Deep Secret, Spoiler Space, Merlin

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Apr 28 07:25:56 EDT 2003


Christian wrote:

>>On Fri, 25 Apr 2003, Hallie O'Donovan wrote:
>> > Erm.  'Faithfully married' except that Zinka had an affair with
>> > Rupert, and I think it was implied that it was after she was married,
>> > right?  Or possibly not, but Rupert's clearly upset at the news that
>> > Zinka and Simon (it is Simon, isn't it?  My book's not here for
>> > checking) have been married for a couple of years.
>meant to respond to this earlier.
>zinka and rupert had some sort of relationship *before* she married simon. i
>don't know if you mean "affair" in the sense of "cheating" but that's what
>it almost always means in the US (but i don't think so elsewhere, does it?)

Either way, I don't think it's something particularly upsetting to the
reader of whatever age; Zinka is a Good Guy In A White Hat regardless, in
the book, for all that she's evidently oozing sex-appeal -- and very useful
for charming a chap into giving her whole grain from the hotel kitchen
stores it is, too.  She doesn't let her sex-life get in the way of her
actions particularly: when called on for help in an emergency she drops the
personable tall youth on the stairs and comes to do the job.

Rupert describes Zinka as "One-time lover."  He is surprised to learn that
she is married.  I don't think he's shocked (not even by his brother having
forgotten to mention the marriage sooner), more sad/disappointed that she
is no longer going to be available as a shoulder for him to cry on (with a
possible bed in the background) now she's married to his brother and
presumably busy in the evenings when she isn't working.

I don't think "affair" carries particularly negative baggage in
general-usage English English nowadays, unless it has a negative qualifier
like "clandestine" or "illicit" or "hole-in-corner" or some such.  It's
just a fairly neutral way of saying "more than just good friends but not
very serious", where one would say "relationship" if the people were seeing
or sleeping with each other regularly and to the exclusion of other
partners, living on the same premises with goods held in common, or had
children, but hadn't gone through a ceremony of marriage.  "Relationship"
might indicate fidelity; "affair" wouldn't but wouldn't necessarily suggest
promiscuity.  What would the word in US English for seeing each other
occasionally, possibly with sex but without any particular intention of
permanence, and without either guilt or blame being implied?

Depending of course on who is saying it.  One of my aunts would use "she's
having an affair" of a single woman (never I think "he's" and a single man)
as a condemnation, but I think she is one of a dying breed.  Only if
someone is in a "steady relationship" of some kind is "having an affair"
(outside it implied) bad news.

People in relationships are "partners" or "significant others" or "lovers",
too, whereas people having an affair would only be "lovers", not the other
two, probably.

Minnow


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