The one where Johnny shares his antique coin collection with a lady

by James

Gosh, well, yes – it was bikes down the Amalfi coast – three hundred miles, poot poot, one hundred and fifty horses between my thighs – one hundred forty for the little lady – pasta every night, Limoncello. We stayed in the tiniest of villages, no hotels, you are guests in people’s homes, you eat what they eat. Fresh pasta – they pick it off the trees, you know – oh, and the porcini - so lively it was snuffling around for truffles in the afternoon before! The Germans have a word for it – torschulsspanik – literal meaning is gate closing panic – from back in the day when you had to race home before they locked the city gates for the night.

I’m not ashamed to admit it though – mid-life crisis is what it was, which is why me and the little woman bought ourselves matching hogs and gave ourselves this summer to reconnect, to centre one’s id. Happens to us all, what?

It was at this point that Avery finally paused for breath. He raised his glass of rare and precious self-imported Pinio Grigio to the rest of the table of chinless wonders and then took a delicate sip. Johnny forced himself to join the entire table in smiling a gormless grin. He had to cross his legs and clench his entire body to stop himself from leaning across the table to grab Avery by his honest to God cravat, slap him about the face sixty of seventy times whilst screaming it’s bloody torschlusspanik you pretentious bastard.

Johnny did not speak or read German, but he knew that the idiot kept on saying schusls when he should have been saying schluss because he’d surreptitiously googled the bloody word to find out what the bloody idiot was yakking about. Now he was on about hiking across a glacier to see the borealis at dawn – six frozen toes and a near heart attack, but oh so worth it.

Johnny murmured an apology and fled to the toilet. No one seemed to notice him leaving. He killed time in there a while and then went through into the kitchen to very slowly get himself a drink of water before taking an inordinate amount of time to select for himself a foil wrapped chocolate starfish from the dish next to the half demolished Tiramisu (hand made by Avery to a secret holiday recipe).

As he turned for the door he was startled to find Avery’s ever so slightly tipsy wife Karen in the doorway, wine glass in one hand, door frame in the other.

Karen said, ‘Ally in accounts sent me an interesting text message. She told me to ask to see your giant pennies.’

Johnny’s heart sank as his face grew hot. Bloody Alison, always trying to spread it about how much of a boring middle-aged fellow he was, but what was wrong with having a hobby? What was wrong with collecting overlarge novelty copper coins anyway?

Karen looked him in the eye again. Her gaze was firm. She left the safety of the door and stumbled into him. Wine drenched the back of his shoulder as she grabbed him for support, her other hand against his chest.

‘Oops,’ Karen said. She looked up at him. ‘Avery’s not the only one with a mid-life crisis, you know…’