An almost silent whisper spread about the shops and an instant electric energy crackled about me. I heard a briefcase shut somewhere behind me and I watched the woman with the pink nails quickly stub out her cigarette and duck back into the clothing shop. The hawkers sing song stopped and I looked up to see two municipality people walking in my direction. I continued to study the beach shoes on display and hoped that Rebecca and Dolores wouldn’t be shut upstairs too long. A quick glance at my watch said it was eleven thirty. I needed to collect Ollie from school just after two. With traffic as bad as it was in Dubai these days it meant leaving from here by one thirty at the latest and Rebecca had planned on lunch together. That might not happen.
I went in the store and selected the required tee shirts all the while keeping my eyes open for what was going on outside. I watched the crisp white of the dish dashes walk into the shop next-door where the lady with the pink nails had fled. Of course it probably wasn’t the woman from the plane. I mean why would she be here in Karama in a shop that sold belly dancing skirts and wooden camels? When I saw her last she was in a channel suit with a sleek bob so why would I think that this woman in tight jeans and stilettos was the same woman. My mind was clearly working overtime. I stepped out into the sun and to pick up what was being said in the shop while I tried to admire the carving on a camel’s hump.
I could hear them speaking Arabic. My eyes widen when I realized that the woman was fluent. I felt a tingle of excitement that I couldn’t explain but that quickly withered as I realized they were exchanging pleasantries about the weather. I watched them shake hands and the two men in white walked out of the shop. The woman slipped into the back room.
I put the camel down and jumped as a hand fell onto my shoulder.
“Mum’s in the car. We got out in time? Did you managed to find the Man U shirt for me or should I pop in next door?”
“I’ve got it.” I was willing my heartbeat to return to normal.
“Great let’s go get some lunch. We won’t be able to do any more shopping here today.” Becca looked to the two figures retreating into another shop. I slowly followed her to the car. What was wrong with me? I was imagining all sorts of crazy things and the reality was that it couldn’t be the same woman from the plane. Tomorrow I would make an appointment to have my eyes checked. I turned one final time to see the woman standing out in front of the display of camels and I could swear she was looking at me.
“That was a close one.” Dolores smiled at me from the front seat tapping her heavy blue plastic bag.
“Yes.” I nodded my mind still with the woman. “Where are we going for lunch?”
“There’s a great restaurant in the new hotel by the Burj Dubai.”
“Is it open?”
“Yes, and they’re doing a cracking business lunch including a glass of wine. Just what you need.” Becca manoeuvred out into the traffic. Did I need a glass of wine? I didn’t think so but I needed some thing. Two days until I hit the big 4 0 and my life was a mess.
I looked to the ever growing tower as we approached. There was no way you would ever get me to the top of it. At about 630 metres and growing daily the soon to be tallest building in the world looked impressive. The outside skin was being applied and I could see that it would become a thing of beauty but just looking up on that great height gave me the willies.
“How did you find this place, Becca?” I asked as we walked through the new souk.
“Oh, you know I heard there was another shopping area opened so I had to check it out.” I nodded. Becca knew all the best spots. She prided herself on it. I swear she could write the dream shoppers guide to Dubai - if you needed something she knew where to find it at the best price.
The restaurant was still quiet as most people ate a bit later than twelve but this gave us the choice of the best table with view of the growing Burj. I took the seat with my back to it. I couldn’t bear to think of all those men working that high off the ground. I would never be able to eat viewing the service lift cling to the outside. I was a wimp supreme.
Before long I had a large glass of white wine in front of me. I knew this wasn’t a good idea but a ploy. I had protested that I needed to drive later and Becca said that she had to do school pick and ski Dubai too so she would abstain and I could drink. Did I look that in need of a drink?
“Samantha, when was the last time you and Tom had any couple time?” Dolores looked at me over her wine glass.
I nearly choked on my first sip. “What do you mean?”
“When did you last go away together?”
“I don’t know. Maybe four or five years ago.” Becca leant back and watched her mother. I was wondering what had happened to the sweet and polite lady that was in the car earlier.
“How is your sex life?”
This time I did spew my wine. Did she just say what I thought she said? I looked around to see the waiter hovering closer.
“You heard, Mum.”
“Yes, dear, how is your sex life? Does it exist? This can cause so many problems at this point.”
My head was spinning. I looked at Dolores’s neat white hair combed elegantly back behind her ears and wondered if I was hallucinating. “I have a sex life or did until recently but I’m not sure where you are heading with this.”
She nodded and took another sip of her wine. “You are coming up forty and your sex drive is gearing up. It is a wonderful decade but it normally coincides with husband steep climb up the ladder so his drops or he looks for excitement else where thinking that you won't provide it. Men get it so wrong so many times. Herein many a problem occurs. You want more he has energy for less or he wanders.”
I blinked. Becca was sipping her sparkling water as if we were discussing the weather. This was her mother talking about sex and not just any sex but my sex life.
“So, my dear are you having any sex and is it satisfying your needs.”
I swallowed and then took another large sip of wine while I hoped the starters would appear soon. That waiter hadn’t moved, the sod, and I knew I needed to say something.
“Well, we haven’t had any sex since the last fight about a week ago but when we did it was good.” I hoped that the confession would put the bloodhound off.
“Once a week is not going to be enough. Was it a quickie or did you take time with it?”
Shit, she wasn’t letting go. I thought back to the last time and it was fast and furious and good. A smile crossed my lips and I saw the waiter hover closer. This was bloody embarrassing. I felt like we were discussing me having an illicit affair and not my sex life with my husband.
“Dolores, I don’t think sex is the problem with Tom and me.”
“It is always there around the periphery, dear, if not the central problem. If it’s not sex and by that I mean what you are having or not and with whom, what do you see is the problem then?”
I leaned back in my chair. Was I making more out of the problem with Tom and me? Was sex the problem? Or was it something less interesting and more difficult to address? Maybe I should just focus on the sex.