Sunday, April 06, 2014


Marcia doesn’t want to leave her little dog. She hugs him to her breast so tightly his legs splay sideways and his eyes bug out. Still, he manages to cheat just enough room to turn his head and liberally lick her mouth. Marcia tips her head back in delight.
‘You be a good boy till I get back,’ she says as he squirms in her embrace. ‘You be a good boy. Don’t worry, Pippin. Mummy be back soon. Yes she will.’
The dog – a Papillon, apparently, some expensive cross between a spaniel and something else, a chinchilla, maybe – a tremblingly alert creature with dark lines under his eyes like he’s wearing Kohl, or not sleeping nights.
‘I wish I could take you with me,’ says Marcia, giving him one last squeeze, then plumping him down on the duvet and waving him off in the direction of her mum and dad. ‘Use the rest of that chicken,’ she shouts after them. They hurry out after the dog to get Marcia’s things ready.
‘So the doctor said for you to go into hospital on the phone?’ I ask her.
‘He didn’t like the sound of my head.’
‘Have you had it before?’
‘Yes. But not like this.’
She dabs a handkerchief under her right eye, and takes a steadying breath.
‘Sorry,’ she says.
‘That’s okay.’
‘A couple of other things I think you should know.’
‘Go on.’
‘Well, just lately my saliva has seemed thicker.’
‘Yes. I don’t know if it’s significant or not.’
‘Okay. Anything else.’
She looks down and starts twisting her handkerchief, like she’s wringing out the tears. Then she takes a long breath in through her nose, lets it out through her pursed lips, looks straight at me and gives me a brave smile.
‘It’s my lady time.’


Anonymous said...

Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh! One of those patients where you bite your tongue trying not to say something inappropriate...

Spence Kennedy said...

I know! It's the kind of thing you can't imagine anyone saying outside of Little Britain. A great euphemism, though. Up there with 'Aunt Irma is coming to visit' or 'Flying the red flag' ... :/

jacksofbuxton said...

I've heard various euphemisms over the years.Best not type them here though,family show and all that.

Spence Kennedy said...

In fact, I'd say there are probably more euphemisms for 'period' than almost any other bodily function.

Helen said...

One I heard recently was 'the commies are in the funhouse', told my sister who misheard and being the kind of people we are our phrase that pays is now 'the collies are in the funhouse'...

Spence Kennedy said...

That's brilliant!

One I misheard a little while ago was 'fist pump' which I thought was 'fish pump' (and still do). So whenever I make that victory yes! sign, what I'm actually thinking of is some important electrical kit in the aquarium.

Anonymous said...

As always - totally enjoy reading your posts. You're able to capture both scene and character with such clarity and freshness. Wonderful!

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks very much, Anon! :)

Cassandra said...

One that I heard when I was younger and TOTALLY didn't understand (not that I misheard it, I just didn't get it) was that "Aunt Flo was coming to town/paying a visit". My mom finally explained it after a few years. (This from the woman who told me incredibly inappropriate sex jokes at a tender age and then waited until I was more mature to explain the meaning. *sigh, shakes head* My family… It's no wonder I turned out how I did LOL)

Spence Kennedy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spence Kennedy said...

Another one I heard recently was 'closed for maintenance' - which is pretty harsh. But I'd even prefer that to lady time.

Families, eh? Tsch. They f*ck you up, your mum and dad...'

Each generation trying to avoid the mistakes of the last, but inevitably passing on their little twist on things. (I wonder what mine are..?)

BTW - I had to delete my first effort at this comment because I screwed up the html.. :/

Cassandra said...

Hah! That's great. Love it. It's true, too… so very, very true.

Also, "closed for maintenance." That is perfectly apt, when you consider things from a perfectly biological standpoint. I don't think "lady time" works because I, as a literalist, consider EVERY DAY to be my lady time. I'm a lady, time is passing… it's mah lady time!

Lady time… would that be similar to Lady Luck, then?

Spence Kennedy said...

Mah lady time. You should say that with a banana daquiri in your hand, smoking a cheroot and sitting under a frangipani tree (although I know what you're like with alcohol, so maybe not).

Lady Luck? Lady Time? Lady what? *faints*