Obligatory "ignore this space" : https://sacoronavirus.co.za

It doesn't need to be said that the world referred to in a storybook is not the same as this one, even when the story is about peas and carrots and ham and cheese.

It is an irksome thing to be told that vegetables don't taste like they used to, but that is a gross generalization.

One particular book tells us that romantic love is not the greatest of loves, but we seldom hear that sentiment echoed, and could only vouch for it if we wind back a few months, before we started unwinding things which amount to unspoken facts about this world.

In a book, a man might be stricken dumb at the mention of a woman's name, and seem to grow weak as he sits where he was standing, and in fiction it is unlikely that he will be given suggestions as to what he aught to have done differently yesterday which could have prevented today's feelings.

It can also happen that a man who hears from women, regularly, that all women are the same, might find himself drawn away from his hobbies and onto religious matters that he would the rather have left unsaid.

Though this is not a book, and the word this reminds us of the teaching of object oriented programming, which mostly lends itself to word games, by creating a supposititious scenario we already have a fictitious character, so we merely suggest that where the man sat down were a small number of steps as one might find in houses not built all on a level.

Being fictitious characters themselves, the company do not get themselves into a panic about the man's wellbeing, and retain a respectful silence in the hopes that he will manage to gather his thoughts sufficiently to explain himself, or otherwise excuse himself.

Significant looks were passed, particularly between the women. The men in this gathering were there only for their wives, and looked about the furnishings of the rooms--which were elegant and gave awkward people things to contemplate for as long as it would take for an author to name his characters.

'Love didn't give me happiness. It took it away.'

'Nonsense! Have some brandy and you'll feel better.'

'Wait, Martha! We know he'll drink himself silly and then he'll shut up. Possibly for years.'

Alice had fetched the thermometer thingie but Martha gave her a look, so she swallowed the word regulations. Susan had begun to expound her theory that love was the animated Universe, but Martha interrupted her.

'Harry, you've lived your life alone these twenty-five years we've known you, and we've sometimes said to each other you seem more happily married than any husband.'

Here she looked at Susan who was clearly mulling a new theory; with which look the theory was swallowed and chased down with the figurative rolling paper, on which the word regulations was written backwards. This being a story world, Harry knew he now had the floor, knew that he wasn't going to be told his communication skills are inadequate for the telling of such stories, and wasn't going to have to refer to that which underneath clothes is to be found, in order to be believed.

'I can't tell you where the beginning is, but it's easy to know where to start. This was a time when the word perfect had been banned for being a cheesy compliment, but it applied to the comparison between how I felt and the word itself.'

Here he looked at Martha who had a smile playing across her face. 'It sounds like you've had a better honeymoon than most,' she said.

'That's just it,' he went on. 'I had a good excuse to be where I was every day: things to busy myself with, and friends to talk to. Come to think of it, I'd find it an awful chore to have to sit on the beach for two weeks. But I couldn't call it a honeymoon because only one friend began to suspect love was in the air, for me, weeks after I had lost all other interests.'

'And you didn't marry her?'

'I can only say she willed it such, Martha. And I didn't want anything more than she was giving me. I had shelved the word superficial as being somewhat of a shallow concept. In any regards, I was not hiding from myself that I got up every morning wondering what the serving wench would be wearing that day.'

'A serving wench?' - this from Susan and Martha, while Alice just mouthed the words.

'She was not the kind of girl who would allow prevarication upon the matter.'

Susan was wiser than Martha and knew that qualifications had precious little to do with skills. 'Your generation made a big fuss about wives who did nothing but keep the home, didn't it?'

'Quite so. The only qualification she could think of getting wasn't available around here. I gathered many years later that she did qualify, but that news came with the information that she had closed her heart to me.

'I had led the separation by leaving town, as I subsequently led the idea of moving on, with others.

'The details are difficult to remember, and I do wish it wasn't important. Before I heard about her new love, I had a word with her mother, who seemed to indicate to me that forgetting wasn't what she'd do.'

But he now led the conversation onto other matters which have present relevance.

Alice, who had been attentively listening, now looked at the thermometer thingie in her hands, which her mother's brother told her no-one in the world understands, and recalled him telling her how logbooks had become obsolete long before it became important to have a thermometer which circumvents the possibility of contamination, and recalled a boy telling her how logbooks could be circumvented if people only stuck to standards, and then, with her thoughts drifting to jokes about anatomy classes, the words dropped from Harry as a favourite saying of his, while he was talking about the joys of bachelorhood, which recalled her to herself.

'Love--Romantic Love--is the notion that innate relationships can be fueled in an error-value of time to dimensions that split our feelings in two.'

Not being one to leave the floor open to cynics, he caught Alice's eyes, and possibly her breath too, with the last coherent thing he said that evening: 'more simply, love is just contamination.'