The sun streams into a kitchen the size of Ethiopia. A svelte lady, the size of a wardrobe, is ‘dancing’, moving gracelessly but very nearly rhythmically, to the music coming from a state of the art Bluetooth-amp’ combo’. And as one of a bevy of staff prepare the customary coffee for ‘the lady of the house’, she continues to agitate her mass enthusiastically, more or less in time to the rhythm, give or take a few beats.
In several of the other rooms and chambers, each the size of a normal family flat, a veritable army of uniformed cleaning staff beaver away. There is a conspicuous lack of conversation.
In one of the master bedrooms, noises indicate that the occupant of that room, the occupant of that most grandiose of outsized beds has awoken. The occupant is a man no longer in the first flush of youth by a long chalk. Groaning, he throws back the covers and lies for a few moments, examining himself in the mirrored tiles affixed to the ceiling. Putting his spectacles on, he takes his belly in both hands and manipulates the pasty flesh bomb into different shapes, giggling at the distorted forms he sees reflected back. Suddenly the outside world crashes in on his solitude as the lady in the kitchen, hearing the bestest song in the whole, wide world, utters a girlish squeal and twiddles the volume knob, pumping up the volume to the maximum.
The padded doors and sound-insulated walls of the villa, a relic of the family that once lived here – before her grandfather set his eyes on the villa and undertook to make it, and everything the original owners couldn’t carry, his own – prove to be no match for the state-of-the-art sound system.
Aqua’s 1997 hit ‘Barbie girl’, ear-blindingly loud comes clamouring into the vast bedroom.
Sighing, he releases his belly from his paws and swings his legs over the edge of the luxurious queen size bed. Morning has not broken, but been broken, and it’s time for him to start the day.
Neglecting to pick up his feet, a habit he was never broken of, he shuffles off to the en-suite bathroom, the door of which lies a mere few metres away. Turning the taps of the shower, he stands swaddled in the dancing steam as his gaze is drawn, once again, to his reflection in the series of full-length mirrors dotted here and there around the master bathroom. Suddenly struck by an idea, he hurries back to the master bedroom, then turns in the direction of the Southern walk-in wardrobe. It’s here that his maids maintain his summer-wear collections. Northern for his winter gear, Eastern for Spring, Southern for Summer, with Autumnal outfits located within the expanse that is the Western walk-in. In the Summer section, he roots through the multitude of drawers searching for a particular item. With a whoop of joy, he finds it and holds the skimpy garment up high like a trophy. Back he lopes to the bathroom where the steam is such that a button has to be pressed to set the remote-controlled window ajar. Only now can the mirrors reflect the image he’d been looking for. Plonking his personage down onto an ottoman which groans in protest, he awkwardly manhandles the blue scrap of elasticated fabric over his spindly calves and up over his willowy, lissom, tree trunk thighs. Finally, he stands erect, clad in his new mankini.
A present from the wife, his mankini radiates the blue of the European Union, with his package encircled by the 28 stars representing the member states themselves.
Suppressing his disappointment at not having an accurate representation of the EU wrapped around his twig and berries, he takes a deep breath, drawing the air into the top of his lungs, and stretches his shoulders back as he admires his physique in the various mirrors.
Irritation suddenly flares up like a case of hives as he feels the seam of his EU mankini dig in to his perineum. His eyebrows knit together as he frowns, peevishly. He’d told that fat, toothless, old seamstress, the one who’d worked for his wife’s family since the old days that the seam needed fixing. He’d have to urge his wife to get rid of the old bag, even if she was, like the villa they resided in, a relic that remained with the villa when the original owners were encouraged to leave.
Then, remembering himself, he unknitted his brows. He’d decided – guided by his psychologist – that he had to strive to be positive and upbeat, if he was to attract a younger group to his support base. They’d decided on the holistic approach, and he’d made an oath to not allow his temper to get the better of him. With this, as with all things, he was determined to give 100%. Affixing a maniacal grin to his face, he scratched his perineum, relieving the irritation from the badly-sewn seam of his mankini, and inhaled deeply once more. Expanding his chest outwards and upwards, he twisted his torso to the side like his advisors had taught him back in the day when the cameras were an incessant presence by his side, and once more admires his reflection, smiling his knowing smile, the one that makes him look just a tad smug.
Freshly showered, pampered, and clad in what he thinks will appeal to the youth of today, our beta male leaves his suite of rooms and moseys through the misappropriated home his wife inherited, past the army of cleaners, all with eyes cast towards the ground in this villa, full of someone else’s cherished antiques.
He opens with “Darling! Good morning!”, aiming a kiss to the right and left of his resigned wife’s cheeks in turn. Still, it’s not enough, and she turns on him.
“Honestly, do you ever brush your teeth!? You could strip paint and crack marble with your morning breath!”
Piqued, he turns and cupping a hand over his mouth breathes and inhales several times, each time failing to capture either the sum or the substance of what caused his wife’s wrath to descend. Opting to keep quiet, he reached out for his coffee that the old coffee drudge, another remnant inherited with the villa, had prepared when she’d heard him coming. Too late! His wife, effortlessly blocking access to his special coffee, utterly unaware of what was going on behind her imposing shoulders, lazily reached out one massive mitt, completely enveloping his coffee thermos. Before he could stop her, she’d raised the receptacle to her ample maw and had taken a long slug. Time seemed to freeze in the gargantuan kitchen as, mid-draught, she took up where Lot’s wife had left off! Her husband was similarly afflicted, stunned – as he’d always been – by at the turn of speed which his wife managed despite her size. Equally stunned at the speed at which she’d stopped. At times like this she seemed to defy inertia, he thought, smiling internally, but he knew what was coming.
The coffee, his coffee, his special coffee, the one that the multitude of kitchen staff knew was only for him. Even the existence of the distinctive warm drink – that only featured in a hidden contractual clause – was never, ever to be disclosed to the lady of the house. This was on pain of immediate dismissal with no references.
But now, it was too late, the cat was out of the bag. Slamming the thermos onto the kitchen work top with the slightest drop of her arm, and leaving a permanent dent in the stainless steel to boot, she spun around on a sixpence and glared at him.
To be continued...