His wife told me he had to have his wisdom teeth out and would therefore have to stay at home for a while. She wasn’t feeling too well herself and I promised them a visit, living up once more to my reputation of looking after the poorly.

I hope they didn’t find my visit too exhausting, for I stayed for two hours and we had an animated conversation. They told me about a T.V. programme they had seen, showing that theoretically, and who knows maybe practically, the childbearing capacity of human beings could be transferred from women to men, in the case for example of the woman being infertile and the couple dearly wanting a child. I expressed my surprize at this crave for children and was accused of having three myself. I couldn’t deny it and described it as a crave for physical fulfilment. Besides, it keeps people busy and one gets quite a bit of pleasure out of them. Of course, once they’re there, they can’t be discarded again … However, being young and optimistic, one doesn’t think too far ahead. Johnie thought this was just as well, because what would happen to mankind otherwise? I said : So what! He was surprized now and said : Do you mean our planet circling up there empty? I said : What’s wrong with that? Do you think it would be a great loss? He had never looked at it that way.

Somehow we passed on to the difference between man and woman. Johnie’s wife denied there was any, apart from the biological one. What accounted for the attraction? Just the instinct of procreation? Probably, it was thought. However, once that stage or age was over, Johnie’s wife said, there was little left. Not that she could feel much, what should we call it, sexual attraction when faced with men. Her main concern was that men and women being equal, they should be treated equally. Johnie said, it was there, quite big, in the background and couldn’t be simply talked away. I could not agree more. We quickly decided that there were, of course, differences in people’s make up, different features asserting themselves in different people. Johnie said, a platonic relationship between a man and a woman didn’t exist, did it … I pointed out that following this particular attraction would mean finishing up in a dead end.

We didn’t go into detail and passed on to the next question : was there an attraction other than that and where would that take us ? None of us knew an answer. Johnie’s wife said it might grow on us gradually. I said it might take a long time.

We passed on to another subject. I told them about my latest experience with the word ‘hurt’, more exactly with the state of being hurt which in my opinion reflected offence at not being able to have one’s way, offence at being thwarted, offence at somebody else being stronger and imposing him/herself, pressing his/her point without considering other people’s feelings. They said a polite ‘yes’ now and again. The second part of the proposition was easy enough to accept, I suppose, being the definition of ‘hurt’. As for the first part, ‘be hurt’, they would have to think about that and might come up with some comment next time we meet. They did agree it was preferable not to be hurt and also that being hurt must be understood as a weakness.

After that we discussed our little ailments past and present. How unpleasant not to be in full possession of one’s physical strength. We agreed on that most readily.

I wondered if I had exhausted them and took my leave not before having kissed Johnie’s swollen cheek a little … better, I was hoping. See you some time, we said.