Harmonious living is the highest and most difficult of Arts

It is possible that we learn the Art of harmonious living

through our mistakes, if we are taught by them.

In this long, and often painful, learning process,

cultivating virtues in our character is a must.

Applying common sense in every situation always helps.

This ultimate ART is our mission in this life!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Lisa’s Baffling Love Affairs

It was during her two-month unpaid leave back in 2004 that 22-year-old Lisa had bought a small two-bedroom flat under construction, as a holiday home, in a coastal suburb of Malaga, Spain. In June 2005 her flat was ready and Lisa looked forward to spending August in Spain, but not alone. At that time she was madly in love with John, a guy who was employed by the same advertising company as her. John was entitled only to a fortnight’s leave, and so he would return to London two weeks before Lisa. They flew to Malaga on the 1st of August 2005, and had a fantastic time together. John never stopped thanking Lisa, often saying, “What more can a guy expect from a bird?”

Upon her return to London, a fortnight after John had left Malaga, Lisa was in for a great shock. On the following Saturday they were both invited by Dr. Hughes, the managing director of the small company they were working for, to a garden party at his beautiful villa in Wimbledon to celebrate his 50th birthday. John had found an excuse to go there separately, and Lisa saw nothing wrong with that. She arrived there first, and was warmly greeted by her boss, who wanted to know all about her holidays in Spain. Since Dr. Hughes already knew about Lisa’s love affair, she mentioned to him that John had joined her in Spain, and that he would arrive at the party later.

While they were still chatting with each other, John turned up at the garden door, but not alone! To Lisa’s embarrassment and bewilderment,...
he was escorting a young blond lady, and they seemed to be very close to each other. John avoided greeting Dr. Hughes and settled in a corner with his new (or old?) girlfriend. Lisa went pale and shaky. Mrs. Hughes noticed this and sat by her trying to comfort the betrayed young lady. On his part, Dr. Hughes limited himself to some angry looks toward John. Being the host, he wouldn’t risk doing more than that. Lisa tried to compose herself and not explode in a scene of jealousy that would spoil the party and harm her image. In retrospect, she wondered how she had managed to restrain her anger and not become as mad as a bull in a china shop.

On Monday at work, John and Lisa were like two strangers. Dr. Hughes called Lisa into his office and talked with her: “I know how humiliated and hurt you felt on Saturday night. I must congratulate you for your decent behavior, Lisa. You are a remarkable young lady. Please tell me, is there anything I can do to make you feel better? Would you, perhaps, like me to have a word with John on your behalf?” “Oh, no! Thank you so much for your kind offer, Dr. Hughes. I appreciate your concern, but I have nothing to say to John,” said Lisa, and she added, “That chapter of my life is definitely closed.”

Dr. Hughes went on asking her politely: “Do you believe you can still be happy and effective in my company, knowing that from time to time you will have to sit at the same table, working side by side with John?” “Coming to think of it, my answer is ‘no’! So, I guess, I must leave your company, Dr. Hughes”, said Lisa, while wiping a tear that was running down her cheek. “You know how I appreciate your excellent work here,” said Dr. Hughes, “but under the circumstances, either you or John must go.” “I understand,” said Lisa. “I suppose it’s me and not John that must go…” Dr. Hughes made no comments on her subtly bitter remark, and offered to help her in finding another job; but Lisa thanked him all the same. She was paying a dear price for learning a hard lesson: never to form a relationship with someone working under the same roof.

Lisa made every effort to forget John and start a new life, but, alas, the worse for her was still to come. A few days later she sensed some unusual changes in her body, and so she went to see a physician. When she completed all the tests, she was told that she was pregnant! “Oh, my God!” exclaimed a frightened Lisa. “What am I doing now?” To share the good-bad news with her parents was out of the question. They lived in Edinburgh and being very puritanical they would be upset and worried. So she decided to talk with her friend Mary, the only person she could trust. Mary advised her to go for an abortion. “I have done it twice so far, and it is not such a difficult thing to do. Don’t worry, I will come to the doctor with you,” said Mary. Lisa agreed without second thoughts. Moral principles didn’t concern her at that time. Nor was she aware that abortions always carried certain risks. When the gynecologist had finished his ugly job, he advised Lisa, “You must be careful with your relationships. Abortions can leave you barren.” These words kept ringing in Lisa’s ears. She longed to be a mother, albeit within a happy marriage. She only hoped that this first abortion had not damaged her uterus, and she promised to herself never to have another unwanted pregnancy.

During the following weeks Lisa experienced an emotional crisis. She felt guilty and depressed. She was now beginning to realize that by having an abortion she denied a helpless human embryo the right to be born, the right to life. But it was too late for tears. She blamed John, she blamed her friend Mary, and she also blamed the doctor who did not advise her against the abortion. But primarily, Lisa blamed herself. She had learned to always take full responsibility for her actions. She ought to know better; she shouldn’t have been panicked. And, yes, Lisa dared to think she ought to have prayed about it, although she had stopped praying about anything for the previous five years. With a broken heart and heavy spirit, she now occupied herself with searching for another job. When she eventually found one, she threw herself diligently into working so as to have no time or energy left to think of anything else. She worked overtime everyday ‘till the cows came home’, as the saying goes.

However, after a while Lisa found this way of life monotonous. She was lonely, and she felt the need to fall in love again. So she made an effort to start going out and, sure enough, the ‘devil’ was around the corner. Her new prince was charming Malcolm, a 30-year-old psychologist, whom she met in the local pub. As soon as their eyes met, Lisa felt that warm tingling in her heart, and she knew there and then that this man wouldn’t be a stranger for too long. Her feeling was verified shortly afterwards, when Malcolm approached her and asked if he could offer her a drink. “By all means, thanks,” said Lisa with a meaningful smile. Malcolm returned with the drink, and without wasting any time he started courting Lisa openly. His voice was sexy and his manners gentle, and it didn’t take long for Lisa to feel Eros’ fiery arrows piercing her heart. They met three more times before Malcolm asked Lisa to have a full sexual relationship with him. The guy confessed to Lisa that he was very fond of her and that he couldn’t wait to make her his own.

“Oh, you seem to be in a hurry,” said Lisa, and she added, “We hardly know each other. However, let me tell you right from the beginning that I am only interested in an asexual relationship, i.e. a platonic friendship. You see, I have been let down by a man and I ought to protect myself. In fact, I have even promised myself that I would not sleep with a boyfriend before marriage. Now you know where you are standing. Take it or leave it.”

“Marriage? Talking about marriage to someone you have met only a few days ago?” asked Malcolm.

“Oh, no! I didn’t mean marriage necessarily with you. I meant marriage with the man whom I will consider worthy of being my husband, whoever he might be.”

“Please don’t think that all men are the same. I am different. I have a great respect for ladies. And I promise never to hurt you.”

“Yeah! It sounds familiar,” said Lisa. “Nothing new under the sun… Anyway, I will stick to my decision. Are you interested in a platonic relationship with me, then?”

“Well, since you put it that way, I have no other choice. I don’t want to lose you now that I have found you, sweat heart! I will be patient and wait until you become mine – heart and body!” said Malcolm.

“That might take a long time,” Lisa answered. “I don’t mind, gorgeous! Would you like to have another drink?”

“A soft drink, please. Perhaps an orange juice, if this place has fresh oranges.”

“I am sure they have. I know it, as I have been here before.”

“Alone?” asked Lisa. “You shouldn’t care if I come here alone or not, since we are just friends. Aren’t we?”

“Of course I don’t care. I was just asking out of curiosity,” said Lisa, trying to convince herself to stick by her decision.

As it turned out to be, the following outings with Malcolm were hilarious. Lisa, in an effort to guard herself against being pregnant again, at times behaved rather cynically. And Malcolm grew more and more frustrated. Nearly every time he went to Lisa’s home to take her out, he was conspicuously aroused to the point of being embarrassed. However, Lisa had no mercy on him. “I worry about you, dear,” she said to him one day. “Can’t you control your sexual drive? Most probably you have been watching a lot of pornographic stuff… I bet! Suppose that we were in a public place; what would people think of you?”

“They will assume that I am a frustrated man because my girlfriend doesn’t love me enough, ” said Malcolm.

“Come on, dear! Don’t put it that way. This has nothing to do with my love for you. It only has to do with my justifiable decision not to have sex before marriage. I have explained all this to you before. Can’t you see my point? But I suppose there is a way out for you…”

“Let me hear your suggestion, Lisa. What is it?”

“How can I put it? I am embarrassed to talk like this, but I cannot see another way for you to relieve yourself. I am sure you know about onanism.”

Malcolm felt humiliated. He became angry and left Lisa’s place on the spot, banging the front door behind him. To her surprise, however, the next day he was back there to apologize!
“Lisa, excuse me about yesterday. I shouldn’t have been so upset with your suggestion. I had second thoughts about this, and it seems to be a ‘solution’ until you are ready to sleep with me, princess!”

“You mean until we are married,” said Lisa, and she added, “This way is safer, as there would be no unwanted pregnancies, and no danger of AIDS! To be honest, Malcolm, as most men jump from one mistress to another, I cannot be sure who you slept with yesterday, or even a week or a month ago. From bitter experience I know that condoms are not always reliable. So I need to be on the safe side, you see.”

“I agree with you on that, dear,” Malcolm replied. “How about having anal sex from time to time? This will exclude at least the danger of pregnancy.”

“Having ‘anal’ what? Say that again, if you dare!”

“I am sorry dear, I didn’t mean to offend you. There is also the alternative of oral sex. I assume as adults we can talk about these things openly,” said Malcolm.

“No! I am afraid I cannot consider any kind of sexual perversion whatsoever”, Lisa answered angrily. “You knocked at the wrong door. The anus is a canal through which solid waste is eliminated from the body. Nothing more, nothing less! To use it as another hole for sexual penetration is perversion. It is unnatural, and as such is detrimental to one’s health. Regarding oral sex let me remind you that our mouth is assigned for higher functions. No dear, there is only one natural ‘hole’ for sexual penetration, and before you enter my holy ‘hole’, you must become whole in character,” said Lisa while playing on words. “By the way, have you ever heard of the biblical story of Onan, whereby it is implied that the spilling of sperm, if it’s not intended for reproduction, is sheer masturbation, which is considered a sin? I just thought to let you know.”

“Wow!” said Malcolm. “What am I supposed to do then? Is there any way out for me?”

“Marriage is the answer”, said Lisa.

Strange enough, in spite of the occasional quarrels over sex, Lisa’s platonic relationship with Malcolm went on without major problems for about five months. Malcolm was living in Bristol during the weekends, in his parents’ house. During the week he stayed in a rented bed-sitter in Harrow, Middsex. He used to write passionate love letters to Lisa and occasionally romantic poems, and gradually but steadily Lisa was falling in love with the fellow. Occasionally she even felt guilty for not having sex with him. But she ought to stick by the promise she had given to herself.

One Saturday in April 2006, Lisa had an unexpected visitor. It was about ten o’ clock in the morning when the door bell rang, and Lisa’s landlord, who was living in the ground floor flat, told her that she had a visitor. Lisa looked down from the top of the stairs and saw a young woman with a fancy hat holding an envelope in her hand. “She must be from Salvation Army asking for money,” Lisa reckoned. But before she had a chance to say ‘hello’, the young woman was fast climbing up the stairs. When at the top, she handed the letter to Lisa, who recognized her own handwriting on the envelope.

“What is this?” Lisa asked.

“It’s your love-letter to my fiancé, Malcolm,” the woman answered.

“Are you telling me that Malcolm is your fiancé?”

“He certainly is! We have been living together in a house we jointly bought in Bristol for the last seven years, and we are planning to marry soon.”

“Is that right? But your lying fiancé had told me that he lives in Bristol with his parents. Thanks for opening my eyes to the truth, anyway.”
A few moments of silence followed, before Lisa opened her mouth again. “Well, if this is the case, you can keep your fiancé. I don’t want to have any association with a liar. Tell him not to bother me again,” said Lisa with calmness that amazed even herself.

As the strange young lady was walking downstairs, Lisa felt nauseated and empty. She had no emotions to be manifested. She could feel neither anger, nor sorrow; neither bitterness nor relief; just emptiness and a long silence in her mind. She walked around in her lounge for a while, as if she were hypnotized, doing nothing. Later she managed to compose herself and go to the supermarket for her weekly shopping.

On Monday morning Malcolm came round to speak to Lisa. “Let me explain to you, my love, how the situation is. I know you had a strange visitor last Saturday, but I must talk to you.” “You have a cheek! Get out of my sight, right now,” said Lisa in an indignant manner. “I don’t want to hear a word from you. You are a liar, a cheat and a womanizer. I am so glad I did not have sex with you. That’s about the only thing I got right since I met you.”

It was the first time that Lisa had become so enraged. But she had reached her limits… It would take her a long time to overcome the distrust towards men and start contemplating about another platonic relationship. Gradually but steadily she turned to God for consolation and guidance, and hesitantly she joined the local Evangelical Church. She thought, “If I stand a chance to meet a man of high moral principles, it will be there, in the Church. Where else?”

Oh, no! Lisa did not want to become a religious fanatic. She believed in God but did not accept certain far-fetched and hostile to logic Christian doctrines and myths. So, she kept an open mind, and whenever she read the Bible she did it always with a critical disposition and without preconceived ideas, trying to separate the ‘meat’ from the ‘bones’ therein.

From now on, all she hoped and prayed for was to find a man of a kindred spirit to make a blessed family. Unfortunately, this too, proved quite difficult… But Lisa was not prepared to make any compromises, nor could she become a hypocrite and hide what she believed. It would take three more years before Lisa attracted the man of her dreams. But it was worth waiting patiently for him!

Copyright © 2007 by Maria Seferou