Saturday, June 22, 2013

Teas of the World come to Gloria's

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
Charles Darwin
I suspect there must be a tool, a skill, for self-preservation, something that might be called Darwinian, protecting us from knowing the magnitude of change that is rocketing in our direction.  In repose - which for me is a state of blankness not far from sleep - I sense the multitudes at work, running and engine-gunning and rearranging cars like valets at a Hollywood soiree.  Roustabouts continually dismantling, transporting and re-erecting the circus in a new town.  It seems that things were/are afoot,  the smallest portion of them knowable, visible, fathomable to this human mind and I am glad not to have been granted the long-ago wish to know what comes next.  I can barely absorb what is here now.  Once in a while, however, there are glimmers.


Mr. Guscott felt the sun on his generous forehead as he stepped out of the rental car, his sample case in hand.  The sun's warmth, in spite of winds so insistent they created whitecaps off shore, caused him to consider his good fortune, the warm hand of blessing upon him as he traveled the world seeking and selling fine teas.  Today, uninterrupted good fortune, it was the day to call upon Gloria.

While a man of his time in many ways, Mr. Guscott had built a safe inner chamber where he protected, like a premature, orphaned mouse,  the suspicion that he missed the era for which he'd been intended.  There was still adventure and discovery in his work, though not on the scale once known to those who sailed for the East India Company or its competitors.  The long voyages would likely have left him queasy, rubber-legged and underweight, but in his imagination, in his reading, the romance of it all would have been sufficient to encourage him through hardship.  Thus he was a representative of a construction that encompassed traditions, intrigue, the power of the British Empire, the real-world commerce of tea and a good deal of time spent in moments that were not presently occurring.   A man with feet in two worlds.

As he reached the shop's door, Mr. Apotienne had just turned onto the entry path and followed Mr. Guscott into the fragrant, surprisingly chatter-free room, moving in the direction of his delightfully unoccupied favorite table.  First to appear from behind the scenes was Fiona, welcoming The Reading Man, smiling her acknowledgement of his table being empty and quiet.  Next arrived Gloria, untying her apron to leave on a kitchen counter, grasping Mr. Guscott's free hand in both of hers, calling him by name and asking if his travels were treating him well.  "It is always fair weather," he said, "when I am on the road.   Though I have seen a monsoon in Sri Lanka, which I continue to think of as Ceylon," he added as a bashful, time-warp aside, "that I wasn't sure I'd survive.  Still," he said.  "Still."

The Reading Man, being the only other guest in the shop, of course heard this exchange while attending to the menu card for the day and bringing out his book, though it did not seem quite the time for reading aloud.  While Mr. Guscott seemed to be an American, no precise accent from elsewhere, there was a cadence, almost a audible patina to his words which anchored him, he would have been thrilled to know, to another place and age.  He was without pretension yet it almost seemed as though he was traveling incognito but making a rather unsuccessful job of it.

When Gloria had seated him and he began to rummage through his sample case, to which order would need to be restored, she stepped closer to The Reading Man and said, "Perhaps you would like to meet our visitor.  Would you mind joining us here?" as she indicated the round, window-lit table where Mr. Guscott and his tea samples were establishing a base of operation.  The Reading Man nodded and stood, Mr. Guscott stood and, before Gloria could make introductions, proclaimed himself to be "Jack Guscott.  Teas of the World."  To which The Reading Man, shaking his hand, said "Robert Apotienne, tourist."


Erin in Morro Bay said...

"Sri Lanka, which I continue to think of as Ceylon" and Iran which will always be Persia to me.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - And even in Burma they seem undecided. How can we possibly keep up? xo

Lisa H said...

Oh JOY. A new character arrives!
I'm way too excited.

In addition, we have confirmation that our Mr. Apotienne is actually a "Robert". Such a good, good name.....

Marylinn Kelly said...

Lisa - A new character, indeed. Fun for me, too. And yes, TRM is indeed Robert. There is no question. xo