Nora Ephron, Reclaimed Furniture and Advanced Entomology.
I was on the underground last night, on my way to see my friend Alison for drinks, when a married woman opposite me spotted my copy of Nora Ephron’s ‘Heartburn’.
“Oh! I just bought that this morning. My friend recommended it to me.”
“It’s great.” I replied. “I just finished it this afternoon. You’re going to love it. I cried at the end”
We sat and spoke for a while. She had her daughter with her, who was obviously attending one of the private schools in the West End, and I discovered that they were heading off to New York after a birthday party on Sunday.
“I’m really excited about reading it now.” She said as they got off at their stop. “Bye.”
“Goodbye.” I replied.
I imagined that she wasn’t off to New York for a family holiday but was actually going over for an affair. She would be leaving her daughter with a friend who had an apartment overlooking Central Park whilst she met a talk-show host in a hotel room, possibly still wondering who the mysterious bald man with the copy of ‘Heartburn’ was on the Glasgow tube.
“I can’t give you the copy of ‘Heartburn’.” I told Alison in the pub.
“Why not? I was looking forward to reading it.”
“I think it’s making me attractive to married women on the subway. I think it gives the impression I’m sensitive and mature.”
“It performs miracles?”
I like Alison. She always knows when I’m in need of a glass of wine, normally because it’s when she needs one too.
“But you keep saying I should meet someone.”
“But not married women on the underground. Have you not just finished three years of therapy? Besides, middle-class married women are a nightmare. They’re insane. Have you not heard of ‘Brieing’?”
Alison then told me about ‘brie-ing’. ‘Brieing’ is when bored, sexually frustrated married women from the suburbs meet up for wine and cheese in the afternoon, although with either speed, MDMA or ecstasy mixed into the brie. They sit around looking respectable whilst secretly getting off their tits. Essentially it’s hard drugs and soft-cheese with the Prestwick set.
“I had no idea.” I said. “Besides, I don’t want an affair. I’m looking for love.”
Although by now Alison had become fascinated by a business card that had been left on our table. The business card belonged to someone called Bob and Bob specialised in “Bespoke Reclaimed Furniture”.
“Is it the furniture that is ‘bespoke’ or the reclamation itself?”
We couldn’t figure it out. We were confused and, presumably, so was Bob.
“Besides,” she continued, “You’re not ‘sensitive and mature’. What about those spunk eating beetles behind your sofa?”
I had forgotten I had told Alison about that. What happened was this –
It was last year and after a particularly explosive therapy session I had decided to embark on a period of personal growth I could only describe as “rabidly quixotic”. I would attempt to turn myself into the perfect bachelor: I gutted my flat, cleaned, started cooking, regular laundry, exercising etc. If I met someone I really liked then every single aspect of my life would be able to be held up to the closest of scrutiny and not be found wanting. My life, my flat and my conscience would be completely clean.
I would not bother with women or dating and simply work on myself. However, living a monastic life working on myself also meant I was spending time “working on myself”, if you get the idea. What this meant was that there was one blind spot in my flat and that was my wank-sock pile. Normally this is sorted on a pretty regular basis but I had noticed that there was a layer at the very bottom that had not been sorted in many, many months.
“Why not?” Alison had asked.
“Because I hate those socks. I never want to wear them. They don’t stay up properly and keep falling down so I just left there to rot.”
Last month I decided they needed dealt with. They were the only dark spot in my existence. Getting some gloves I tentatively moved them when…
“… all these insects came swarming out from beneath them!”
“Tell me about it!”
“You think you’re sensitive and mature and you’ve got beetles eating your cum behind your sofa?!”
“Hey! I had no idea beetles ate semen! Did you?”
“No, I had no idea beetles ate semen.”
“But you’re a Doctor! You’ve got a PhD! How could you not know this?!”
“My PhD is in jazz, not cum-munching insects. Why would you think I would know this?” She explained.
“I did higher biology and this was never mentioned once. If they had I would have been prepared. And it’s not behind my sofa, thank you very much.”
“How many of them were there?” She’d asked.
“About five in total. All different types as well. It was quite the little ecosystem.”
“Do they think you’re their god?”
“Look, if you’re not going to take this seriously then I don’t see why…”
Despite her laughter Alison was very supportive of my predicament.
“And you thought you’d make good husband material?”
“Right now I’m now sure what sort of material I’d make. Maybe ‘biohazardous waste’.”
“What is it with men and their wank-socks?”
“Don’t turn this into a gender issue ‘flannel girl’. I know what you women get up to.”
We drank more wine. Fortunately the World Cup was on so our cries of “semen feasting beetles” were suitably drowned out.
We walked to the underground, I got on my train and Alison took my photo. On the way home a number of things went through my mind — How had I got so drunk so quickly? Did Bespoke Bob reclaim beetles? Would Nora Ephron have thrown a cheesecake at Carl Bernstein if she’d found out insects had been eating his semen and, if so, would she have written about it?
I guess we’ll never know.