The owner’s wife at my local Portuguese cafe has greeted me by making a new "tall glass" gesture for my regular latte order. I nodded. I liked that moment. In my ten years of coming here almost daily, I’ve never even come close to this kind of familiar gesture. Is that our thing now, the "tall glass" gesture? I hope so. I’d be disappointed if she doesn’t make it again tomorrow. Maybe that’s what’s been missing from my life. The gesture. She should be aware now that she’s set a precedent. I’ll be expecting this every time she serves me now.
But now I’m asking myself, was it spontaneous? Or had she been thinking about it for a while? Does she have a gesture for all her customers or just a select few? If the latter, why did I only make this shortlist now? Is there something I’ve done in recent weeks that has suddenly seen me elevated onto this exalted list?
I have so many gesture-related questions. Like, did she have a shortlist of gestures for me before deciding on the tall glass? Does she have a "Portuguese toast" gesture for me? Did she run the tall glass gesture by the owner in bed last night?
When the owner asked, suspiciously, whom the gesture was for, did she avert her eyes and say "the Spaniard. You know, the one with the hair".
"The one with the jumper that's too short for him," the owner might've responded somewhat cruelly, unaware that this short jumper is the least of my current problems. He has no idea I’m currently building a fold up bed every night. He doesn’t see me rise awkwardly from my seat on the tube every morning, struggling with a heavy bag and failing to adjust to a shorter cable on my new Skull Candy headset. That those on my carriage standing hurriedly move out of my way as if I’m disabled and even, on occasion, help me off the carriage at Stockwell. As far as the owner’s concerned, today I’m getting the tall glass gesture, tomorrow I’m getting his wife. The owner’s wife would’ve ignored such a snide comment. She knows he's jealous.
I can’t allow my instant love for this gesture to end her marriage.
The owner wouldn't be happy that his wife of forty years had devoted time to coming up with a specific gesture for me and would've spent last night on the sofa. He’d be casting his mind back to see if she made identical tall glass gestures to other, less handsome customers. He would now be doubting how well he really knew his wife, who hailed from the same town as him and started dating when she was sixteen.
She would've had to spend the night coming up with gestures for other customers. Uglier customers. Customers she didn’t like. Customers that smelt. Customers that weren’t me.
The owner will probably be down at some point to observe the gesture in action and how I greet it. Is the gesture over quickly or does his wife drag it out? Is she using it as a prelude? A prelude to what?
It may be that I have to take his wife to one side and tell her the tall glass gesture needs to end. That I’ll never forget it, but I can’t allow my instant love for this gesture to end her marriage. I’ve gone without this gesture for the ten years I’ve been coming here. To experience it once is enough.
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