“Jonas just texted me. His plane is due in at 1 a.m. He asks us to join him for dinner at eight tomorrow evening. He has made reservations at Casanova’s Chinese restaurant,” he said.
“How does he sound?” said she.
“Not as exuberant as usual.”
“No. I expect he’s just tired.”
“I suppose so. I’m dying to hear his stories about his trip. He’s such a good storyteller.”
“So he is. It might be a little different this time, though. He’s never been to Turkey before.”
“I don’t quite see why. Most of his trips have been to countries he never went to before. In fact, I’m not at all sure he has made any repeat journeys,” she said
“I spoke badly. What I mean is, he has no natural affinity for Turkey. All his other trips have been to European countries. Jonas is cosmopolitan, but western cosmopolitan.”
“I don’t know. He certainly seemed to joke about harems enough before leaving.”
“That is so. I wonder if he’ll feel compelled to tell us about his sexual escapades, as he has done before,” said he.
“Why should he change? Of course he will.”
“You know, it’s a strange thing about Jonas. In many ways he’s what I would call an old-line gentleman, a throwback to the time of our great-grandfathers. Yet he has this curious streak of vulgarity—or at least what our great-grandfathers would call vulgarity. I mean this free talk about sex in mixed company.”
“You’re right. In all other ways, Jonas is courtly. I can’t explain it.”
“The only explanation I can come up with is that both the courtliness and the vulgarity are simply natural to the man. Neither is cultivated. He is, after all, not a man much given to self-discipline. Look at his many affairs—and not only in Europe.”
“Actually he seemed to show some remorse the day before he left for Turkey, or at least a reluctance to continue his latest. You remember you had a business meeting that Saturday, so you couldn’t make the bon voyage lunch? So it was just he and I,” she said.
“Well, he seemed down. He said he didn’t want to destroy this marriage—the one he was telling me about. He was breaking with the woman, and he said he hoped the marriage would survive.”
“How out of character,” said he.
“He said marriage may require repentance and forgiveness.”
“Yes. I said I agreed with him. If you had been there, would you have said anything?”
“I would have said that, in addition to repentance and forgiveness, a marriage—and a friendship, too, for that matter—may require discretion. Come, let’s go home.”