Friday, May 24, 2013

Gloria laughs

“Wouldn't it be dreadful to live in a country where they didn't have tea?”
Noël Coward

 When he heard Gloria laugh aloud at some bit of Cowardesque humor, The Reading Man did two, possibly two-and-a-half things.   If his feet were both on the floor, he tapped the right one, lightly.  If his legs were crossed, he tilted his foot as though to tap it.  He managed to smile though you could tell the full weight of that smile could only be seen from the inside, and he glanced up from the page after placing his right index finger on the last spoken word, and, if she wasn't turned in his direction, looked at Gloria, quick as a blink, then back to the page.

There is magic in making someone laugh, in knowing them so well you can anticipate what will amuse or surprise them.  There is magic in the spontaneity of laughter, the eruptive power that can't be held back, though Gloria had an aunt who once described a movie she had seen as being so funny, "...she could hardly keep from laughing."  It remained one of the family mysteries.  The Reading Man imagined, once he was back home, away from his temporary haunt among the pastry, of phoning Gloria.  She would answer, he would say, "Hi, it's me," and they would both laugh from pure, silly, held-my-breath-too-long, what-if-you-weren't-there, joy.

Each day when The Reading Man, Mr. Apotienne by name, took reluctant leave of the tea room, he walked the length of Billington's Cove, taking one direction on the paved seaside road, returning by the pebbly shore.  With the amount of baked goods he consumed - and as irresistible as they were, he thought his restraint admirable - he would need to buy new slacks at the place that outfitted the fishermen, that being the nearest supplier of masculine trousering.  Canvas pants so sturdy they could hold him up like leg braces did not meet his requirement for the wardrobe of a courting type.  So with actual pleasure he paced off the butter, sugar, flour, a great deal more butter, eggs and the like that, among other influences, made him light-headed each morning in order to maintain, even as Gloria did in her way, a certain standard.  He was beginning to wonder how much his old life would miss him if he never went home.  That evening, he promised, he would list reasons for and against letting himself be slowly absorbed by the sand and the lanes and the intoxicating air of what had to be a pocket of enchantment that he might not find again if he ever left.


Erin in Morro Bay said...

I am continually delighted,mased and fulfilled on a deeper level by the inhabitants of Gloria's tea shop by the sea. I really want to visit - shall we meet up, journals in hand and hearts on our sleeves to partake of the delectable baked goods and even more delicious company?

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - Thank you. The episodic process continues to grow in pleasure for me. Ah, in the land of dreams, let us pick a day and time, starting early and staying late (I just saw some savory tomato tarts that would do nicely for lunch). First one there grabs the table with the best light. xo

Lisa H said...

Mr. Reading Man....don't GO!.....stay. Stay with Gloria....and NEVER stop reading to the rest of us. Please?

Marylinn Kelly said...

Lisa - They will have to set up a roadblock, should he ever decide to go home. We'll take shifts. xo