Sunday Stories: “The Good Housekeeping Magazine Quiz”


The Good Housekeeping Magazine Quiz
by Jo-Ann Bekker

1. Your husband’s First Big Love is crossing an ocean to come and visit him after thirty years. Would you say:

  1. “I’ve got so much work to do I can’t talk about this now.”
  2. “How did you get in touch with her anyway?”
  3. “What does she want? To introduce you to your love child?”
  4. “She’s not staying here.”
  5. All of the above.


2. Your husband’s FBL has booked a week’s accommodation in your town. You will be away at a conference for five of these nights. Would you:

  1. Say: “I’ve got so much work I can’t think about this now.”
  2. Tell your best friend.
  3. Tell your sister.
  4. Tell a tableful of mutual friends who all take it in turns to cross-examine your husband with glee.
  5. All of the above.


3. Your husband tells a tableful of friends that he sees FBL’s visit as the biggest threat to his marriage in twenty-five years. His worst fear is that he will be attracted to her. Would you:

  1. Say: “Well I will be away at a conference that week so it’s up to you.”
  2. Say: “Just make sure you don’t rock our son’s emotional stability. Remember he is in matric.”
  3. Take comfort in the horrified looks on your friends’ faces as they sing your praises and call the imposter names.
  4. Turn cold when you see how serious he is when he says this.
  5. All of the above.


4. Your husband has photographs in his studio waiting for FBL’s visit. They are pictures she gave him when she was seventeen. She is standing against a wall in baggy pants and a long sleeved white t-shirt. Her hair is down in one and she is holding it up in another. She looks young and sweet and beautiful. Do you feel:

  1. Threatened
  2. Threatened.
  3. Threatened.
  4. Threatened.
  5. All of the above.


5. Next to the photographs is a copy of a story he told her every night before they went to sleep. A story about a frog which he illustrated at art school. Do you:

  1. Think: Well he tried to tell me the same story but I kept pointing out the non-sequiturs and asking him questions.
  2. Think: They spoke different languages so maybe this was their way of communicating.
  3. Remember a publisher telling him the story did not have a focus.
  4. Skim through it again and notice how many babies the frogs had.
  5. All of the above.


6. FBL is arriving in a week. Do you tell yourself:

  1. I could leave this town and get a full-time job. I could have a whole new life on my own.
  2. I could rent a little house near a surf break. My older son would come and stay with me in his holidays. I could move to a city. My younger son would come and stay with me in his holidays.
  3. But after a while I would start looking for a new partner. Would I find the same connection, the same contentment?
  4. I’ll never have the same shared history with anyone.
  5. All of the above.


7. It is your silver wedding anniversary two days before FBL arrives. Do you:

  1. Go out for dinner and speak frankly and at length about your relationship and how threatened you feel about FBL’s visit.
  2. Listen to him say he is as nervous as you are about the impending visit.
  3. Notice how thin he has become.
  4. Wonder if he’s deliberately lost weight to look more youthful.
  5. All of the above.


8. FBL arrives tomorrow. Do you have:

  1. Excruciating neck pain.
  2. No appetite.
  3. Pain in your right nipple.
  4. Diarrhoea.
  5. All of the above.


9. FBL arrives tomorrow. Your husband says he thinks he’ll go and have afternoon tea with her at her guest house. Do you:

  1. Say: “For god’s sake don’t go rushing over there, wait for her to settle in and contact you.” But know you are just delaying the inevitable.
  2. Check his phone while he is in the shower and see he never read out the last line of her message: Hopefully see you very soon.
  3. Not mention that you checked his phone.
  4. Take anti-inflammatories for your neck.
  5. All of the above.


10. It is the night before FBL arrives. Do you initiate sex and go down on your husband because:

  1. You want to, and the tension is killing you.
  2. It might be the last time you want to.
  3. He won’t be able to say he’s not getting this at home.
  4. You might never make love with him again.
  5. All of the above.


11. It is the morning after FBL’s arrival. Your husband has spent the previous week planting fifty trees in the garden. He has tidied the lounge. He has left to bring FBL to your house for tea. Do you:

  1. Busy yourself printing out reports for your work trip the next day.
  2. Go to the loo.
  3. Take another anti-inflammatory for your neck.
  4. Wear ordinary clothes and no make-up because really you couldn’t be bothered and perhaps this shows that you are not threatened.
  5. All of the above.


12. As you are collecting the Sunday paper your husband pulls up at the front door with FBL in the seat beside him. Do you:

  1. See a heavy middle-aged woman. See your husband look at you with don’t-worry-this-is-not-the-girl-I-used-to-know eyes.
  2. Welcome her, make tea, ask to see pictures of her daughters, show her pictures of your sons.
  3. Notice her tight clothes, gelled hair, new leather boots. Notice her even-toned skin. Notice the tension around her mouth. Notice how freaked out she becomes by a mosquito bite.
  4. See her relax and become more animated. Hear her similar views on child rearing to yours. See the way she looks at your husband. See the way he looks at you. See how she is beautiful at certain angles. Feel the tension in your own mouth.
  5. All of the above – so you excuse yourself to hang up laundry.


13. You, your husband, your younger son and Yael go to a seaside restaurant for lunch. Do you:

  1. Insist your husband drives Yael so you can give your son a driving lesson.
  2. Tell your son Yael is a friend of his fathers from Israel. Be proud of how charming he is throughout lunch.
  3. Talk Yael through the menu. Notice how she turns her back on your husband and faces you for most of the meal.
  4. Notice how difficult she finds it to chew.
  5. All of the above.


14. Your husband and Yael arrive back home an hour after you. Do you:

  1. Let them talk some more on the stoep while you pack for your trip.
  2. Tell her it was nice to meet her. Mean it.
  3. Watch her say thank you for all this – hands raised and open, indicating what?
  4. Tell her you’ll be away for the week and your husband will be very busy looking after your son.
  5. All of the above.


15. After your husband takes Yael back to her guest house. Do you:

  1. Think about what she’s done: Chosen to leave her two daughters, husband, family and friends and come to South Africa to find closure with a boyfriend she knew thirty years ago. Realise she was vague about whether she was still living with her husband.
  2. Think about what she said: “This is a present I am giving myself for my fiftieth birthday.”
  3. Feel her pain.
  4. Think about what she said about her siblings. How they are so jealous of her. How they feel she is their parents’ favourite. How she was in therapy to deal with their hostility. How she seems to harbour parallel feelings of hurt and injustice against your husband.
  5. All of the above.


16. After your husband returns home quickly after dropping off Yael does he tell you:

  1. Yael told him she would have come to visit even if he had tried to dissuade her. She had re-read all his letters and found one where he told her he loved her.
  2. She wasn’t interested in doing much tourist stuff. All she wanted to do was go over the past.
  3. He is grateful for how warm you were to her. She said she was grateful too.
  4. He will wait for her to initiate the next contact. He will look after your son while you are away. He will probably meet her for lunch a few times.
  5. All of the above.


17. It is five nights later and you have just arrived back from your demanding conference. You spoke to your husband by telephone once during the week and he said FBL’s visit was going well and she seemed to be happier. Now your husband walks through the door with a pink rose he was given at a relative’s funeral. He gives you the rose, you put it in water and ask about his week. His face has a crumpled expression you’ve never seen before. Do you ask him:

  1. If it was a difficult week.
  2. Whether FBL wanted more from him at every meeting.
  3. Whether they had a lot of physical contact.
  4. Whether they had sex.
  5. All of the above.


Jo-Ann Bekker is a South African writer whose stories have appeared in Volume 1 Brooklyn, New Contrast, Itch, The Drum, Type/Cast and Problem House Press. She received her MA in Creative Writing from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, in 2016. She lives in Knysna.

Image: Wikimedia via Creative Commons

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