A COUPLE OF SWELLS

by Ross Sharp

I know two people, a couple, I’ve known them for as long as they’ve been together, which is roughly ten or twelve years now, and they’ve been married for the last six.

He was about thirty when they met, and she was about thirty-seven or thirty-eight.

There’s nothing significant about that age difference, they simply clicked as people, and if you knew them both, knew them both as a couple as I have, you’d know why.

Shortly after they got married, when he was about thirty-five and she was pushing slowly toward forty-five, they thought they would try for a child.

Nothing happened, so they tried IVF.

It didn’t take.

They tried it again some months, maybe a year, later.

Nothing happened.

And so they left it at that, and got on with the rest of their lives.

As they still do.

We shared a flat together for many years, the three of us, and I caught up with them both recently, spending a day and a night at their home, eating, drinking, talking about this and that, life, work and all that that entails.

She opened a shop on the NSW central coast around this time last year, selling clothing and jewellery and various homewares, quite nice stuff, no two-buck mass-produced “Made in China” shit. This is something she had always wanted to do, and I remember her telling me as much many years back when we were all living together, and now she’s done it.

And she told me over dinner that, even though she had only paid herself about twenty-thousand dollars in wages over the last year while doing it, she felt about two-hundred thousand dollars richer.

I suppose the poor dear simply doesn’t know what she’s missing.

Perhaps somebody should tell her.

My friends watch very little television, they don’t read tabloids or “lifestyle” magazines or give a rat’s arse about Oprah or Dr. Phil or this columnist or that expert, study or survey and such, and so they are quite unfamiliar with the insinuation that they may somehow be “lesser people for not having had children”.

For they seem perfectly content with their lives and with each other, and, as I know them well and have known them for so long, I feel that this is the truth of the matter. They are content. They enjoy their work, but do not “live” for it. There does not seem to hover over their heads an absence, a missing component, a sadness at what others may insist they do not have which they should have, and isn’t it all terribly unfair, “have you thought of this?” or “have you considered doing that?”.

No. None of that.

At one point while I was with them, just hanging out in the backyard, the woman said to me, “You know, I’m quite glad we didn’t have children. I think it would’ve really fucked up our lives”, and she said it without any rancour or bitterness, without any tone at all that may have indicated some dark lump of twisted dire had festered  within her soul over these past few years and had given her cause to seek justification for things that need no justification.

No, that was exactly what she meant to say and she meant it, and it is a truth.

After which, she then suggested to her husband that if he were looking for something to get her for Christmas, she’d really quite like an angle-grinder as she tends to enjoy farting about with tools on various projects and pieces of furniture in the backyard.

I suspect there may be quite a few men around who’d be rather keen on a wife whose gift wishes could be solved with a quick trip to Bunnings once or twice a year.

I know he has no complaints.

And neither does she.

No …

“We would sail up the Avenue, but we haven’t got a yacht
We would drive up the Avenue, but the horse we had was shot
We would ride on a trolley car but we haven’t got the fare
So we’ll walk up the Avenue
Yes, we’ll walk up the Avenue
Yes, we’ll walk up the Avenue till we’re there”

These kids are alright as they are.

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