November 2, 2009
I wish I could say that I am well-read. I can’t say that and even after 10 years in France I have yet to pick up a book by Camus. I know of something that he said though and how true it is. I know it because it is taped up above the kitchen sink in a friend’s apartment and I sometimes get to do the washing up.
“To misname things is to add to the unhappiness of the world” Camus.
This irritates me for some reason. Just as it annoys me that this is a single-bowl sink and the drying rack is miniscule. And then I read it again and wonder if there is any truth to it? Am I annoyed by the sink or by the fact that I hate doing the washing up?
“I hate doing the dishes.”
“You see?” says a ghost.
I go back outside to join my friends and the conversation turns to Estelle, my friend’s aged mother. She has just called and I know it is her by the way Jean cradles the phone while he goes about doing other things. He carries the salad bowl and 4 glasses through to the kitchen, he puts some scraps out for his cat. He starts to wipe the table down with a damp sponge. Every now and then he says “Ah hah”, or “Is that right?” He puts the kettle on and his hands and face mime the question “coffee?” I nod.
He gets off the phone and says his mother now calls on a daily basis with tales of woe and paranoia. She suspects someone is stealing her money. The woman who helps her with her shopping is swiping carrots. She could have sworn that she bought five and this morning there were only three. She has to tell him so he can come and investigate for himself. So he can come and talk it over with her.
“I am lonely” whispers Camus.
Jean’s girlfriend is in a prickly mood. I ask her what is wrong.
“I hate it when he flirts with Magali at the boulangerie. Its pathetic. Does he know how foolish he looks?” She takes a drag on her cigarette and stubs it out angrily.
“I’m not a possessive person. I just feel embarrassed for him. She is half his age!”
Camus sidles up next to me
“I am jealous and have lost myself along the way. I am jealous that he will find the missing part of me in a girl half his age”.
“How’s the writing coming on?” asks Eric, a talented member of our writing group.
“I’m getting into it, it is getting easier.”
He sighs, and shakes his head. Explaining a joke to himself that only he gets.
“What?” I say.
“Nothing really. Its just I don’t know how you can put stuff on a BLOG”, he makes it sound like I am dipping my hand into a sewer.
“I want people to read my work, I value their feedback”.
“I could never do that”.
“I would love to do that but I don’t have the courage”.
“How do you know that some whacko isn’t going to track you down or might post sick comments?”
“What if no-one likes my writing?”
“I see Olivier’s wife has a new car” says Emily.
“Three liter engine!” She rolls her eyes.
“I may not have money but at least I have taste”.
“I want money, the hell with taste”.
“Its not that I resent people for making lots of money for inventing a plastic widget that holds up ceiling squares but really, they don’t have to flaunt it”.
“I resent people who make money for inventing things I could have thought up if I weren’t thinking higher thoughts. And if I had that much money I would go on a spending spree to end all spending sprees”.
The girls are getting fractious. It is time to go. Ellie puts a necklace on and says
Amelie lashes out at her “Not even true!”
“I need reassuring. I don’t like sharing attention when I am tired” nods the distinguished man in my head.
I pull her close to me and give her a hug.
“You’re pretty too” I say
We go downstairs and as I am walking to the car I see Luc going for his evening stroll.
“Ca va? Luc”
“Oh no, he grumbles. The rain is bursting my grapes. And this wind, this wind is awful. It gets into everything – the hens don’t like it and it is knocking the olives off the trees. Finished. The vines and the trees are not happy. One of these days I am going to rip them all up, save us all the trouble”.
“I am finished. I am old. I am tired. I can’t keep up with the vagaries of the weather anymore. I am waiting for the axe to fall”.
We arrive home and I take the children out the car with some difficulty. Ellie wants to get out by herself but the car is parked on a slope and I have to hold the door open. Amelie sits down on the driveway and says she needs to be carried. The wind is whipping up dust and fallen leaves and all I want is to get inside and relax at the end of a long day.
I run a bath for the girls and Amelie refuses to get in. Ellie is in but screams when I try to wash her hair. She kicks and splashes in fury and I am soaked. Their clean pajamas are also splashed.
Finally they are out and dry. They sit down to eat. Amelie picks up her fork.
“I want the blue plate!” wails Ellie.
She lunges across the table and in the process leans into her bowl of spaghetti sauce. It makes me want to cry.
“Why are you sad?” asks Amelie
“I’m not sad, I’m tired” I say.
“I’m not sad, I’m tired”.
“Malnommer les choses c’est ajouter au malheur du monde”.