Short Story Review – Lola Copacabana – L.L. Is a Marr(i)ed Woman (trans. Samantha Schnee)

It can be hard work being so bored.

A family is staying at a resort, the kind where everything is taken care of for you, and the only thing to do, really, is stave off the drunkenness until at least after lunch.  Spoil yourself if you will, soil yourself if you wish – it’s your time.  Fill the day however you wish, but, best think about how before you arrive.  Else you’ll just die of boredom.

They are this kind of family:

L.L. looks over what’s left of dinner. Salad with vegan cheese for her husband, turkey burgers for the kids, four eggs scrambled in coconut oil for her. Before arriving at this exclusive resort in Baja California, her husband’s assistant sent the staff a detailed list of what they like to eat; and so far the staff have proven eager to attend to the family’s every need and desire on numerous occasions.

L. L. is bored.  She watches a bit of television – the Kardashians are on; she amuses herself by eating some red flavoured gelatin – which she licks up from the floor; she listens to her husband ‘guffawing’ as he downs his fourth (fifth?) scotch, and wonders whether the lingerie she packed will be used at all.  It’s not accident she packed it at the bottom of the bag, after all.

There are children, and a nanny, and L.L and her husband, J. L.  The holidays were meant to be better than they are, but neither L. L. or J. L. are putting in much effort.  The children’s activities are handled by the nanny, and – that’s their life.

If none of this appears to amount to much, well, that’s kind of the point.  Lola Copacabana is showing us the boredom of the idle, and how much worse it can be when you are spending time in a place as artificial, and out-of-time, as a resort.  The married couple have nothing to do but talk to each other, interact with each other, but of course they don’t, because they’ve forgotten how.  And so the hours drip by.

And then something happens. It’s nothing at all, but given the dead stillness of the day, it’s a big deal.  The nanny slips – the curvaceous, seventeen years old nanny, falls to the ground.

In fact, before L.L. and the nanny have even had time to react, J.L. has taken the chubby teen babysitter in his arms and laid her gently on the sofa like a knight in shining armor.

Energy!  Activity!  Motion!  J.L. is sparked into action (Ah, surely not because she is young and buxom?), and through his action, L. L., too, becomes active, at least mentally.  She sees the way her husband looks at this sudden damsel-in-distress situation – there’s a spark of life that wasn’t present before.  And it isn’t directed at her, and she knows very clearly that it won’t be.

And so L.L. leaves them to it, she takes the children up to bed, she positions herself in a subservient role to the nanny, who was supposed to do that, but it instead now will be done by their real mother.  L.L. fades – she’s no longer the primary focus of the story.

How sad it must be to see your husband ignite into activity and action, and to have all of this energy directed not at yourself, but a nearby pretty, young woman.  It must hurt.  And yet L.L. acts less hurt than in the manner of someone who accepts that this is the way it happens to be – she may or may not like it, but the time for liking is past.  It is.  This is how their life is to be.

And somebody needs to put the children to bed, after all.  Tonight, it might as well be L.L.  She isn’t doing anything else, after all.

L.L. Is a Marr(i)ed Woman is a short story by Argentinean writer Lola Copacabana, and was translated by Samantha Schnee.  You can read the story online at Latin American Literature Today.

Author Lola Copacabana
Title L.L. Is a Marr(i)ed Woman
Translator Samantha Schnee
Nationality Argentinean
Publisher Latin American Literature Today

Please visit the Short Story Reviews page to see all of the available reviews.


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