Sometimes you really don’t feel like going out though it’s Friday and there should be no reason why you’re so tired. Except that your long run of ill health has now sprung a swollen tonsil and an absent doctor on you and won’t see another. The good thing is that you’re not taking antibiotics anymore because out here you need a doctor for that. The bad thing is that you’re reduced to sipping cough syrup for babies in the hope that that will numb the pain.
But the plan has been made and so you try to pretty up yourself because this one friend of your husband has the capacity to make you feel inadequate if you haven’t had a pedicure and you haven’t. You put on a tight black top and suck your tummy in and brush your hair silky and wear twikly blue earings. You even put a coat of nailpolish on your toes as an afterthought.
Then you put one foot in front of the other and make your way to where you’re meeting your husband and his friends, secure in the knowledge that there will at least one other woman there and you won’t be the only instrusive female present on a boy’s night out. When you get to the right MTR station you look up and see them standing there laughing and before they can see you, you bury your nose in your book and walk right past them.
It turns out ok though. Because these people are nice – well, most of them and even the obnoxious friend is behaving. Somewhere to the end of a greasy dinner masquerading as Thai food he tells you when the husband is not away, you should call them and hang out. “I actually like you, you know,” he says and I am genuinely touched because we are normally claws-out at each other. But he’s just a lonely old-ish guy trying to have it all and though I think that’s immature and so gweilo and a bit orientalist, I feel a touch sad.
Yes, he could have compromised and made it work with the women he chose to marry and then maybe he could have what V and I do, if we continue to, but nevermind, maybe he actually did have good reason to throw in the towel. And when I see his blue eyes wide with the fear of dying alone, even I soften despite the incredibly rude things he has said to me on ocassion.
We end up in a peanut bar – one of those where you get a bowl of peanuts and as you eat them you throw the shells on the floor around you if you haven’t flung them at your friends in childishness that always continues a bit too long. I end up talking a little too long to obnoxious-turned-nice-for-the-mo friend and wonder if the other two women – one of which he should be dating – are getting annoyed.
At one point I turn around to find V’s hand on by back and I ask him to kiss me and instead of laughing he leans over and does it, on the lips, like he hasn’t around his buddies for a long time. I am surprised but have enough wine in me to act as if this is perfectly normal. Which it is. Only it hasn’t been happening for a while which is ok because I know that PDA is not always polite.
As usual, the evening ends with the single boys – or those without there wives in evidence – head to Wan Chai and owing to my presence, we head home. We do not fight in the taxi because both of us have such bad throats, dulled temporarily by wine, that we cannot speak.