From men to mid life crises, from Botox to Brazilians, from infertility to infidelity, every week Jacqui Leigh gives her personal take on being a fortysomething woman
A cougar in love
A couple of weeks ago Fred mentions he's off to the south of France for a week. Cap d'Antibes. A birthday present from his girlfriend.
I stop counting reps. I'm overwhelmed with curiosity. His girlfriend? Does he mean Hatchet Face? Since he forced me to confide in him about my divorce I can't help feeling entitled to know something in return.
'You mean your client with the long hair don't you?'
Fred smirks. 'Never you mind.'
'Isn't she... married?' This is just a guess, mind, based on the huge spangly boulder on her left hand.
Fred makes a feeble attempt to sound professional. 'I don't talk about my clients to other clients'
Yeah, yeah. We frequently gossip about his other clients, it's one of our favourite topics of conversation. I look at him shrewdly.
'I bet she's got kids.'
Now he looks worried; 'Can you lower your voice please?!'
I lower my voice and keep going. 'So the holiday to France. What on earth does she tell her husband?'
'He's fine about it.'
I grin at him. At least she won't need to explain away the sun tan since she's perma tanned anyway.
He looks at me solemnly. 'Look Jacqui, I'm telling you things I don't tell anyone else okay? Now shut it and get back to work. How many reps is that?'
That'll just have to do for now. I think I've pushed him enough. So there we have it. I've coaxed it out of him. A new spirit of openness between me and Fred.
I share this information with my beauty therapist and confidante Lara, who, in case you've forgotten, used to work as a personal trainer at the gym and is now a therapist in a very zen, chilled-out and not inexpensive salon near where I live.
Owing to the fact that she's spent an inordinate amount of time ripping hair out of my most intimate regions there is an unusual level of frankness between us. I follow the soap opera details of her love life with her on/off boyfriend who won't commit and she allows me to bore her senseless about my divorce. I tell her about Fred and Hatchet Face. Lara nods. She knows Fred from the gym and it turns out she knows Hatchet Face as well.
'Melissa. I know her. She comes here.'
Hatchet Face, I mean - Melissa, comes here! Of course she does. She and I are more alike than I care to think. Similar age. Middle class. Unhappy marriages. We train at the same gym with the same trainer and now we go to the same beauty salon. Kind of a bit bloody predictable aren't we?
'They're in love,' adds Lara
Screech of brakes. In love? We're talking about a married woman who's paying her trainer a thousand pounds a month. How can that be love? There are many things I can imagine Fred's pretty good at, and I can understand the attraction, but a meaningful relationship?! What do they talk about? What on earth do they have in common? And then, ahem, there's all his outrageous flirting with me: grabbing me in the shower; the relentless and unsubtle innuendos. I presume she doesn't know about that...
Unless he has hidden depths - extremely well hidden ones - I just don't get it. Is being in love the story she has to tell herself in order to be able to go on cheating outrageously on her husband?
'Everyone knows personal trainers are just sex workers,' adds Lara. 'That's why I packed it in. Too many creeps expecting something extra.'
I'm baffled. If Hatchet Face really thinks she's in love, why doesn't she just leave her husband?
Lara shrugs. 'The kids. His money. Status. She's got a lot to lose. And maybe she's scared Fred doesn't really want her...'