"I should like to propose a toast," began Charles Portis, raising his glass to the air.
A toast?! I stared into the dregs of my fizzy lemonade, mortified. It had been downed in a single gulp.
How was I to have known Charles would reserve this moment to pay homage to yet another observation of the finer things in life?
But I should have known. He was famous in certain circles for such tributes and I was beginning to suspect these so called unstudied deliveries between us were merely fodder for his greater moments in the spotlight.
"To you, my dear."
I choked on my Ritter Sport and brushed the crumbs aside, knowing how my penchant for cornflake dipped chocolate pained the little fellow. I couldn't even defend myself on the matter. Cornflake dipped chocolate, for crying out loud! The dead giveaway of a total rube.
But Charles was on a roll tonight. Not even the disappointment of an unsophisticated snack could stop him.
"Yes, to you. Don't think I haven't noticed your undying affection, your starry-eyed gaze, the way you hang upon my every word."
So I had been too obvious! I clenched my fists in despair. Was inscrutability ever to elude my grasping ways?!
"We've had two happy months together, you and I. That's like, a century, in mantid years."
I stiffened. Two months was not even close to a century in mantid years! What was the subtext of this compliment??
"We've had a lot of growth along the way, me especially."
I stiffened again. Trust a molter to take such things for granted.
He was referring, of course, to his critically acclaimed show wherein he perched, motionless, upon a wafer thin strip of paper for hours on end. It was entitled Praying Nemo and I was the one who held him there, fighting the urge to say the mere act of latinating what he did on a daily basis hardly elevated it to the standard of art!
But I held my tongue, not wanting to sound like a total rube.
What did it matter, anyway? Such concessions make up the bedrock of any great relationship.
I sat back and smiled, raising my empty glass to him.
"Here's to another century, darling," I said.