4 – Quarantine

She is sitting on the couch. He arrives.

Him – It’s incredible. I just received another call from a friend of mine inviting me to celebrate his fortieth birthday. Unbelievable, isn’t it ?

Her – If you all were twenty at the same time, it is not so strange that twenty years later you could be forty more or less at the same time…

Him – I mean, what’s crazy is that I had no news from all this people for years… And all of a sudden, the phone doesn’t stop ringing !


Her – Are you planning to go ?

Him – It scares me a little. They might have changed, it’s been a long time.

Her – Physically, you mean ?

Him – Physically, mentally… I hope they’re not too dishevelled.

Her (simpering) – What about me ? Are you sure I am not too dishevelled ?

Him – It’s different with you, I see you every day, you age little by little. But them, all of a sudden… It’ll be like The Return of The Living Dead… It’s weird, isn’t it, this sudden need to get together when people get close to their fortieth birthday…

Her – It’s called a birthday party, isn’t it ?

Him – They say that animals move closer to humans when they feel that the end is coming. It must be something like that. A kind of herd instinct. What could I possibly offer him ?

Her – A funeral contract…?

Him – It’s expensive, isn’t it ?

Her – I’m joking… What about you ?

Him – Yes, sure.

Her – No, I mean : Do you plan to do something about your fortieth anniversary ?

Him – What do you want me to do ? Any idea to preventing it ? Anyway, please, don’t organise a surprise party, okay…? If I haven’t seen all these people for years, there must be a very good reason.


Him – How old are you, exactly ?

She looks at him, shocked, but does not answer.

Her – We should invite the neighbours for dinner one day.

Him – What for ?

Her – For nothing !

Him – They never invited us.

Her – Maybe they didn’t dare…


Him – Just because we’re neighbours, it doesn’t mean that we need to be friends…

Her – The only friends we have live three hundred miles from here ! It could be nice to have friends next door…

Him – Well… From a practical point of view… It would cut travelling expenses. And hence reduce pollution. One could almost say that it is ecological to make friends with one’s neighbours.


Him – What does he do, exactly ?

Her – I don’t know. Every morning, I see him leave home with a briefcase. Who knows where he goes. I’ll ask him next time, if you like…

Him – What about her ?

Her – They’re very discreet…

Him – Sounds like this dinner will be fun. If we don’t want to be intrusive…

Her – You’ll can always talk about yourself.

Him – They’ve got children, haven’t they ?

Her – Every day, three of them leave the house to go to school. I suppose they are theirs.

Him – Oh yes… A little, a medium and a big one… (Worried) Do we have to invite them too ?

Her – Oh, no ! I’ll specify that it’s a strictly adult evening. That way there’s no ambiguity.

Him – You were speaking about the neighbours in front, right ?

Her – The side neighbours ! The ones in front moved six months ago, after their divorce. Didn’t you see the sign « For Sale » ?

Him – No.

Her – And anyway, they didn’t have any children.

Him – Really…?


Her – It wouldn’t be cleaning day, by any chance ?

Him – I’m afraid it is. (With a sigh) Housework is the foundation of the couple…

Her – That’s probably why a couple is called a household.

Him – And a triangle a « ménage à trois ».

She looks at him, surprised.

Him – Ménage means household, in French… When a man lives with two housewives…

Her – Three, in a house, can also be a couple with a child…

Him – Everyone has his own fantasies.


Her – So ?

Him – You really think that now is the right time to have a baby ?

Her – It’s not a question of money, and you know it… Besides, we’re not so poor…

Him – We will be with a bunch of kids…! Look what happens in Africa, with the galloping population growth… I read a book years ago : «Black Africa Had A Bad Start». Well, it hasn’t got any better ever since… Today, nobody seriously thinks that Africa is in motion… Apart from the continental drift… The more babies people have, the poorer they are…

Her – Are you sure it is not the other way around ?

Him – Anyway, if poor people don’t have any children, the next generation, everybody would be rich… Look at the Chinese. They’re not allowed to have more than one baby, and they’re already much better off…

Her – Then, let’s start with one…

Him – When would we take care of this kid ? We don’t even have the time to sweep the floor !

Her – We would hire a cleaner.

Him – But we don’t have any room for this child !

Her – You could set up your office in the basement…

Him – That’s what I call a bad start… What about you ? Are you planning to stop working ?

Her – We’ll hire a nanny.

Him – In addition to the cleaner ? That’s no longer a « ménage à trois », it’s a small business ! I’m not sure I’m that entrepreneurial…


Him – We won’t be able to go out in the evening anymore.

Her – We’ll hire a baby-sitter.

Him – I never realised just how much of a direct effect population growth has on employment.

Her – And consumerism…

Him – Diapers, baby-food, toys, medical care…

She – New car…

Him – Finally, you’re right. This baby will bring an end to the economic crisis…