1st Never Meet Your Heroes

Infidelity is sometimes a timing issue. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about that type of cheating. Who has the time and energy? No, it is those moments when the mind runs free having slipped from the shackles of the endless day to day. What starts off as a guilty pleasure becomes a full blown affair. The fact that it’s shared with millions of others is beside the point. It starts like this: the seatbelt clicks into place at approximately 7:15am and I ease into the traffic at 7:19am. A minute later and I am late for work, a minute earlier and I arrive too early and sit in the carpark awkwardly as my colleagues start arriving and stare curiously through the car window. At 7:30am exactly I flick on the radio, and soon the short introduction gives way to the husky tones of the radio presenter. I won’t tell you her name, because a gentleman never tells, but her voice is enchanting and seductive. I drop my guard instantly. I am Odysseus who has fallen irresistibly for the sirens’ song. I am hardly listening to the content. Her interlocutor seems similarly seduced. He is being expansive, eager to impress and saying more than he should. They are on first name terms and speaking in the shorthand of old lovers I think jealously. He has forgotten his training.

‘Well Clem, the numbers just don’t stack up. What do they take us for, a bunch of mugs?’

He doesn’t notice that he has let the fox into the chicken coop. The honey trap has sprung and the question slips in easily. It takes a moment for him to pick up that there is steel beneath that velvet voice.

‘Speaking of numbers Minister your own modelling shows a blow out in government debt, and expenditure on consultants is a third higher than the projected public service efficiency dividend. I’m no accountant but…’

Like a Hollywood movie, the seductress has turned deadly assassin and her target is dispatched with clinical efficiency. It is thrilling as it is scary. The sonic equivalent of a male praying mantis consumed by the female after mating. He stutters, back tracks, offers ‘context’ but he is caught with his metaphoric pants down. Like a spurned lover he can’t conceal his hurt and withdraws to lick his wounds and wonders how he will win her back. Having claimed her victim, she is quite sated now and her voice becomes genial once again. The next guest has an easier time of it.  The banter is easy going, the questions probing and intelligent; a coffee with friends.

More powerful than any image her voice triggers a cascade of erotic possibilities. The reality cannot possibly live up to my imagination, and why should it? I want nothing which may disturb my enchanted world.

A bus pulls up alongside me one day while I am sitting in traffic. I don’t notice it at first, but its idling engine disturbs my concentration. I look up in irritation. Emblazoned on its side is a huge poster and peering back at me is a middle-aged woman. She is a little on the heavy side perhaps, and clumsily enhanced by the graphic designer, but nothing out of the ordinary. The accumulated grime of countless exhaust pipes has discoloured teeth that were originally an unnatural white. It is clear that the photographer hadn’t quite been able to persuade her to smile convincingly for the camera, a skill that even the most ordinary person seems to have mastered these days. It takes me a long moment to realise that the voice on the radio has finally been given a face. The surge of static which suddenly erupts from the radio sounds ominous. I shiver involuntarily. It is the sound of the veil lifting, of the beguiling silhouette made colour, of the spell breaking. I feel like a vampire that has suddenly been thrust into the sunlight and shrink instinctively before that giant image. In a panic I try desperately to turn off the radio, but instead I hit the volume and now it sounds like that giant image is shouting at me. When I finally succeed in switching it off the bus has moved on. Too late, the damage has been done. I sit in numbed silence oblivious to the horns of outraged drivers. Henceforth there will be no reconciliations, no furtive lapses or make ups. It was the end of the affair.


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