Libertine

Just back from France, I was physically living in my usual niche of the EU. The rest of me, however, was still south. I was functioning in lowest gear and slowly picking up speed. Stress, hurry, quick, fast, urgent? Such notions had been deleted from my dictionary and diary.

This resulted in me missing my public transport connection. No problem during the rush hour, but I managed it during the early evening, when public transport materialises about once every 30 minutes. If you’re lucky.

Walking home via the supermarket would be faster than waiting. So I sauntered past closed shops, open bars, busy restaurants, while humming a French song about “amour”. I crossed the square with its church and row of various small restaurants, one of which is Knossos.

Outside Knossos sat two women on a low brick wall; drink in one hand, cigarette in the other. As I neared, I heard they were chatting in a foreign language.
It was not Greek. It was not English either.
Drawing closer, I was able to distinguish more.
Suddenly, I recognised sounds, rhythm, words: they were chatting in French.

As I passed, my ears caught a few phrases:
“… comme il dort avec toi, – avec moi, – avec nous, – il dort avec tous … “
“Mais oui, …”

I was shocked! It took an effort to pretend I’d not heard a thing.
With difficulty I continued unfalteringly on my way to buy vin, pain, Boursin – though my head must have turned tomato red.
Meanwhile, my brain was digesting the French:

“… like he sleeps with you, with me, with us … he sleeps with everybody …”
“Yeah, …”

No need to read three novels on shades of grey! No need to watch Nymphomaniac! No! All you need is missing a public transport connection and you land in a scene with limitless possibilities of interpretation.

Which he? Who was he? Did I know him?
What did they do? Did both ladies … alone, together? What else?
Who else? How many? What, where, when?
My brain was in overdrive. How very French and what a shame …

What are you thinking?
The nerve!
No! What a shame I don’t smoke, of course!

Otherwise, I could have stopped to cadge a cigarette and could have struck up a conversation. Then all my questions would have been answered – after offering an Ouzo or two, maybe three.
And then you and I would have known, who is living a libertine life here!

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