April 27, 2006

"Karl, would you like another piece of cake?" I asked, knowing I had to tread lightly. "Or, perhaps some more coffee?" I was heartbroken to see that he had taken only a nibble of the rum baba. On the other hand, I didn't want to mislead him with too much kindness. He had obviously gotten the wrong impression about me, and I felt tres stupide for not seeing it earlier.

"No, thank you. I think I will go now," he replied with eyes downcast. "I've had a lovely time." Karl, usually so debonair, wasn't even bothering to hide his lie.

"Could I at least send some dessert home with you?" I asked. Seeing his long face, I felt so guilty, and yet righteous. If Karl harbored illusions about me, I had no interest in fostering them. Mais oui, it was flattering, but he couldn't hold a candle to my husband. Especially not tonight- after all the liquor, Filthy would probably go up in flames!

Terry got Karl's coat and he waved a wan goodbye before leaving. The rest of the party was just hitting its stride, and many of the guests barely noticed his farewell. Suzette did, and waved cheerfully, but quickly resumed her heated argument with Ken. How was one supposed to draw "faith," anyway?

"It's just as well," opined Terry.

"What do you mean, dearie?" I asked, although I thought I knew.

"Let's just say that we're having a pretty good time, without Mr. Achtung over there," offered Filthy from across that room. He then performed his German-esque "small potato man dance," which is one of his major talents, although perhaps not the kindest thing to do given the situation.

"Oh stop," giggled Lois. I was amazed at her lack of indignation. I had been under the impression that she and Karl were as thick as two fabric connoisseurs could possibly be, as close as Velcro.

Suzette pretended to be so involved in her debate with Ken that she didn't hear this conversation. "He didn't stay very long, did he?" asked Frederick, almost gloating. "I guess people in At-lant-a don't appreciate fun parties." I could see a slight wince, barely a shadow, pass over Suzette's face. Infatuation had already turned to pity, mes amis.

I knew not to make too much of this reversal, and left it at, "Karl's a nice guy. Perhaps he was feeling shy this evening." Then, I joined in the Pictionary war being waged in my living room.
My dears, I tried to appear carefree and fun-loving for the rest of the evening, but something rankled in my big, chintz-covered heart. Despite my best efforts, the guest of honor left feeling bad. That was sorry enough. However, Karl's bad feelings could have major ramifications for our little Hancock Fabrics. Would we arrive at work tomorrow, only to find that none of us had jobs anymore? Or, would the torture be slower and more cruel- invasive new polices, weekly memos, micro-management?

Oh well. Tomorrow is tomorrow is tomorrow. If Karl was going to exact revenge, at least I could enjoy some chocolate cake tonight.

This Week, Mrs. Filthy's Reading:

I, Elizabeth: A Novel by Rosamund Miles