Saturday, April 7

The British Museum Making Her Laugh

The day before had been terribly busy so I worked late and then, not being able to stand much more, I left for home, taking the work with me. It would be easier there, at home. Working with music and beer is much easier. Offices are stifling places; imagine spending nine hours a day in one – but for cigarette breaks and a walk at lunch. There is only one fruit to working in an office and that is of working with others with whom you get along, become friends; perhaps the friendship strengthens your resolve against the office, and work is easier, as I have found; a kind of trench mentality manifests itself. Maybe you will become lucky and take a fancy to a particular person, someone who blurs the lines of endearment between friendship and romance, someone who makes the walk to work a little more forgiving, someone you miss when you’re not at work.
I suppose that is where M—y lies.
It’s her laugh. In my years I have not experienced a laugh like hers, for it is an experience, the sight and sound, before the laugh, after the laugh, it is a wild laugh; mostly it is loud and amplified through this smile and that is that. It is a laugh that makes me laugh, or at least smile. Parasitically, I feed off her laugh. M—y’s laugh makes me laugh. I will make her laugh and then her laugh makes me laugh. One of my favourite things is making her laugh. I will begin a new line because I love to make her laugh so much.
One of my favourite things is making her laugh.
If Making Her Laugh was an actual thing, then it would be exhibited in the British Museum, and tourists would travel from far & wide to see it, and I would visit every day, buy postcards of it, maybe a tea-towel too, and I would not get bored of Making Her Laugh. The temperature of the room – dedicated – would be perfect. Everyone would remove their coats. Food and drink would be permitted. Tourists would take photographs of them posing next to Making Her Laugh, and others in baseball caps would talk loudly around it—‘It’s even better in real life!’ they would say. There would be a kid or two who would not appreciate Making Her Laugh, but in two decade’s time they would come back and say, nostalgic, smiling—‘I saw this as a kid but I didn’t appreciate it then… it’s incredible.’ Of course I would be there, speaking to the security guard—‘Any trouble today?’ And the security guard would say—‘A man fainted earlier.’ And I would say—‘Who can blame him?’ Every newspaper would give the exhibition five stars. International museums would beg and plead to be lent Making Her Laugh, just for a season, but the British Museum would decline. And I would never sign off on a thing like that anyway.
Sometimes I would really make her laugh. I try to do that at least once a week. Her laugh goes silent, she bends over, one hand clutching her stomach, the other waving for me to stop, she weeps and struggled to breathe, but I quite like making her laugh so I continue. And then she wipes away the tears the way women do. I smile at her and she does some other smaller laughs and clears her throat, and I am satisfied.
We left the bar at around eleven, three others and myself. It had been a reasonable evening, nothing special, but there are many nights like that. I daresay we were quite intoxicated, not stumbling but merry. We were asking the night where else it wanted to take us. We were walking along Moorgate and then up London Wall. I don’t know what happened but the other two went off along, leaving me and M—y to be alone. We had our own evening now and were making our way in laughter and frolics. The train station had its own grade of light pollution, and a focus of commuters entering the white, filled with announcements, drunks and metal on metal. She wanted something to eat, so we went to the fast food restaurant. No longer was I thinking much about Making Her Laugh, but simply enjoying her company, a company that came, to me at least, very naturally, and a company I did not want to end. She ordered food but I did not. She could have gone to catch her train but she did not. Instead she sat down, and I thought – deep down in the murkiness of my mind – that it was good to sit down next to her at midnight with fast food, hearing trains in the distance, watching others, talking gently. She shared with me. At first I declined (understanding the taste of my own food after a night out) but she insisted and we shared her burger. She took a few bites and then I took a bite. Her saliva and teeth had been at the bun, the meat, the garnish. Her saliva and teeth played some part in her laugh. I thought of swallowing that. You can’t share a hamburger with someone without consuming a small piece of their laugh. So we sat there and she ate a hamburger and shared it with me and I ate some of her laugh. It tasted delicious. One could not be sure whether it was the quality of the meat, or the taste of her laugh; but knowing the fast food outlet, it was definitely the taste of her laugh: unbeatable, second to none, remarkable. She gave me a sip of her drink, and that tasted of her laugh as well; it was meant to taste of orange, but it tasted of her laugh. There are scientists and factories set up to make drinks like that taste of orange and then M—y comes along and makes them taste of her laugh. It was pleasant though, to sit there, on a statue of evacuee children, and taste her laugh. I could have sat there forever, on that statue of evacuee children and shared a hamburger with her, beneath the darkness of brown London skies, tasting her laugh.
And I would visit the British Museum and say to tourists—‘You know, I tasted that.’ And they would stare at my eyes, not really understanding me, clutching their cameras—‘I said, I’ve tasted that.’ And they would exchange words in a foreign language with each other and I would know they hadn’t understood me. What a shame.

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