Humphrey Jameson was leaning over the London Daily, the top button of his shirt straining against his scrawny Adam’s apple, when his wife entered the kitchen. “Geranium!” he cried, lunging forward. “I thought Celia asked you to tea.” His left sleeve, which was completely empty, dangled off the edge of the table.
“She only wanted an invite to my dinner party,” said Geranium in an octave that caused dogs to cower. “She wants to flaunt that ridicules ostrich plume head dress while clucking about like a chicken—the brainless twit.”
“She not brainless—”
“Those aren’t brains, Humphrey,” said Geranium, checking her watch. “You’re almost due for your afternoon ogle.” She opened the window above the sink and bellowed, “Keep your drawers on, Celia! He’ll be out in a minute!”
Next to the stove, hung a floral apron, which Geranium then wrapped around her stalwart middle. She puffed her short, rigid coif twice before arriving at the sink. Once there, she grasped a flopping mackerel by the tail and flung it behind her. She hummed a tune as she checked the seating chart she’d pulled from her apron pocket. Finally, she looked at her husband who hadn’t moved one inch. “Something good in the paper, eh?”
“Good is relative.” Humphrey slid his body back into his chair, pulling the newspaper with him. “Unless, they’re your relatives, of course.”
“Humphrey, what’s in the paper? I insist upon knowing.”
“Don’t you have hosiery to buy at the department store?”
“No, I stocked up last week.”
“Any Frenchmen to insult?”
“That can wait till tonight’s dinner party.”
“Yes, I told you about it at the end of last week’s dinner party. When I said the Bakers were off the guest list permanently. But you’re trying to divert me. You’re much too skinny to go that route. Now what is it?”
Reluctantly Humphrey pushed the newspaper back onto the table and took a gulp of tea. “It’s a survey—“
“Ghastly! And on the night of my dinner party. What do you think about seating the Winslets next to the Spencers?”
“Don’t you want to know what it’s about?”
“What what’s about?”
“Can’t it wait till I purchase more hosiery?”
“All right. Stop your groveling.” Her arms dropped to her sides, and with her hands stuck out at right angles, she penguin-walked to the table and sat.
“Is that a new walk, dear?”
“Yes, I picked it up yesterday while fueling.”
“All right, then,” said Humphrey, turning to page four. “Signs You’re Living a British Comedy.”
“A joke, is it?”
“Number one. You own more sweaters than you do teeth.”
“Oh, my,” exclaimed Geranium, running her tongue along her bridges. “I don’t like that. What’s next?”
“You’ve had an appendage or two or three or four lopped off in a sword fight.”
“That’s a relief,” said Geranium. “Yours was more of a machete accident, wasn’t it?”
“Number three,” continued Humphrey. “You see the value of a tea cozy.”
“Oh, quite right—that doesn’t mean anything.”
“What about this one: ‘You have a severely traditional, yet distant and somewhat bitter relationship with God.’”
“God help us, who wrote this rubbish?” Geranium said, smacking the table. “He’s never around when you need Him.”
“Do you find obscure fish in obscure places?” Humphrey pressed on, beginning to enjoy himself.
“Nooo—“ she said, getting up and kicking the mackerel under the refrigerator.
“Do you find it impossible not to laugh when you see a man dressed in women’s clothing?”
Geranium leaned back on the counter. “It’s not impossible. But I do so get a good chuckle at a man in a wig.”
“Do Americans shake their heads and shrug their shoulders when you speak?”
“Not the clever ones.”
“Do you hate the establishment, yet claw your way up?”
“They’re just dinner parties, really.”
“Do your clothes and furniture predate the early 60s?”
“Are you fascinated with innuendo, the absurd, the macabre, the pun, the non sequitur, the class system, social ineptitude, self-deprecation, and parodies of stereotypes?”
“Stop, Humphrey! I beg of you. What are you saying?”
Celia’s red head suddenly popped up in the kitchen window. “He’s saying you’re a wart on the nose that is British comedy, you brainless twit.”
A quake erupted from Geranium Jameson’s ample and low-lying bosom. “That’s it!” she yelled as the credits began rolling. “Humphrey, willst thou fetch me my Holy Hand Grenade? Under my stockings, third drawer down.”
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