Rosaria from Gozo (Entertainment with friends and Ophra)

Back in Australia’s Rockdale, Hzanna with husband and friends inside the RSL club made the hazardous trip to their dining table without anyone getting lost in those labyrinthine, twinkling, garish and beckoning gambling caves.

As is normal in many clubs, the menu is perused by the hungry on huge blackboards behind the counter. Only the best of sign writers are employed in using the many colourful arrangements of crayons to write up an ever-changing daily menu. This perusing is done while patrons shuffle patiently ever forward in a queue which can be quite large, especially moments after opening for dinner.

Mr Azzopardi had a penchant for roast pork with apple sauce. The main attraction for him was the salty crackling that accompanied this particular dish. He always, rather good-humouredly, warned at the cash register that the crackling should not be missed. It was just one of those little culinary joys of life that he looked forward to. It was perhaps all a bit askew, seeing he was a purveyor of ‘meat solutions’. Surely this butcher from Malta had all the logistics at his finger-tips to produce all the crackling he could ever eat. There you go though; life still holds mysteries, even in Rockdale. Challenges and solutions are galore for those with enough business acumen.

After everyone had settled at the table waiting for their plates to arrive, they started sipping the chardonnay. Hzanna, after the invigorating hot stone treatment that afternoon felt aglow with life if not hunger as well. She ordered a bottle of bubbly pinot and with a twinkle in her eye to her husband; she quickly gulped down a large mouthful. The evening was young and anything could happen.

While the plates arrived, the pre-food wine sipping started to work wonders, loosening tongues and giving oral bravery to where there were none before. The Azzopardi couple’s friends soon started divulging and exchanging intimate tit bits on their relationships. “We are working on ours, trying new things.” . This sexual little confession worked like grist for the mill. “Yes, we too”, are trying to invigorate with new techniques as well, the other couple responded.

Do you ever watch Ophra? It’s a really good program and very intimate. They are so much more advanced over in America. They all work on relationships, almost non-stop. Of course, Hzanna hadn’t quite got to grips with the somewhat largish black American woman on the TV. She knew that that show was enormously successful. She was also very rich and influential. Indeed, Australia was soon to be graced by her visit, promising to outdo a previous papal visit.

Hzanna was puzzled however that her visit would put Australia back on the map as far as tourism was going. Would tourists flock to Australia because of Ophra? What about tourism based on the wonders of Australia, she thought?

Anyway, the magic of Ophra’s show certainly was the theme at this dinner table. Ophra never held back when it came to couples divulging their relationships on her TV shows. Not an issue was kept away from the cheering audience. Nothing too shameful or too intimate a detail was to be denied to the ever sensation hungry crowd, nor would any reticence by the participants be allowed. Just a grimace or an awry pulling of face behind the backs of the hapless couple and a renewed cheering on by the crowd, would result in more outpouring of more detailed sexual intimacies. All their secrets were thrown for instant consumption by the hysterical crowd. All was clapping and ovations, while Ophra counted her billions.

Hzanna thought it all very silly but nonetheless, the table was all in praise of trying out new things and renew the fervour and excitement with ‘working on’ their relationships. If Ophra gave it the nod of approval, why not do the same for Rockdale couples? “Bert wanted me to do things with vegetables”, the wife blurted out. “Yah, but only if you sliced them up afterwards and put them in the soup”, Bert replied.

Bert was now duly fortified by the Shiraz coyly named the “Promised Land.” The diners, now well over half way through their dishes and three quarters through their wine, hooted in response. “Did you see, Dr Phil and that man who confessed to erectile dysfunction on stage yesterday, Bert’s wife blurted? “No, I didn’t Hzanna replied”, noticing Bert was stooped over the last of his roast lamb wiping his plate clean of the remnants of the mint sauce. She hoped that the wife’s resorting to using vegetarian dildos wasn’t due to Bert’s over indulgence to wine and his ensuing floppiness during trying out ‘new techniques’ and working on a ‘renewal’….of an Ophra induced marital work-out.

Hzanna was getting ill at ease. The evening’s conversation was not focussed on exchange of something new, just seemed to meander on being rather soulless. She often felt an ache when trying so hard to make new friends.

No way was she going to reveal their marital state. What was there to work on? Surely, the ups and downs were all part and parcel of anything, especially relationships? Her husband was still munching on his pork crackling which he had kept till last. He did not want that to be spoilt by the thought of an inappropriate use of vegetables, no matter where they ended up being put.

To him food was sacred and to be respected. He did entertain the idea though, that he might try out selling hot crackling. Hot crackling in a nice container could sell easily for three dollars a pop. His busy brain feverishly and always at work, always improving at things. He was mentally already back at his Meat Solutions shop, honing his filleting knife, getting ready to strip bare the potential fat off whole sides of porkers. It could well be a go-er. Nothing would stop this brave entrepreneur.

He also did not feel too enticed into revealing the ups and downs of their relationship, decided to keep all that firmly tucked between the sheets of their recently acquired King Size bed with built in surround sound, no matter how often Dr Phil or Ophra would make public America’s obsession to use TV as a confessional for trivia.

Still, each to their own, if others felt the need to work on their relationships and use props or other devices, so be it, he thought benevolently. Rosaria had just sent them some music from Malta. He made a mental note of putting the music on when back at home. Hzanna eyes were still twinkling with promise, even though half the pinot remained in the bottle. The evening wasn’t finished yet!

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