Robin understood everything he needed to know about the state of marriage, or so he thought: for him, being a contented man was a matter of policy. He taught as a lecturer at a minor university and expressed his passion for life through the game of ‘real tennis,’ which is a sport known to very few and likely to remain so.
With his wife of twenty-two years, Margaret, who worked diligently as a teacher at their local school, he embraced a routine where risk was not invited and so it might have continued if his book, “The Secret Life Of Bores” had not become an unexpected success and granted him a profile on the campus normally reserved for those who studied more glamorous topics like photography and estate planning.
Within the privacy of his home, he bonded with his wife while watching television dramas and eating snacks. Sometimes after dark, once or twice a month, the two might meet at a mutually agreed address somewhere in the middle of the mattress and share their cautious version of intimacy: variations where enjoyed, of course, but from a predetermined menu free of the unexpected.
It was as if, meeting at a railway station, they might decide to get on their usual train, but spice the journey up on occasion by having a tuna rather than the usual cheese sandwich.
After all, “less is more” as some wise man said, but perhaps he had a headache at the time. So it might have continued until fame cast a new light on the previously ignored Robin, offering up opportunities normally reserved for the rash, and a number of primitive anarchists.
Andrea, to whom he was a personal tutor, had read the book in its entirety, and here before her every Wednesday was the man who penned those magic lines. I met her, but only through his eyes and heard her speak, but with his voice, as he told me “She talks about the book as if we have known each other always” and other verbal celebrations normally voiced by the misguided. Robin was a predictable man, and surely that would protect him, or maybe not?
One day, I understand, as he sat in his room, Andrea walked in for her private seminar wearing a long coat. Her eyes were full of appetite and interest, we understand, and without a word she let the coat fall to the floor revealing that otherwise she was undressed, before advancing on the shocked, or possibly entranced, object of her admiration!
Is there a door somewhere at the back of the imagination which, if unlocked, can free unknown appetites from our subconscious and release those primitive desires enjoyed by mankind long before the formation of the alphabet?
She moved to touch him as if he were a Stradivarius, valued only by the cognoscenti. As his resolve was challenged and will crumbled, he offered up a desperate commentary! “Is euphoria the path to ruin?” A question he may well have answered for him, but only after he leaves the room!