The other night a bunch of us caught up. And while everyone was flush with sun and rest, there was this one couple in particular. This one couple in whose shadow the rest of us could but pale. I couldn't take my eyes off them. Almost incandescent, her breasts rising ripely from her dress, his chest coiling and uncoiling under his T-shirt, it was as if their clothes could not quite contain them. What is it, I asked her, cramming corn chips and guacamole into my eager mouth. What is it about the two of you? You're practically smouldering! She gave me a small, coy smile. We've been trying that 365 thing, she said. Oh, I said, that.
American author Brittany Gibbons and her husband had sex every day for a year and then she wrote about it. I'd read about her undertaking and thought that while it sounded quite tiring, it also sounded quite sensible. In the same way that tyranny engenders rebellion, sex, even just average-scratch-an-itch-kind-of-Tuesday-night-sex, begets more sex. I'm not sure how exactly I know this, but like I know blue cheese goes with pear, I just do. However, life has a tendency of coming between you and your good intentions, and looking at my friends, at their secret mantle of sauciness, I thought: I need to get me some of that.
As luck would have it, my husband and I had been invited to an open-air cinema event the following evening. As luck would also have it, it was the day Cyclone Fehi struck. Surely it'll be cancelled, said my husband. C'mon, honey, I said, where's your sense of adventure? We can huddle together under a blanket. Hmmm, he said. At noon they sent out an email. Postponed. Shall we cancel the babysitter, I said, peering unenthusiastically out the window. Nooooo, cried our daughter, who I suspect loves the babysitter more than she does us. I went on flicks.co.nz. If we see The Post, I said, we could get a quick bite to eat beforehand, and then have an icecream at the movies for dessert. Fine, he said. But, I said, it's not on at the right time at St Lukes, and it makes sense to go there so we can try out that new Asian fusion place in Kingsland. You decide, he said. Could I have some input, I said.
I don't want to make a decision, he said. There's that tapas bar, too. Would you prefer Spanish or dumplings? Honey, he said, please.
We were the only ones at the restaurant. The chef placed our manchego on the servery while he cooked the tomato bread to accompany it. As I watched, a fly happily did its thing on the plate of cheese. Excuse me, I called out. Can you … I made a shooing motion. My husband patted my arm. During the movie an older couple behind us kept up a running commentary. It was 65, she said. No, he said, I'm sure it was 66 the first American troops went to Vietnam. Shush, I said. My husband stroked my thumb. At home one child was pretending to be asleep; the other was pretending not to be on a screen. How was Uber Eats, I asked? It was terrible, they said. We couldn't eat it. We ordered two mushroom pastas, explained the babysitter, but we got two chicken. I actually bit into it, said my daughter, and I still feel sick. Did you complain, I asked. We didn't know what to do, they said. My husband paid the babysitter. I rang the restaurant. We send new pasta, said a rude man. It's 9.30pm, I said, my children are supposed to be in bed, I don't want pasta, I want a refund. Why not just pick out? Because they're vegetarian, I said. You have talk to Uber Eats. Could I have their number then, I asked. You have look it up. I searched the app. Googled it. I rang back. There is no number, I said. I want a refund. The rude man sighed, went away, came back with a 0800 number. I rang, explained. That's terrible, said a very nice young man. Let me sort this for you pronto. Yes, I said, doing a fist pump as I walked into our bedroom. I got it, I said. I got the $34 back. That's great, honey, said my husband from the depths of his pillow.