On Laughter and Men

Keyword: Laugh

It is said that a man’s disposition can be ascertained by his quickness to laugh. Laugh too soon and you’re a frivolous, eager to please; laugh too long, or too loud, and you’ve got no self-restrain.

Too late a laugh, often a scoff or a grunt, warranties that you are given to brooding, and are altogether too self-absorbed, only re-entering the conversation when a snippet breaks through your musings, or furthers them, with quips that have more than often no bearing on the actual conversation at hand.

No laugh and/or a frown, and you’re either a bore or a fool, too slow-witted to follow the clever retorts, or a snob, who’d rather be in the company of other, more interesting people than this.

But a laugh, full and hearty, that graces magnanimously all who fall in its path, that eases the crinkles in agitated spirits, and that lights the amber within one and all, now that’s different. Its timber, its rise and fall the very symphony of life itself. Its infectious presence a reminder that life’s a merry carnival and we are all here to rejoice.

The bearer of this laugh — sitting upright on a high-back armchair, shoulders thrown back in easy debate over the future of literature and the written word, lit delightfully by a Moroccan lamp stand in the corner, and surrounded by eager ears — could be called charming, good-natured, well-groomed, a lady’s man.

But whether he is a gentleman or a cad, to be taken seriously or dismissed as the season’s new flavor, I cannot tell. Only time could resolve this debate; although good sense, as documented in the novels of which he is such a fan, at once warns us to the folly of trusting such a man. For many lies have slipped past such a welcoming mouth. Many an endearment casually offered without a second thought.

He smiles warmly at me, like I am the only one in the room, and for now, in the absence of better prospects and good company, it is enough to bask in the brightness of this merry man.

 

 

Seven Lives

Keyword: Findings

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Mittenwald, German Alps, 1885

I find him on a train. It is the last one out of town. He is standing next to the exit. Raindrops dancing off his face. My letter clutched to his heart. We kiss and make out before a wistful old lady who has clouded irises, but is well aware of the ways of desperate souls. She plays the violin and speaks of her lover from her youth, unmindful of our hot breath clouding the car’s chilled window panes as another steam train whistles by. We escape our feuding families, our conflicting pasts, but we never make it beyond the fjord.

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The Couch

Keyword: Couch

Oh, that big, fat, white monstrosity! That ugly, bloated mass of foam and springs. It could be the lost art of Leonardo Da Vinci or Raphael or Caravaggio, the way she goes on and on about it. Posting reviews on sites in the middle of the night. Snapping arty, tasteful photos of them for all her friends to enjoy slash envy on Twitter, Facebook, and whatnot. Posing like friends, like long-lost lovers, like a mother dotting on her favorite child.

You may notice that I, her dear beloved husband of two years, is nowhere in the frame. She has disowned me for her new love … this l-shaped mass of fabric that commands attention from all corners of the room, lounging regally, like Uncle Benny, drunk and woozy in his three-piece pinstripe suit and a sharp bow-tie, that happy, stupid, glazed look on his face.

There’s no escaping this thing.

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He gets me …

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Keyword: Red

He gets me.

He gets me a red-and-white reindeer sweater for Christmas.

He gets me a red-and-white reindeer sweater for Christmas, like the four before it, and I hate that.

He gets me a red-and-white reindeer sweater for Christmas, like the four before it, and I hate that he won’t be here for the holidays.

He gets me a red-and-white reindeer sweater for Christmas, like the four before it, and I hate that he won’t be here for the holidays, because the moment he turns on the music system, sipping his red wine, snapping his fingers to jingle bells, smiling at me like I’m the only one for him and there was and never will be anybody else, like I can’t see the Cherry Lush smudge on his lapel or sniff Revlon Charlie Red on his self, I shove him down the stairs and watch him fall.

Red wine all over the place.

Unplugged

Keyword: Blackout

Blackout. Dead cell. Bruised knee, burnt fingertips. Who’s that? I ask, nerves on edge. The shape moves with me, and I laugh.

Hello, self. How have you been all this time?

The Call

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There once lived a woman by the name of Rose, in an old, weather-beaten farmhouse shaped by the hands of the generations past. They had sunk their souls into this ground, and raised not just a cottage, but a garden of herbs, a citrus orchard, and a land that grew from flowers to wheat and rice.

As the sun set each day on the sallow hills at the edge of the village, and on the plains lush green with the season’s crop, where a stream tossed and turned as it made its way to the next village, she stood atop a table rock, under the shade of an oak tree, and waited for the birds to sing. The loose strands of her hair otherwise tied up in an uneven knot gently moved in the soothingly warm summer breeze. The hem of her frock and underskirt, caked with mud from her long walk — from the cottage, through the untended fields, to the table rock view — drifted in the wind with equal ease.

She hadn’t heard the birds sing in years.

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Toronto Whites

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You are a teenage girl in a man’s sports world. You can’t make a pass, you suck at volleyball, your backhand is lame, and the queen eludes you on the carrom board. But you love spectator sports. And you’re crazy about cricket and the Indian team. Even though you can’t follow the game very well, and the balling end changes send your mid-off orientation smashing through the window. You ask Dad why the batsman is out leg before wicket when his leg cannot be detached from his body and he as a whole has to stand in front of the wicket to avoid being bold. Or is it bolt?

You zap your brother a quizzical look embedded with what did he say?

A white ball? But isn’t the ball red?

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Holdup

Keyword: Leverage

You think you know me? I say. You see messy hair, slippers, shabby, oversized clothes and you think you’ve figured me out?

No, says the supervisor manning the counter.

I could be an heiress, a millionaire, a top-notch executive having a bad day, you know?

The man nods in understanding.

I could even look like her, I say, waving at the girl beside him. She has sharp, bright eyes and a smart, sexy haircut. If I cleaned up, I clarify.

Sure, he agrees, wiping his brow with the back of his hand.

It’s just baby fat, I add. Comes and goes. I can’t stop blabbering. It’s like I have verbal diarrhea, an undeniable need to explain. Wait till you have two kids, back to back, I say to the girl.

I was like her once. Young, pretty, going places. One coffee pour at a time at the most happening PR firm in town. I could have been someone. Not just a wife or a mother to two demented toddlers who never slept.

People lose a lot more than their looks, I say to her.

Obviously, she mutters and rolls her eyes.

I beg your pardon? I say. You think I have lost my marbles, do you?

She shrugs, despite her boss shaking his head at her to say no.

Well, yeah, she says with disgust. Otherwise, why would you be holding up the cafe with a toy gun? That’s bubble gum at the tip of the barrel. Not splattered brain.

It’s even in your hair.

I stare at her. At her boss who’s abandoned his fearful calm and is shaking his head in disbelief. I look around at the scattered line behind me coming together again. Emerging from under the tables. Behind pillars. Off the floor. Muttering, sneering, some even laughing with relief.

You know how a coffee can change your day? I half say, half implore. The supervisor doesn’t nod in understanding. And I lower the water pistol and sigh.

Just an hour back, I had been at the receiving end of the gun, fighting off two monsters hell bent on using me as a moving target, a punching bag. Before I stole the darn thing and ran out.

I just needed a caramel latte. Extra foam, extra fast.