his/her cologne. You started with, “Would you like to-” but what came out was “finish this report tonight?” instead of the real words you wanted to say. Days and months passed and those real words never appeared, and sometimes you wonder what might have been.
- The worst thoughts you’ve ever had. I know we are capable, each and every one of us, of evil thoughts, sinful thoughts. And perhaps you have once or twice found yourself in a place where your thoughts were darker than darkness. These thoughts you’ll always keep to yourself and never chat about at a barbecue.
- The times when you just couldn’t perform (and I don’t mean that you were asked to play Chopin.)
- How hard it is for you to keep up with the Joneses. We will be at lunch with the Joneses and they will be chatting about their plans for a new house, new car, new Sony laptop, summer vacations, to go to a Lady Gaga concert, etc. And we will chat around it, but never really find the nerve to simply say “My friend, all of that is beyond my means right now.” (For the record, I can keep up with the Joneses, the problem is the Bakers, the Johnsons, the Smiths,…)
- Our physical insecurities. True, there are some insecurities we find not so hard to talk about because they are challenges we as men or women have in common, like stubborn acne, or weight gain. With these things we can laugh and talk about our weakness for chocolate or we can chat for hours about how useless certain acne medications are. But when our insecurity relates to size, smell or shape, well… Discussing your own bad breath? The size of your itsy bitsy teeny weeny something? Talking about your crooked teeth? Your smelly arm, etc.? Nope. These are not so comfortable to discuss over wine and cheese.
- Our real sins. We are all born sinners and so we know that there is a space reserved for each and every one of us in hell from birth. Some of us go to church, meditate, and do things for charity etc. with the hope that these deeds will help to convey our regrets to the devil and cancel our reservation. Most of us are not bothered terribly as we laugh and talk about trying to give up simple ‘bad’ habits like smoking, drinking, and maybe even cheating. But sometimes there are things we have done that we find it very hard to talk about. Things that may have confirmed our reservation in the front seats of hell. Things we find it hard to forgive ourselves for, let alone to ask others to forgive. These things we don’t talk about at the picnic.
- Those things a parent, wife, husband, or loved one said to us that ripped us apart and exposed all our dangling frailties. The people who know you best, who know all your fears, weaknesses and mistakes, are usually the ones who can hurt you the deepest. Perhaps it was after something you did to a wife or husband, that led to a biting response which has stuck in your head ever since. Which has now become a living memory. Something said about you, about who you really are, that is so hurtful and terrible and possibly true, that you’ll never talk about it to anyone.
What have I left off this list?
Anyway, when I started writing my first novel I didn’t know how much of the things I’ve always been afraid to talk about I could actually write about. I am surprised at how much I wrote. Even more surprised that I am still writing. About the murders, the rapes, the sex, the beatings, the fears, and the hurtful things that people said in that little village a long time ago. And about the good things that happened as well. I guess, somehow the time comes when all of us must speak, or write.