Unromantic man 2/3

By Drum Digital
05 November 2013

Palesa is fed up with the lack of romance in her marriage. She longs to be swept off her feet...

Unlocking it, she stepped outside and was greeted by a late afternoon breeze. Whenever she was upset she took a stroll. Walking calmed her down.

“He’s supposed to be my best friend. How could he treat me like that?” Palesa thought as she walked along the street, struggling to hold back the tears.

“You’re overly sensitive,” her younger sister always said. Was she being too sensitive now? She decided she wasn’t.

Palesa soon found herself at her favourite coffee shop which had a lovely garden in front. After greeting the owner, Jenny, she sat at her usual table, near the large window from where she had full view of the shop and garden. She appreciated the waiters’ efficiency and friendliness. In no time she was enjoying a piece of chocolate cake and sipping a decaffeinated coffee.

She liked sorting out her feelings before going home where she knew Stan would apologise profusely. Sometimes Palesa wondered if her husband’s apologies were ever genuine.

While she replayed their exchange in her mind, a couple who’d just entered the coffee shop caught her attention. They appeared to be in their mid-fifties, around her parents’ age.

Palesa forgot about her coffee as she admired the newcomers. They looked like teenagers experiencing their first crush.

Although they sat at a table hidden from most of the other patrons, Palesa could see them clearly. The man had the woman’s hand in his and she held a large bouquet of flowers. The scene reminded Palesa how Stan never held her hand in public. When pulled out a chair for her. “What a perfect gentleman,” Palesa thought. “If only Stan could do that.”

The more she observed the couple, the more she felt that her marriage was a failure; a deceptive front. She admired their silent communication. The man spoilt the woman with his love. Palesa couldn’t help envying them. Had she made a mistake marrying Stan? Could she bear to live the rest of her life trapped in a cold marriage?

When his wife had not returned after two hours Stan began to worry.  “She loves drama,” Stan thought. “Funny, the way she gets upset over nothing.”

His wife had recently adopted the habit of putting him in a corner by asking him difficult questions. Stan saw himself as a loyal husband who provided well for his wife. It had been a mild shock to hear her doubting his love for her. Because he truly did love her.

“So what if I don’t buy stupid flowers and a lifeless teddy bear,” he said to himself for the umpteenth time.

Like his father, Stan wasn’t the type to demonstrate his feelings. He’d never seen his father hug his mother or hold her hand in public. Stan had learnt that expressions of endearment weren’t for public display. He wasn’t a romantic and didn’t understand why some women wanted men to buy them flowers and chocolates. It was a waste of money. A practical man, he’d recently bought his wife some useful presents: a toaster, a cookbook and a food processor. Presents she’d somehow not quite appreciated.

“Am I a bad cook?” she’d asked sadly, as she paged through the brand-new cookbook that she’d never use. Even back then she’d said she wanted flowers or a teddy bear. To Stan all these demands seemed childish. Buying a teddy bear for a grown woman? Eish.

Until now, Stan had never taken his wife’s demands seriously, dismissing them as frivolous. He’d not seen the need to buy her roses or to take her out for a meal – wasn’t their fridge full enough? But as he watched his wife’s face just before she’d gone out, something had scared him. Not only did Palesa look hurt – she also looked distant, like a stranger. Did she look like someone ready to give up? “Empty.” Stan recalled the words Palesa had spoken before she’d gone out. What a strong word to use. He wondered what she meant by it. Was she implying their marriage was loveless? Did she doubt his love for her? Could it be that her love for him had diminished? Was this marriage doomed to failure all because of teddy bears and flowers?

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