You know how when you get married there are one or two guests at your wedding that you had never met before and never end up meeting again? Well, for me and One Little Bird (OLB) – one of my husband’s friends from his uni days and one-time housemate – we were that person for each other for nine long years, especially since neither of us thought to get married again in order for our paths to cross. Oh, and living in different countries for most of that time probably also played a part.
Then last weekend, we finally met again with our husbands and assorted children at the beach with slightly uncertain expectations – at least on my part. OLB had herself the advantage of occasionally reading my blog in the interim years (she’s my rarely-mentioned fourth reader) so she would have definitely been expecting a harried-looking woman in unironed clothes barely maintaining control of her children or her bladder. I, unfortunately, was worried that I wouldn’t recognise her without her wedding dress on but was reassured by the fact she would be accessorized by her sister Jools, with whom I’ve had the fortune and pleasure of meeting numerous times outside of “smart casual dress” occasions.
But there was something else – some other, entirely self-induced expectation in the air. In the car on the way to the beach, I had found myself singing “First we take Manhattan… then we take Berlin” for no apparent reason. This little musical interlude was then followed by a short monologue about how I was pretty certain that it had originally been a Leonard Cohen song and how there’d been that 80s cover version by a female singer, but who that singer was I could not remember for the life of me.
“OLB or Jools might know”, my husband suggested, either because he had no idea himself or was hoping to put an end to the conversation. “Or even Mr D.”
All we knew about Mr D – OLB’s husband – was that he had resumed his studies since returning to Australia. “Perhaps he’s doing a degree in musicology at the School of Rock”, I said hopefully.
“Or at least doing a thesis on songs that contain the word ‘Berlin’,” added my husband.
“I wonder how many songs *do* mention Berlin,” I mused.
“A hundred?” guessed my husband. “Certainly enough for a PhD.”
That was certainly heartening news – not just because I might get the answer to my question but also because those hard-earned tax-dollars (of my husband’s) might still be funding such Important Works.
But in all the excitement of meeting up on the beach with everyone and me cracking all the “Why aren’t you wearing your wedding dress?” jokes (my, how we laughed), I never did get to find out A) what Mr D was studying or B) the answer to my question (at least not at the time – thanks to the power of google, I now know the singer to be Jennifer Warnes but, quite frankly, it would have been much more exciting if Mr D had simply handed me his leatherbound PhD and said “The answer to your question lies within”.).
And for the record, I totally lost sight of my children at least four times on the beach and ended up sitting in a puddle of cordial and so at least maintained the illusion that I had lost control of my bladder. And thus I neatly lived up to any expectations OLB might have had of me after all these years – just like that! You see, I do so hate to disappoint.