A New Character

Just as if in a metaphor for her life, the day started out being sunny then became overcast, pending the quickly approaching cold front. The wind changed direction, temperature decreased, pressure increased and there was a high possibility of showers.

The previous twenty-four hours had been another day of confusion, indecision, inconsistencies and eccentricities. It began with the morning selection of clothes to wear, had extended into the choice of breakfast, then developed from there.

She thought to herself, when? She seriously tried to identify the instant, or at least the approximate period of her life, that she started being eccentric; or rather, when did people start identifying her as eccentric. Of course, the existentialist in her would say, same thing. The realist in her would say, bullshit. She could never quite decide between the two.

She used to be cute. They thought she was funny. And not in a bad way. She was considered to have joie de vivre. Friends would laugh when she went “left field”, when she said something unpredictable and/or incongruous. Then she became…strange. At least, in the eyes of others she did. Her friends said that she thought too much, analyzed things in too much detail and saw too many alternatives, too many different interpretations. She was even accused of being too intelligent. She became unsure, indecisive… vague. Weird. People stopped asking her how she was when they met. They avoided asking her any question. People at work started rolling their eyes when she walked into a room. They exchanged furtive glances as she agonised aloud over whether she felt like tea or coffee- for five minutes. It became almost impossible for her to decide to want anything.

People thought it odd that she always seemed to be alone. She was considered reasonably attractive to men, but never seemed to have a boyfriend. She was strange. She knew it.

Carol Azzapardi was 34 years old. She was not pretty but not unattractive either. She had a round face, accented further by short cropped, Audrey Hepburn type hair that always seemed a little messy. She was slightly above average height and slim. Her physical assets were obvious- rather large, round breasts.  She understood that she was physically attractive to men…or was that just her breasts?  She regularly disguised their size in loose fitting clothing.  But men still discovered them, somehow. Men were tenacious when it came to breasts. She theorised that it must have something to do with infant imprinting of boys who were breastfed. Or perhaps it was the ones who weren’t breastfed that were so obsessed? No, she concluded that they were all obsessed.

She described herself as moderately attractive, but not very.

Eyes: sort of brown, or hazel, depending on the prevailing light.

Figure: slim, to most people, but not to really slim people.

She didn’t know if she wanted children.

No particularly strong interests or hobbies.

Not really an outdoor type. Nor indoor.

Her online dating profile didn’t attract much interest. Except for a few men who asked questions like was she openminded, did she like sex and what was her bra size.

Today was going to be a big day for Carol Azzapardi. She was going into town, shopping. She would have a Feastburger for lunch …or perhaps something else. She had worked out how to avoid her problem with indecision. The staff at her local fast-food outlet were used to her. She would simply ask the crew member to choose something for her and eat whatever they chose. It saved time and angst. This worked on most visits, unless a new crew member offered her a choice between two or more meal deals. Last week she had a Feastburger, fries with that and a small thick shake, any flavour. Easy. Such a relief.

The shopping would be more difficult. She needed to buy a new washing machine as the old one had died. Would she be able to decide on anything? Carol was dreading the mental anguish to come.


The Law

You want to know something interesting? he proffered.

I suppose you’re going to tell me (she rolls her eyes).

I was people watching in Valletta today, just opposite the Law Courts, and it definitely looks to me that 99% of couples are evenly matched when it comes to their level of physical attractiveness. It may have been my proximity to the court house, but I was thinking that it was… like a rule, or a law, or something. A law of nature.

Oh yeah? Fascinating.

Yeah (you don’t have to be sarcastic, you know). No. Really. You rarely see a couple where one partner is a lot more attractive than the other. I mean, you always get exceptions to any law. In this case, it would be the phenomenon of “punching above your weight” and all that, but that’s pretty damn unusual. Mostly it’s fairly even. Very attractive looking women seem to be with very attractive looking men, moderately attractive men seem to be with moderately attractive women, unattractive looking people seem to be partnered with other unattractive looking people, obese people are mostly with other obese people, partners are around the same age etc. etc. It all seems to be in balance. And another law is that the male is usually a little taller than the female.

Bad luck for you, there.

Oh, thanks. Thanks a lot. Very nice of you.


As a matter of fact, I am very attracted to tall women. I wouldn’t care at all if my partner was taller. Even, much taller. I’m very non-sexist about that. In fact, my sexual fantasy is to sleep with a giant woman.

That would make her a sleeping giant.

Will you stop it, please? I’m trying to have a sensible conversation, here.

Sensible conversation … about sleeping with giant women.

YES. Back to the discussion. Just like in criminal law, in “the law of equal partner attractiveness” – I think I’m onto something, here! – there are mitigating and aggravating factors. When it comes to matching attractiveness, justice is achieved with these balancing factors. Height is an example. A man can be with a slightly more attractive woman if he is more than just slightly taller than her. Or wealth; vis a vis older man, younger woman. And breasts when it comes to women- obvious BIG factor.


And humour. Girls love “funny”. It’s all about achieving justice in the law of equal attractiveness. You see! just like a judge using mitigating and aggravating factors to work out justice in sentencing a criminal.

This whole conversation is borderline criminal, if you ask me. So…girls love “funny”? Guess that leaves you out again.

Will you quit it! What is with you?

Just being the devil’s advocate.

Oh, droll…very droll… “advocate” …very funny.

I love funny.

Curmudgeon Conversation (for Nobby)


“I used to be high on life… but I’ve built up a tolerance.”
She was startled by his sudden outburst.
“Well, that’s a cheery thought”, she smirked.
“I know, but it’s true. It’s life’s cruel joke that just when you begin to get your head together, your body falls apart. It should all be in reverse. You should start life at say, 85 years of age, and then get a year younger every 12 months until you simply disappear. Just imagine being a teenager with a lifetime of wisdom, experience and accumulated wealth. I detest the idea of growing old.”
“Well, you can’t do much about it so you may as well be positive about it and grow old gracefully.”
“Oh, no! Don’t you dare. I can’t stand it. Don’t start that, growing old is a privilege, garbage. Good luck to those who can make themselves believe that rubbish, but I’m not that delusional. Just what’s positive about physical and cognitive decay? Three cheers for senility? Let’s hear it for bad backs and hip replacements? Not to mention inching nearer to death. And what about those people who say: When I look back on my life, I wouldn’t change a thing? Makes me feel like slapping them. Makes me want to say: you idiot, didn’t you learn anything? It’s all pathetically defensive. A fatuous way to cope with the irreversibility of ageing and avoid regret and responsibility. Death will be a relief, in a way.”
“Boy, you really are in a mood.”
“Don’t call me boy.”


Last night I had a dream. It was as if I was in a movie.
It was 1912 and I was on a luxury passenger liner on its maiden voyage, crossing the Atlantic. The ship had just collided with an iceberg and we were sinking. In the background, I could hear a band playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee”, somewhere on deck.
I was slowly ascending a wide staircase with brass balustrades on both sides and all was bathed in an eerie, golden light.
There, at the very top of the staircase, waiting, was my shorts.
They were beckoning me hither with one flap of a cargo pocket.

(Sorry everyone. That’s the last on the shorts)

Eulogy for a Pair of Shorts

I threw away my favourite pair of shorts today.
It was a sad day.
I wore them regularly and almost constantly for years. They started life as a brown/kaki colour but had faded to white. They had become threadbare and the hem had ripped in the wash but I managed to get another day’s wear from them on a recent bushwalk. The rip had expanded on the walk and they had become quite dirty and stained; another wash would have been unrealistically optimistic.
I loved those shorts.
They were bought from Target, in Lithgow. They were cargo style. They were on sale at almost half price which immediately made them cherished by a boy whose sensibilities are defined by the Maltese frugal gene.
They had pockets everywhere.
They were a faithful accomplice. Even when past girlfriends hated them, they loyally soldiered on. They suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous female derision but continued to serve me well.
They outlasted relationships.
They stuck by me during fluctuations of belly fat. They travelled with me from Australia to Malta and back again, several times.
Sadly, they won’t accompany me to Malta this year.
I couldn’t bear to part with them in the end and they sat on the dinning room table for four days before I had the fortitude to put them in the wheelie bin. I felt dirty. I felt like a monster.

I said a few words.
Farewell old friend. Until we meet again, in shorts heaven 😞


Stories My Parents Told Me

He started his walk around the perimeter of the ancient city he lived in every evening at precisely 6pm, after 7pm in the heat of summer. He knew his walk would take him 56 minutes from the moment he left his small and tidy stone house until he returned and re-entered his bright blue front door. He knew his walk included stepping up 188 steps and stepping down 157 steps during the circuit. He did it for reasons of health, vanity and remorse. He did not feel as though he was obsessive, just very observant. And self-disciplined. He also liked to be in control. Sometimes that combination did not work too well.
“What do you think about while you walk?” she asked. Her eyes were smiling and she was genuinely interested.
“Oh, lots of things”, he replied. “What happened that day, what I did yesterday, what I will do tomorrow…

View original post 406 more words

Audiobook Sample

OUT SOON: The audiobook edition of MUSINGS AND MUTTERINGS OF A MALTESE MISANTHROPE by @RupertCGrech. It will be available at Amazon, iTunes, Audible. #Malta #audiobooks #humor #satire