camparigirl and I were talking about Viggo Mortensen today. Most specifically about A History of Violence in which he is both rather good and rather naked. He is a contract killer and things go horribly and brutally wrong for him and his family. But he still finds time to give his wife a quick tumble on the stairs before heading off to avenge the slights of fortune. “That’s a real man”, we agreed, “they just don’t make them like that anymore.”
Don’t get me wrong, Eddie Redmayne is a good actor, but he looks like a 15-year-old boy. Not sexy at all. Beside, in addition to his hunkiness, Viggo reportedly left Hollywood to live in the wilds of Spain with his girlfriend … impressing us both. Usually it’s the woman making the compromises. What’s more, according to Claudia, Mortensen held his own against a group of Russian mobsters who jumped him in a steam room. “You should watch Eastern Promises ,” she said, “just for that bit. Fast forward through all the violence …. he drops his towel.”
It’s not often we both fancy the same man. The only other overlap has been Bruce Springsteen, and we’ve agreed that should either of us be offered that opportunity in the future, we are to take it with the other’s blessing. Having a best friend who has no interest in your lover is crucial if a friendship is to survive. That and being able to go on holiday together.
“Lets go to Paris”, I’d suggested earlier in the week. “We can take 10 days in late April, spend a couple in London, rent through air b’n’b and just hang out.” The City of Light has never been a favourite of mine, but Claudia loves it and had mentioned it would be fun to live like a Parisienne for a while. For me, it’s easy to get to and there’s food and shopping, so I reckon I could survive. But more than that – I think it is a measure of how desperate I am to get out-of-town. To do something different.
“I can’t”, she said and (impressively) listed her holiday plans for the next six months. Maybe something in the spring? “How about an adventure holiday in Malaysia. We could work with elephants.”
Normally I would be on that idea like a flea on my newly washed and now madly scratching dog. But, frankly, I can’t think of anything worse. I want to do nothing at all. My plan is to be so lazy, I wouldn’t even put on sun tan lotion. A task I hate and one that keeps me in the shade. My five-thousand-dollar-a-night hotel would totally get this. As I walked out of my room in the mornings I would pass through a sunscreen shower and pssst – 30 seconds later I would be covered in factor 40. A quick pffffff from the dryers and I would be on my way to breakfast. It would be the hardest working moment of my day.
For the rest: I would lounge around at the pool – reading from a huge stack of magazines and periodicals (great word) discretely placed at my left elbow. At lunchtime someone would bring me a light but satisfying Asian-inspired meal, and later a cup of chilled mint tea would waft my way, complemented by a sliver of the lightest lemon-mango tart.
I’d tootle back to my room around 4pm, refresh and head to a gentle but perfectly curated yoga class. An hour later I would be out of the shower and into a whisp of a kaftan, a pair of flip-flops and a sprooch of scent …. making my way to cocktail hour. Where the perfectly balanced gin and tonic would glide up, and I would drink it out on the porch, watching the sun slide into a dark sea.
camparigirl would join me for dinner and regale me with tales of her day spent wandering around behind large pachyderms collecting their poop. I would pretend to be fascinated. After supper I would despatch her back to the elephant group’s backpacker hostel – where she would slumber on a bunkbed. Her fellow scat collectors would be waiting up: hoping for a share of the dinner rolls she had hidden in her pocket.
“I would really like to go on holiday and be someone else but me”, said Claudia. “Me too, Wahini, me too”.
(Image of women in diner by Thomas Dozol. Cartoon courtesy The New Yorker.)