Ladies who Lunch

I’m not the sort who lunches very often. I generally don’t enjoy it and it always takes away my time which needs to be focused elsewhere. Yesterday I was asked by my neighbor to lunch because her Mum was in town, and it was asked in a way I couldn’t refuse – bummer. So for one day, I agreed to be a lady who lunches.

We’re living in a resort-style complex while we try to work out what the fuck we’re going to do with our lives, and it’s attached townhouses – three up/two down – it’s perfect for now but we can’t wait to get out. Anyways, we’d been here a month before our neighbors finally spoke to us. It was their boat that got smashed up by the twister I witnessed and the letter I wrote ensured the insurance was paid. They were appreciative and we got our first delivery of chocolates.

Then there was a box of chocolates for Halloween, a bottle of champagne for letting them use our garage for their garage sale, and the thoughtful little neighborly gifts kept coming. The lady of the house, who I’ll call Delilah, is an incredibly sweet and thoughtful woman and she’s PASSIONATE about cooking. And boy, can this woman cook. She turned up to Lex’s 4th b’day with a platter of cheese sticks, homemade of course, beautifully wrapped and presented. She really is a lovely giving person.

Delilah stood off us for a long time as I said, but now she has befriended us, saying we’re the best neighbors she’s ever had – amazing considering the hubbub that must come from our quarters. She’s a very strange lady tho. She doesn’t speak with an Australian accent – it’s kind of a posh international accent that doesn’t win many favors around these parts – I think it’s just too weird for most Aussies. She dresses the same every day – pressed white shorts, a polo-ish shirt tucked in and belted, and she’s always donning Italian loafers that she buys on holidays when in her husbands’ home country. Delilah wears too much make-up and in her own special way is perfectly quaffed at all times.

The thing that makes her extra strange is she is very tall and VERY VERY skinny. You know sometimes the way people look makes it hard to look at them? She is one of those folks. I don’t know why she has taken to me – maybe my time in Singapore endears me to her because she spent her teens there – but she does like me for some reason. I also know why I like her – she’s sweet, nice and even though she’s strange, there’s something in her that’s very endearing – I can honestly say I’ve never met anyone like her, and that appeals to me immensely.

But Delilah is intensely lonely. I just know that most people stand right off her because she is so strange to look at and listen to, and I know that she isn’t the sort of person who’s ever had that best buddy to fall back on. She’s replaced the lack of company with ambition, focus and a relentless drive to improve herself. Hey she speaks six languages!

Delilah is 48 and married to an Italian Australian of 63. All of their friends are in his age group and she looks older because of this. He’s been married and had kids before and they hate her. She can’t even go to her dying mother-in-laws bed because of the hatred. Being a step child, I wish I could say to them grow up, accept your “step mother” because your Dad has decided that she makes him happy – it’s time to get on with it. The relationship with her “step kids” is ugly and ostracizes her even more. It makes me feel sad.

But yesterday I meet her mum. The first thing I notice is the teeth – my word, that woman needs braces. I’ve never seen so many teeth bunched up in someone’s mouth. She lost everything 10 years ago, and four years ago she lost her husband who couldn’t cope with losing everything. They’d always been rich, now she’s on a single pension and cleaning other people’s toilets to make ends meet. She isn’t bitter by life, but I didn’t feel too much joy either. She wants to find a man and I hope she does. Everyone needs company.

As Delilah was dashing away to get the homemade cheese, homemade bread, homemade pickles, and everything else that was yummy and homemade (except the salad dressing, which was surprisingly in a bottle), Mum told me her story. And she told me Delilah’s story. When Delilah was 15 she was offered a scholarship to UWC in Singapore and her mum knew that she had to let her go and take advantage of this opportunity. However, once Delilah left, her Mum said that was the last time she saw her little girl.

Delilah came back anorexic and 30 years later, she still is. Her mum worries about her every day and I wonder how anyone could suffer for so long from such a debilitating disease and can’t even imagine what’s going on inside her head and how she perceives herself. Imagine 30 years of anorexia? Imagine the state of her bones? Her overall health?

I asked them both if they were living the life they thought they’d be living at this point in their lives and both of them said no, but you’ve got to keep fighting. Delilah recently lost her job too – she’s feeling very lost as her career has been almost as important as her husband. She never had kids because of her career and while I can’t imagine her frail body being able to carry a child, it made me feel sad that here she was, directionless and unemployed, because that has been the core of her identity and her reason for living. Once again, life has shaken her up but I know she’ll find her way. She’s got determination that one.

It just goes to show that you never really know anyone’s story and I didn’t even get half of it! The best we can do for each other is to be open and accepting. That’s all I’m trying to do, much to Steve’s despair every time I bring a wounded soul home. At least this wounded soul isn’t a victim looking for someone to help them out of their pit of despair – she’s doing great and I admire her for that. Prefer my shoes though!

Yours, without the bollocks

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