Thursday, January 24, 2008

hammam

I know all you Mums out there will say “You Wait!” so before you do, I shall say that I am waiting. We are both waiting very patiently! The dossier is almost finished for the French Adoption Agency….

Meanwhile, on the day of our pre-dress of Don Giovanni, after two hours of hysterical phonecalls with URSSAF who keep on gouging thousands of euros out of our bank account without warning or explanation, and taut as an E string, I decided to visit the local hammam; a luxury I know I will not have as a Mum.

“It’s clean isn’t it?” the owner said brightly, her breasts lounging in her lacy bra and her stomach toppling over her large knickers.

I had been alone and covered with soap for about half an hour. I wasn’t sure the woman would ever return to give me the ‘Sheherezade’ treatment so, after I had meditated and done a few yoga stretches, I had gone in search of her. I looked at the fossilised gum in-between the tiles, and the crusts of savon noir around the taps. “Yes” I said.

While I lay on the table waiting for the treatment, she plunged a dirty sweater in and out of the low tiled basin she was to use to scrub me down. She was singing. I decided if she was happy doing her laundry, so was I. I inhaled the smell of the soap and went back to Fès in my imagination while she finished off.

Then she was leaning over me, her breasts dangling in my face. “It’s marvellous, isn’t it, the gommage?”

“Yes” I said, twitching under the thrust of the glove careering all over my body.

“Are you married?”

“Yes”

“Children?”

I decided not to go into the adoption thing. “Yes”

Ten minutes later I was on the massage table hoping to give my continuo shoulder some relief.

“It is good, isn’t it, the massage?” This time she was sliding her hand roughly across my spine hard in the wrong direction, tweaking one ankle and rubbing one calf in a different rhythm. A vat of argan oil slithered over me.

“Yes” I said.

After seven minutes, she said. “OK?”

“Yes” I said.

“OK” she said and swiftly returned to the shop where laughed manically whilst discussing something – me? – in Arabic with her colleague.

“Tea?” she asked, peeking her head round the door. She had her robe on now, with one nipple poking out where it was worn, for all of Batignolles to see.

I was already dressed as there was no sign of the mint tea and pastries included in the exotic formula so I was on my way out. “Yes please” I said.

I felt strangely marvellous.

On the RER train I received a text: ‘It looks like I’m going to be a Mum after all!’. My friend and colleague from Glyndebourne, having also mourned the loss of a biological child, is adopting at the same time as us. At 45 and 48 we will be Mums together!

I arrived at work (where the running joke is RER C, Aria, 1, Aria 2, (etc till Aria 24) RER C again) at 5 for a pre recit pre dress recit rehearsal. By eleven o'clock, as we played the last chord, I felt something I’ve never felt before. Could it be the onset of tendonitis? Clearly the Sheherezade treatment did not work.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Freya said...

Next time try the Medina Center in the 19th - it really is clean.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Dale said...

Oy. Such patience you have!

7:50 AM  

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