“She’s such a girl with a variety of tastes,” my aunt whispered loudly; and I knew she was talking about me. That was what I heard when I eavesdropped on her conversation with my mom as they unpacked the many suitcases she brought from London. I had stood closely enough to hear their private conversation, but the topic at that moment, was about me. “She shows respect and is growing up nice.” my aunt continued, “Thank God she not prime*.”
It felt good when I heard what my aunt thought about me, but I left my hiding place a bit disappointed. What I really wanted to hear, were the secrets they spoke in confidence, and any naughty jokes they shared.
“Ah right, she gone now.” mother said to aunty. “What a girl want fass into big people argument!”
“Whoi!” Aunt Jess laughed out loud. “That’s how to do it.” she said. “Anytime they come nearby, just change the conversation and talk bout dem instead.”
“So tell me wha Rosie did sey again?” mother said. “That joke did well and sweet me.”
The two had been chatting away ever since my aunt arrived the day before; and I had become obsessed about finding out what they discussed. “What on earth did Aunt Jess say that caused my mum to laugh so much?” I asked myself, I really wanted to find out. It had been quite a while since my mom had such belly-fulls of laughter. As the sisters chatted through the night, you could hear my mom’s laughter echoing through the entire house, it even outdid the mating calls of the croaking lizards. Her laugh was happy and loud, it was the kind of laughter that made your belly hurt; the kind that made grandmothers’ false teeth fall out. I loved laughter.
But what my aunt said about me set the course for my life, and I embarked on an adventure to develop a variety of tastes . . . from cosmetics, to clothing; career paths, and cuisines; I had experienced and enjoyed different cultures, and more. I believe that it was this trait that caused the attraction between me and my husband; he loved variety, and of course, the way I made him laugh.
Over the years, we successfully operated a business, had a family, and spiced up our lives with monthly visits to various plays to get our belly-fulls of laughter.
“You all, are my world.” My husband said to our children and me. “I couldn’t want a better wife and family. Is not many men lucky like me at all.” He looked at me, and I smiled at him.
“Fi we life is just like “sugar and spice and all that’s nice!” then he snapped his fingers. I loved it when he did that. But one day, all that changed, and it was the afternoon when my husband discovered that I had a skeleton in my closet.
That skeleton was my affair with Sherri Bowman, an American woman who was one of my early morning walking partners. She had recently become my lover and what we experienced together was addictive. I knew that I was not bi-sexual, but I participated in various sensual activities with Sherri since she brought a new dimension to the variety that spiced up my life. With her, I felt differently, like an astronomer on the quest of finding new galaxies to explore.
“Ah what dat unno a do?” my husband shouted at us, when he stumbled upon us doing our ‘lovey-dovey’ antics. Sherry quickly prepared to leave, and while she was leaving he shouted some more, “Yuh so lucky that me don’t own a gun.” And spinning around he searched about and said ” A wey de cutlass did put down in this place?”
“Shuss!” I said to him, and hissed my teeth. “Is nothing we did a do. Is nothing serious at all.” But he rolled his eyes at me and said,
“I know what I did see, and it wasn’t pretty!”
After my husband discovered my affair, he went through a series of stages. At first he was shocked, then hurt, then very angry.
“Imagine all along I thought you and that woman were just best friends.” he said.
“The signs were there as plain as day.” I said. “And you know jolly well that I had hinted to you about this several times, but you just laugh it off.”
He was silent.
“I’m even sure other persons must have given you clues about what was going on between Sherri and me.” I continued.
“Don’t call that woman name in this house!” He shouted. “I must be a damn fool!” He added. “Love really blind fi true.”
After many sleepless nights, my husband looked haggered and distraught. To me, it would have been better if had gotten drunk and slept it off, but as a medical doctor, he did not abuse alcohol.
“Let’s go to the Family Life Centre for counselling.” he suggested.
“No sah!” I said. I could not think of going down there to tell my business, especially since two of our good friends worked there.
“Okay then,” he said. “Kick that witch out of your life for good.” And he was dead serious.
Later, when he angrily gave me an ultimatum to end the affair, I silently scoffed at him. “Who me?” I asked myself, “Why should I do that when I’m a woman with a variety of tastes? Ha! Me not doing that right here now.”
Later, he threatened to divorce me so that he could start his life all over again, but I know he would not do it; we had come too far together. In my mind’s eye, my husband and I were united like two citrus trees that were entwined as young saplings, whose tender branches had been plaited together to become what seemed to be one tree; we would forever embrace each other. Our closeness and involvement with each other, had make it seem impossible for us to separate; and divorcing each other was unimaginable. In the final analysis, I decided to have my cake and eat it too, and so I refused to part company with Sherri.
That decision put a strain on our marriage; and like a stuck record, my husband complained again and again that the affair made his life very hard, and tough to live through.
“This is unbearable man!” He would say, “What you doing mek me sick. O Lawd man! A wha kind a way you a live Joan? You mek my life more bitter than cerasee tea!”
Then one day, with his finger pointed at my forehead, he forcibly pushed me backwards onto the bed and said, “Because of that woman, our life is like sugar and spice and all that’s NOT nice!”
After the shock, hurt, and anger subsided, the next stage my husband embarked upon, was revenge.
“Listen to me good, Joan.” he started, “If you have your woman, then I’m going to find a woman for myself too.” and he was serious. As the months went by, he tried to find that other woman with whom to have an affair; and initially, I was jealous. My husband joined the dating scene, and had meetings with various different women, but he did not enjoy it one bit.
“This is nonsense!” he said to me one night. “The whole dating thing is a complete waste of time.”
“Why so?” I questioned.
“Joan, I can’t believe the kind a woman dem out there these days,” he started. “They are all users. Damn gold-diggers dem! And dem so fickle!”
“Eeh heh!” I said.
“Oh Lawd man! Dem stress me out with dem problems dem. Dem dey baggage wha dem ya woman dem have, come in like a millstone; it would drown any man!”
“Whoi!” I laughed out loud.
“Joan, but suppose you see how some a dem dress; and the amount a makeup dem paste on their faces, dem ugly so til! As a matter of fact, some of these women are very ugly . . . both inside, and out!” Disgusted and turned off, my husband eventually abandon his quest, and avoided all the women he dated.
Then late one evening, while we ate dessert, he bluntly said,
“You know, what I did was stupid. You really can’t fight fire with fire,” and then he paused and looked at me. “So I know what I’m going to do.” He continued, “I’m simply just going to put an end to it all.”
“Oh?” I responded, but that was all I could say before I felt a sharp pain to my right side. “Was it a gun shot?” I thought “No. I did not hear an explosion. Then looking up from the ground, I frantically asked him, “Are you going to kill me, and then kill yourself?” But before he could respond, I cried out in agonizing pain. “My hip, my hip! It hurt so badly!”
You know, I can name on one hand, the number of persons that had accidentally fallen and broken their hips; but in my case, it was my husband who caused the fall that broke my hip.
“That woman cannot have you. No never!” he said in tears, as he drove me to the hospital that night. We both cried, and in the midst of the tears and pain, I became very sad.
“Look at what my foolishness caused.” I thought, “Why did I allow it to end up like this?” Grimacing in pain, I felt hurt about what my husband did to me; and as we drove along, I thought of the words I would say to tell Sherri goodbye.
The hip replacement surgery was successful, but I walked with a slight limp; and as the years passed on, we ‘sort of’ forgave each other. But the tension in our marriage was building up, and seemed likely to explode on any given day. Almost everything was a painful reminder of what happened; and our relationship, like my hip. which acted up now and then; was artificial. Oh how I wished we could fix our lives, like how the doctors had fixed my broken hip.
I had joined a church, and that was a new kind of variety in my life; I began appreciating Sunday morning sermons, as well as the singing of hymns, they gave me peace. But there were many moments when I sat alone on the garden bench and reflected on our past. And in the cool of the evening, with crimson-like poinciana blossoms falling all around, I thought to myself: “Things did fall apart, didn’t they?” I looked at my artificial hip, and remembered the monster my husband had become, because of my infidelity. My stubbornness, and strange variety of tastes had truly made life bitter. Sigh!
Since that awful night, I had become a different person; I was no longer adventuresome. I had tried to “re-invent” myself to become a person who did not have a variety of tastes, and that took time. You know, I’ve never told anyone the truth about the fall that resulted in my hip being broken; not the doctors, not my children, not even my siblings. My broken hip was a constant reminder of my foolish decision, and my husband’s cruelness; and because of Sherri, we both became persons who we were not.
I’m taking it one day at a time, but what I truly wanted was for my husband and I to be happy together again; I wanted us to trust each other once more; and to laugh, unrestrainedly. Oh how I longed to hear him say those words again, and to see him kiss his fingers afterward. Why was our life still ‘sugar and spice and all that’s NOT nice’?
We went for counselling sessions, we went to plays; but the laughter in our marriage had died.
“Pray harder.” a friend said to me, and I did. Then one day, my husband joined me in prayer,
“We can’t continue being miserable like this,” he said. “Oh Lawd man! A suh we going grow old and dead?”
That was the first step on our journey of recovery; it always takes two persons who wanted to make their relationship work, to bring about restoration, respect, and trust. Then apart from going to plays together, we went to church; and after we fully surrendered to being obedient to the Lord, he healed our broken marriage, and bound up our wounds.
Then one day, while driving home from church, my husband said,
“The sermon was good today Joan.”
“Yes.” I responded. We chatted some more about various things, and then he said again.
“God still has the resurrection power to put life in any dead relationship.” he paused, and then as we drove on some more, he continued “God is really good fi true, he surely can turn it around for you, if you let him.”
I nodded in agreement.
After we drove in our driveway, my husband stepped our of the car, he stretched out his arms and said,
“Yes man! Fi we life is just like “sugar and spice and all that’s nice!”
“Thank you Jesus.” I said to myself. “He said the words I wanted to hear so much.” I smile and looked at him; my husband and I were happy again; and I was there right beside him when he snapped his fingers, after he said those words. I’ve always loved it when he did that.
From that moment onward, our lives were filled with belly-fulls of laughter, and we laughed and laughed, like how we did in the good old days . . . the kind of laughter that made your belly hurt; the kind that made grandmothers’ false teeth fall out. Then, one night after supper, when we were listening to a music CD, my husband said to me,
“Joan, dance wid me nuh?” and when I leaped into his arms, I forgot everything about my artificial hip.
This is a Jamaican term used to describe children who are presumptuous, feisty, and rude for their age group.