Archives for the month of: November, 2012

She loved to dance.  Since she’d been a little girl, it was her love of dancing that made her believe there was more to life than playing in the broken streets of East London.  She dreamed romantic dreams.  By her teens, she’d danced her way onto the London stage before finding greater success and notoriety in the Italian movie houses and glamour magazines.  She danced and sang the songs of the day, the music stirring her from the inside out.  She became the heart’s desire of countless Italian men, young and old.

Through her fortunate career she met the man who became her husband.  She shared her time between Rome and London and was prepared to dance happily ever after with her leading man and young son.  With that much love in her life, the steadfast orchestra swelled and soared toward infinity.

Years later her husband died, her son grew up and moved out.  She was just getting used to the new normal when, alone in her flat one morning, normal took on an entirely new definition.  She was about to climb into the bath when she heard a frightening crash from above.  Before she had the chance to look up, the water tank that was housed in the empty space above the room she was in, fell through the ceiling and landed on her, pinning her to the floor.  Water gushed from the ruptured plumbing, live electrical cables dangled from the opening in the shredded ceiling.  She thought she’d certainly be electrocuted.  She wasn’t strong enough to push the heavy tank off her trapped legs.  After an hour of shouting for help, a neighbour finally heard her and came to her rescue.  She hadn’t been electrocuted.  But her lower spine had been crushed.

She still lives in both cities.  When she’s in her London flat – doors just wide enough to accommodate her wheelchair – she often employs the services of a local handyman whom she trusts.  Over the years he has tiled her bath, replaced taps, refinished the floors, built shelves, painted her walls, repaired furniture to name just a few of the jobs.  In appreciation she gives him tea and biscuits and usually offers her thanks with an unaffectedly maternal ‘Good boy.’  But he can’t put everything right.

The streets she’d once strutted down with her long, muscular dancer’s legs now fill her with anxiety.  The once confident showgirl of Italian cinema is trapped within her own vulnerability.  She won’t venture outside unless accompanied.  Occasionally her reliable handyman takes her out of her tiny flat and pushes her down the road to the local pub where they share stories and lunch.  Their mutual interests in film, writing, history and families pepper the unremitting conversation until they finish their pints.  Then he takes her back home where the television is a constant companion and the phone a rare lifeline.

She loved to dance.  Then her legs were taken from her.  The once unending music, timeless and immortal, has dimmed and given way to her tangible thoughts.

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My wife is of the misguided belief that countless women are throwing themselves at my feet.  Just one look at me would prove that this could only be fiction.  I’m not the kind of physical male specimen that has feet – or any other body part – women would in any way be interested in throwing themselves at.  With the curious exception of my wife.

So let me try to look at this from her perspective.

I go into strangers’ homes to do the type of work people are enormously appreciative of.   I complete jobs in front of their very eyes, which to them, in that intimate setting, are akin to brain surgery.  They gratefully give me their money as if some primeval thirst of theirs has finally been quenched after several parched years.  A large percentage of my clients fall into two categories:  1-Single women who have never been taught or aren’t confident enough to operate a few simple hand tools.  2-Married women whose husbands could easily be placed into category 1.

There are also two sub-clauses:  a-Too young for me.  b-Too old for me.  I am, of course, beholden to these women for bringing me into their kind employ, but that is as far as my sympathies go.

Because I deal largely with female clients, it’s natural, I suppose, for my wife to suffer even the most minor pangs of, shall we say, covetousness.  But so far I have yet to notice any specific occurrence of flirtation, forwardness, inappropriate behaviour or feet-throwing.  With perhaps one exception.

She was in category 1, sub-clause b.   Whenever I spoke to her she’d tilt her head to one side and slightly away from me, smiling and giggling in, for lack of a better description, a coy manner.  Then she would inevitably bring her hand up to her head and play with her hair, tucking it conveniently behind her ear.  This would happen three or four times per conversation.  I’m no anthropologist, but I’ve always identified a well-timed hair-tuck as a tepidly flirtatious gesture.

Although I can’t be sure.  And that, it seems, is part of the problem.  My wife knows that I’m generally oblivious to such signals, whether tepid or full-throttle boiling.  But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been happening.  I’m apt to miss a blatant proposition even if it put its hands directly down my trousers.  So who knows?  Maybe there have been several clients/women throwing themselves at me and I’ve just been too obtuse to notice.  Could I really be non-euphemistically only interested in hanging blinds in their kitchens? Perhaps I could have single-handedly succeeded in ending the dry spells of all the desperate, single women in South London.

Maybe I’ve been charging for the wrong service.

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