My mother always told me off for eves-dropping on other peoples conversations. “It’s very rude,” she’d say whenever she caught me listening to gossipers in the supermarket, or in the doctor’s surgery.
“How can you stop yourself from listening?” I asked her, with the innocence of youth.
“Well….you just don’t – that’s all,” she replied. Which, made less sense than telling me not step on the cracks in the pavement, just in case I fell through. Even so, I tried not to listen, but the harder I tried, the more I heard, and the more I remembered of what was said.
So here I am sitting in a corner of the hotel cafe, and there they are, two tables away. Of course I feel mildly guilty about ear-wigging on their conversation, but I was fascinated at what they were saying, especially since it was on the very subject that a certain husband of mine and I were discussing less than a week ago.
These ladies probably thought there was nobody near enough to hear what they were saying, that the one person who might have, was wearing pink earphones plugged into a small lap-top.
The ladies who lunch were sipping tall glasses of Pimms, and had nibbled their way through three iced buns; two cream cakes and four scones heaped with lashings of thick whipped cream and oodles of strawberry jam.
“I’m surprised you aren’t incubating a rug-rat yet,” said Mrs A, using a knife to slice her current bun into five equal pieces.
Mrs B wiped icing sugar from her bright red lips with her napkin. “You make them sound like vermin,” she replied.
“Oh, they are vermin, believe me. They drink your youth, steel your vitality, thicken your waist, make your breasts sag, keep you awake at night, and eat up all your money. And that’s before they reach the age of five.”
“But you’ve already had three of these blood sucking vampires, and there’s another one on the way. Why in God’s name do you do it to yourself then?”
“Only goes to prove that I know of which I speak,” replied Mrs A, picking out a current with her long bright pink fingernails. “If you have to fuck, don’t forget to take the anti-baby pills every day, or make sure he puts it in a bag. And as soon as you can, send him off to get a knot put in his tubes.”
Mrs B sipped her drink. “Why did you have so many if they’re such a burden?”
Mrs A sighed heavily and looked critically at another bun. “I’m a victim of my hormones, that’s why. I’ve got too many of the ‘got to be mummy’ juice in my blood. The problem is, I absolutely, fucking love being pregnant. From the moment I take the test and it comes up positive, all the way through morning sickness, the tiredness, the swelling breast and the expanding belly- it’s the absolute best, most fulfilling time of my life. It’s what happens when the damn thing pops its gigantic head out of my vagina that the trouble starts.”
“How many more are you going to have, then?”
Mrs A stroked her swollen belly affectionately. “This is the last. He says we can’t afford any more, so he’s going to have the snip next month. If I could just be pregnant and not give birth I’d be more than happy.”
He’d had that broody look in his eyes for a few days, and I’d known that before long he’d have to come out with it. We had made love and were in that cooling off period when the evaporating perspiration makes the skin feel slightly cold.
“I can’t keep pumping sperm into you and have nothing to show for it,” he said half jokingly. “Mother is beginning to think that one of us is barren. Especially since my infinitely fertile sister has just announced that she’s swelling with her second child.”
“This is so sudden,” I said, looking theatrically astonished at the talk of children. But it wasn’t sudden at all. The topic had been coming up every four or five months for about three years.
“Times a ticking,” he continued, taking hold of one of my breasts and weighing it. “We don’t want to be too far into our dotage when the grand-children come along.”
“Grand-children…..? I haven’t gotten used to the idea of children yet.”
“I know your career is important to you, sweetheart,” he went on, continuing to weigh my breasts, “but biologically speaking, only one of us can incubate a child. My job is done when the sperm shakes hands with the egg.”
“I am a romantic. I made you dinner and lit candles and provided wine and chocolates and flowers last night, didn’t I?”
“Only because you wanted to rip off my clothes and tie me up, and have your wicked way with me.”
“Tie you up? Who’s talking about tying you up?”
“You mean I bought all that red silk rope for nothing?”
“Don’t get off the subject.”
We’d carried on talking around the subject for another fifteen minutes, until I noticed that playing with my breasts had caused his penis to wake up again. Men are so easy to get of the subject when their cocks start doing their thinking.
Of course I know that I was going to have to listen to it all over again, when his mother and sister came to visit at the end of the month.