On the sofa

13 May

– “Would you like a glass of wine? I got a Minervois, 2001!” he asks from the kitchen.
– “Hmmm my favorite. Do you need a hand?” I reply, pushing the door ajar, although I know he will decline the offer. Despite his 6 feet 4 body, he fits in perfectly amidst the pans and spices. Stirring to the rhythm of Marvin Gaye.
– “Go and chill out. It will take a while. Moroccan food is like sex, the slower the better.”
– “Stir fries can be quite tasty too… What are you cooking? It smells delicious.”
– “Scallops with cumin, saffron and ginger, à ma façon.”
– “Hmm sounds like a nice evening ahead.” I say, bringing the wine glasses to the living room.

He soon follows me and makes some space among the red and gold cushions. We sit down. The old sofa offers no resistance. We sink in.
– “At what time do you need to get up” He asks snuggling me closer into his arms. I take a deep breath. He smells like sunshine and argan oil. I love these moments when everything goes so smoothly…
– “I have to be in Baggot street at 9 am for acupuncture. So I guess I should leave around 8.30 to be sure…”
His embrace eases off, just a little bit, as he says “So you’re till going to acupuncture?”
– “Here we go again…” I move slightly away.
– “I’m only asking” He replies.
– “Come on. It wasn’t a question. It was an criticism.” The music stops. I get up.
– “There’s no need to be so defensive! Nobody is criticizing you! I just don’t get it. Why do you spend your money on acupuncture? You should rather go back to the neurologist. You were supposed to go back ages ago!”
– “I won’t!” My voice is louder than I meant to. “If I go back, he’ll put me on some of his new treatment. I know what they are like. They don’t work for me!”
– “Oh that’s true.” He sneers. “I forgot you know better than the neurologist.”
“I know my body better than he does. Yes!” I snap.
– “I’m glad about that!” If it was an attempt to humour me, it fails. I check his CD collection.
– “What do you want to listen to?”
Without looking up, he replies “Whatever you want.”
I choose Buddha Bar and press the button. But I cannot let go.
– “You’ve never tried acupuncture anyway so how can you say it doesn’t work?” “Was that a question? I’m not saying it doesn’t help to quit smoking or sleep better but you have MS, not an allergy!” His turn to get up.
-“Thanks for reminding me. I had nearly forgotten. My tone is still defensive but I try to explain as calmly as possible, one more time. Listen, I tried injections for 3 years. It was a nightmare. I was a zombie. It’s NOT for me! I know it works for some people but not for me. It brings me down. I want to enjoy my life and I cannot do that if I’m wrecked and depressed.”
– “But there are new medicines. Why don’t you at least try?” This sounds like a genuine question now.
– “Why can’t you just let me decide what’s best for me?” I ask.
– “Maybe I just want to help!” His tone has become softer again. Mine too as I reply.
-“But it doesn’t help me! Do you know how often I read about this miraculous cure here and there? I’ve been told: “Why don’t you to go to the Netherlands for this new intervention? Why don’t you try bees’ stings along the spine? Oh I shouldn’t forgot the miraculous remedy with something to do with a sheep… I prefer to look after myself the way I want. I believe in alternative medicine. It’s my health and I want to be in charge. I won’t let anybody use me as a guinea pig.”
– “Mais oui Simone!” He teases me.
– I have to laugh. I take his reference to Simone de Beauvoir as a compliment. “It has nothing to do with being feminist or independent! It’s just that I have grown very suspicious of pharmaceutical companies. There is a lot of money involved in the health sector. They keep announcing that they have found a cure for this or that but I think it’s also a way to bring the price of their shares up…  I’m not accusing the people but I don’t trust the system. But please, I don’t want to talk about all this now. Can we just let it be and enjoy your wonderful food?”

Without a word, he fills up our glasses and we sink back in the old sofa.

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