Like all intelligent women who value their health, my PRACTICAL SILESIAN WIFE went to the oncology unit here in Gliwice to have her breasts checked. Three hours in the waiting room, chatting away to the other worried and hopeful patients, worried and hopeful herself because no-one knows more than doctors what breed of lurking demons your body can propel against you.
She left with good news, and unlocking her bike by the entrance, she was approached by a man who she’d seen in the waiting room with his mother.
‘Hello,’ he said, his head bowed, slightly nervous on account of what he had to say next. ‘I was wondering if I could have your phone number…and maybe…eh…we could meet? For a coffee?’
My PSW smiled, thanked him for his interest but admitted she was married with kids.
‘This was remarkable,’ she told me later.
‘What’s so remarkable?’ I asked. ‘You’re an attractive woman, in the full bloom of life – don’t be so hard on yourself.’
But like most Polish women, my PSW can’t take a compliment, making a face as if she’d just ingested a tarantula cookie baked by Angelina Jolie.
‘What was remarkable is him asking me out after seeing me in the waiting room – for all he knows, I could be sick, yet he didn’t care – how many Polish men would do this?’
I told her I didn’t know how many Polish men would take a chance and ask out a potentially sick woman. I don’t have these conversations with my male friends here.
But it’s a damn good question. So let me set the scene: you meet a woman in hospital, she’s got a body like a Coke bottle, when she walks she jiggles like jelly on a plate, the top half of her at least, down below she’s got well-sprung thighs like a thrilling, adolescent Impala and every time she looks in your direction your pants snap about two-inches shorter.
You get talking to her and boy oh boy, the sequence of the words coming out her mouth tells you she’s funny and smart and the feeling in your groin dissipates, moves north until your heart is subsumed with an analgesic glow! So what do you do? Ask her out? Yes, by god! But hold on – time-out for a minute. Your emotions are still marching upwards, the warm, chocolate feeling in your chest as been replaced by a cold logic forming like icicles in your brain as you wonder, ‘what is she doing here in hospital? What’s wrong with her?’
You start to look at your dream girl afresh; perhaps you actually mistook her smile for a grimace? Could it be her alluring sallow skin is nothing but a peculiar tint of jaundice and oh my god – she’s just after scratching her nose – isn’t that the first sign of intestinal parasites? Jesus H. Christ! Do I really need to be dating a woman with parasites – if we share the same comb will they get passed on to me?
Would I be wrong in saying that most men would give up on asking her out, put their head down and continue on their way? Hands up, honestly, how many of you would take the chance? How many of you would say, ‘aw fuck it, I don’t care if her rare blood disorder turns her into a vegetable in six months time – I’ll wipe her ass and make her all the chicken soup she needs.’
No, I didn’t think so.
But the guy in the oncology waiting room didn’t mind and my wife admired this man who spoke with a strong Silesian accent. He was no Clooney, she said, a little rough around the edges, but deep down he reaffirmed her belief in the essential decency of Polish men.
Yep, there’s a good guy out there somewhere, either that or he was the one with the rare disease and wanted some sucker to look after him.