Zoo

‘This fucking house is like a fucking zoo,’ she tells him, on what feels like the 900th day of the summer holidays, as she hoovers up cornflakes from under the sofa.

‘Less than a week to go,’ he tells her, ‘we’ve got this.’

She feels bad that the start of the school term can’t come round soon enough. She loves her kids, really.

‘If this house was actually a zoo,’ he says. ‘What animal would you be?’

She barely hesitates. ‘A panda.’

He laughs. ‘Really? I’d have you down as something fiercer. How come a panda?’

She looks him straight in the eye. ‘Cuddly,’ she says. ‘Cute.’ She pauses. ‘And barely ever fucks. Like us.’

‘We fuck!’

‘Not during the school holidays.’

‘That … that is true.’

‘Did you know,’ she asks, ‘that they think that one of the reasons pandas in captivity have so little sex is because they can’t get any privacy, because they’re being watched the whole time? And that’s kind of true for us, too – if it’s not one of our kids hanging around, it’s one of a million visitors … my mum, your dad, all the friends the kids have over for sleepovers. I can’t even pee in peace, let alone fuck.’

‘Well, I’m sorry you feel like a panda,’ he says. ‘I really am. But even pandas get it on a few times a year, I think, so maybe our day is coming.’

‘God,’ she says, ‘I hope so.’ She sighs. ‘Anyway, if I’m a panda, what would you be?’

He thinks for a moment, then laughs. ‘A lion,’ he says.

‘King of the animal kingdom, huh?’

‘Well,’ he says, ‘that’s part of it, sure, but I was thinking about the fact that the men last roughly 15 to 20 seconds. Which, given how long our dry spell has been, is roughly how long I expect it to be for me, too.’

 

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