Perfect September 20, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Oh god. I’ve got guests coming. For three whole nights. And the Russian isn’t here. And I can’t cook. And we’ve only got one set of keys, and you can’t just go and get keys cut in Germany as, when you walk into a key-cutting shop to ask for them to cut keys, they look at you as if you are a criminal. Presumably the shops are there as part of a non-work work-creating scheme. Or for the key-cutting man who can’t cut keys to practise his skills just in case.
My guests are Finns, so at least from the nicest nation on earth, and my friend, the he in a couple, is perfect. Actually perfect. When I play that game with my old lady friend in England, you know, where you answer the questions that some famous person that you’ve never heard of has been asked in The Guardian, like when did you last have sex and what’s your greatest fear and how would you like to be remembered and there’s the question whom do you most admire, I always answer this Finnish friend. (My old lady answers her daughter. And sniggers at the when did you last have sex question.)
I’m not joking about the perfection. This friend is happy and can do everything. Academically he did something obscure and clever, partly in London (where I met him). He can speak a hundred languages (having a head-start in multilingualism by being a Swedish-speaking Finn). He can sail and do all sorts of clever sports. He can play piano (to the level where he gives concerts, even though it’s something he probably learnt one Thursday evening between rescuing people from an avalanche and finding homes for the indigent). And guitar. He can cook. He can sing. He adores his family and they adore him. He probably adores his new girlfriend and I suppose she adores him. He is charming, kind and modest. He’s got a job which I don’t think he loathes. And, to top it all off, he is tall, wiry and muscly and quite grotesquely beautiful. Who knows? He’s probably hung like a horse and a wizard in the sack too. I don’t know why he’s friends with me at all.
But what do I do with guests for three whole days? I’ll have to feign normality and go to bed at a normal time and get up at a normal time to provide a perfect breakfast. I’ll have to clean the flat so that they don’t catch diphtheria the moment they walk in. (Hopefully they’ve had their jabs.) And I’ll have to cook. Oh god, and I so can’t cook, as I have been reminded with stunning clarity while the Russian’s been away. The problem’s in the herbs. Whatever I cook, I always use the same effing herbs. Oregano, basil, tarragon and thyme. If I make a creamy pasta sauce, it’s oregano, basil, tarragon and thyme. A tomatoey one – oregano, basil, tarragon and thyme. Cheese on toast – oregano, basil, tarragon and thyme. A cup of tea – oregano, basil, tarragon and thyme. Every single dish I make ends up tasting precisely of washing-up liquid.
Oh fuck, and the flat stinks of smoke. Their bedroom – the living-room – is where I do my best smoking and more cigarettes have been smoked in this very room than in a Greek taverna holding a smoking competition. I’ve flung open the windows for the last god-knows-how-long, in spite of the freezingness. I’ve lit the scented candles which stink of cat’s piss. All to no avail. It’s been such a worry that I’ve had to start smoking again – and in this room – to ease the stress. Scrabbled around in jacket pockets to see if there were any fags left over from a spontaneous two-for-the-price-of-one piss-up last night. Thankfully, an elegant sufficiency.
It’s awfully difficult having friends, especially ones who make you feel genetically inferior. It’s times like these when you need a husband. I’m psychically punishing the Russian by sending him texts and e-mails of woe. Thankfully, he’s bored stiff in Russia now – he doesn’t much care for abroad either, it turns out – and wonders if it wouldn’t be the most obscenely preposterous idea for me to actually join him on one of these never-ending Russia trips. Imagine.
Right, I’m off to drink myself senseless.