Commentary: Do You Want Me?

Chapter: Did You Hear About Our Secret Hotel-Motel Passage?

     Montgomery Overbove #1 and I stood in silence, likely both thinking about how we were both standing in silence. I realized how much I valued Monty to beMonty things up at times like this. And “times like this” were happening pretty much all the time, ‘round the clock, over the last day. When I'm in an awkward silent moment, that's usually my first thought: It's so quiet! Also, Monty's knack for beMontying things up continues on its robust upward trajectory in "Redwoodian" and "Stay Awhile." I can't and won't stop him.
     Then, a loud sound, sort of a steely thurp, thurped near the counter. Gomery and I jumped and turned to see an old-fashioned chrome appliance next to the dish rack ejecting two pieces of toast, with force. After gaining some impressive air, the two squares fell to the counter, one partially on top of the other. Crumbs skittered and settled in their bready wake. How do crumbs move? Skittering worked, though some might say they slide.
     We glanced around the empty restaurant. I stood on tiptoe and peered behind the counter into quiet kitchen. The only other person in the diner walked to the room’s lobby entrance, hands on hips, and peeked around the corner. When he finally turned to look at me, I shrugged. He shrugged back. The kitchen of the Motel Fairwil diner is quite petite. When I do little future stories for the blog one day -- oh, and I will -- I can see visiting this spot on occasion. And the motelier's and hotelier's shrugs here are something I rather like. Friends who can easily talk in shrug are well on their way to full-on conversations spoken in Look.
     “Yes, please.” Gomery doesn't feel the need to dissect every weirdness. He has a habit of jumping a little along, to get to where the action is. So rather than saying "wow, that was odd" he's like, "well, now we have toast. Maybe Fair wants some."
     He went behind the counter and liberally buttered both pieces of bread. I didn’t move.
     “Yes, please.”
     “Let’s see,” he muffled from beneath the counter. “We have an assortment. An impressive assortment, I might add. Hold on. Don’t tell me.” I picture him being a little embarrassed at using the word "assortment," which is kind of fancy-pants, and when he says "impressive assortment" he's just thinking to himself "stop that."
      The sudden chef tucked his tie into his shirt and took his pen from behind his ear, clipping it onto the top part of his tie. Next he put the cherry jam jar on the counter, and then the grape, and unscrewed both lids. Then he cherry’d a slice, put it on a plain white plate, circled the counter, and handed it to me. True fact: Gomery tucking his tie into his shirt is a part of "Wilfair" -- heck, any of the books -- that I'm sweet on. I don't know why, exactly, except I like the little movements people do without thinking, and the tie-tucking is something he's done numerous times over the years. Also? Him cherrying a slice. Yesssss! Also? He didn't just put the plate on the counter for Fair to walk forward and retrieve, which would have been just fine, but not at all Gomeryesque. He's a counter-circler-plate-hander, not a come-and-get-it-plunker-of-plates.
      He then walked behind to the counter once more, returned the cherry to the small refrigerator, got a fresh knife, stood for a moment, screwed the lid back on the grape, and returned it, and arose again with the cherry. The clean knife was stowed, and he slathered cherry jam with the knife that had been conveniently pre-cherry-jam’d. In his own subtle way, he's telling Fair he's in her camp here. Same jam=same side. That's how I see it, anyway. That "stood for a moment" is him deciding if his next move'll be too obvious. He opts not to care if it is.
     Gomery stood behind the counter, eating his toast, and I stood in the same spot I’d been in for several minutes, eating mine, and several thoughts bumped around my bread-chewing head. I wondered why he had invited me back to watch Prior Yates, a notorious nightclub-hanger-outer. Then I thought again of what he said, to Monty, in reference to the Motel Fairwil’s prized club sandwich: “Once she gets her hands on that particular secret we’ll never see her again.” May I remind Fair Finley of a line she hasn't yet spoken? "I live in the world of my head. I really, really do." This is all Exhibit A. Classic.
     Was a movie star the attractive bait to get me to come back over? I watched the non-movie-star, non-nightclub-hanger-outer chew his toast, and I suddenly wanted to say everything to him. And everything about that urge surprised me. I'm interested in the moment that particular urge flips from "I have to protect myself from this person" to "I want this person to know an awful lot about me."
     Because I wasn’t sure what everything contained, how long it would take to say, or where it even began. Plus, I felt like my version of everything wasn’t everything, anyway. What does everything begin with, anyway? Yes, "e" is the simple answer, but there could be more to it. Oh, Fair.
     And anyway, what was the first word when you wanted to say everything? Where did you even start? I suspected “I,” but I wasn’t going to say that. Not right now you won't. But you haven't slid around on the ice outside The Redwoodian, yet, or shared an omelet.
     So I looked back through the trees, into the 500 Dip Bar, and thought about what everything might be comprised of. Then I thought about what was real, and about optical illusions, and why the motel boys could see into our restaurant when we couldn’t see into theirs, and what happens when a real hotel manager playing fake movie star meets a real movie star making a fake detective show at a real motel.
     Sakes. do dah is a fan of "sakes." I remember when readers tell me they like stuff! Hi, do dah.
     Shaking the sakes, I faced the counter. Guilty -- I like words that sound alike.
     “Gomeryff,” I full-mouthed. “Is this the breadff youff use in your club ffandwich?” I realized that although I’d said his name aloud in my room, and I’d said it to Sutton and my parents, I had never, ever said the name to the name’s namesake. Which made the fact that I uttered it in a crumb-spraying fashion especially notable, unforgettable, and mortifyable, too. It's one of the running bits of "Wilfair" -- how many times Fair thinks she has said Gomery's name. That the first time she says it to him should be messy and crumb-packed makes my heart happy. Although I'm not sure she has kept perfect count. She has been over to the motel to complain a lot in her life, and surely she let a "Gomery" slip now and then. She is paying attention now to the name count because something has clicked between them. Just my opinion!
     He held up a finger, and finished chewing. He wasn’t in a rush, and, after a few moments, he set his plate on the counter, pulled a napkin out of the shiny holder, wiped butter off his fingers, and took a long sip of water. Then he spoke. “You will get our swimming pool before I tell you what’s in the club sandwich.” It wasn’t meanly stated, but it was factual. Everything he said seemed to have an air of “look it up if you like”-ness about it, and this last statement was no different. Gomery is a deeply unrushed human. He's rarely checking his phone and he's inside whatever moment he's occupying. He likes Fair, but he's going to finish chewing, because by his calculations things are going pretty well with her and they'll have a lot of time to come to talk. Also? Him saying that -- "you will get our swimming pool before I tell you what's in the club sandwich" -- has now come to pass. He was completely correct. Spoiler alert!
     The keeper of the sandwich secret collected my plate and began to clear the last of the coffee cups from a nearby table. He headed into the lobby, smoothing his tie of any toastly stragglers. Tie-smoothing, as mentioned in a post below, is a base for me in the books. Also? I still rather like "toastly stragglers" though I can appreciate that some readers might think of a word pairing like that as Wilfair-flavored quirky.
     “Do you want me—?” I started.
     He stepped back into the diner from the lobby. “Do I want you—?” Yeah. If you read this and thought "is AGP going for innocent saucepottery here, as in flirty-flirty double-meaning, you. Are. Absolutely. Right.
     “—to take your pool?” I finished.
     The saying of everything might not start with “I.” But I’m pretty sure “Do you want me to take your pool?” is not an appropriate second choice. Wellll. I don't know about that. The corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue is kind of its own universe on what is appropriate to say or not.
     I’d always told myself that every time I uttered something frilly and non-direct, which happened dozens of times each day, I would put the directness and frankness that had gone untapped into an account. I’d even thought of it as my own “direct” deposit, ready to be dipped into when I finally figured out how to be direct, and moreover, brave. But I’d never predicted that I’d go to the bank and clean out my entire savings via eight hastily delivered words. And I did it without fluttering or flustering or absently fluffing my corsage, or worse, all three things at once. Gosh darn it but yep, here it is: The "Wilfair" books are about being direct. AND forearms. And some other things, like missed opportunities and taking chances and friendship and getting over crap, but DIRECTNESS. Delivered kindly. Holler!
     The club-sandwich-making future physicist stood in the lobby entrance and stared not at me, but the toaster. “This would one hundred percent be the ideal moment for two random pieces of toast to fly out of that toaster. Much more ideal than three minutes ago. However, I was very recently over there, and I happen to know that toaster is totally devoid of toast. Which is unfortunate. There are some studies that say any two highly charged occurrences that happen extremely close together can be reworked. Outcomes and such.” He put a hand on the back of his neck. “But results aren’t very advanced in that arena. We might nudge the unnoticeable elements effectively. Say, the pattern of the crumbs scattered on the counter, or how sticky the top of the jam jar happens to be. But we’d have to repeat what we’ve just done, over and over, to goose even the smallest transformation, and I doubt anyone should eat a thousand pieces of toast, simply to change something that was asked. And really, we could stand here and eat an infinite number of pieces of toast, and altering what was said, or implied, or thought, or wanted, would be totally unachievable At least at this point. In various studies. There’s an order to things, ultimately.” He sighed a shoulder-dropping sigh, and walked into the lobby. And then he stepped back into the diner. “All of that shouldn’t imply that toast can’t change things. Even premature toast. Especially premature toast.” Gomery is brainy, for sure, and maybe slightly annoying in these long, idea-stuffed speeches, but all of us gotta fly our flag. And these science-y, vaguely philosophical think-throughs are GXO flying his flag high.
     And with that, he departed once more, and did not return.
     I figured that if I grabbed hold of the words “especially premature toast” and climbed back up through what he said, I’d be as successful as an uncoordinated kid going hand-over-hand up the rope on the first day of gym class. I’d probably never reach the top of Gomery’s speech. And, when I got there, would I have gathered the right clues to interpret his answer to my question? Gomery, to me, answered her question here. Actually, he answers two of Fair's questions, in my mind, including one she didn't ask. "(W)e could stand here and eat an infinite number of pieces of toast" and "smallest transformation" and "totally unachievable" are likely veiled thoughts he's working through about his neighbor. There are also some nice, juicy love words in there: two, close together, advanced, nudge, sticky, goose, wanted. Not to look too deeply, of course. :)
     And did I even want that answer, if he indeed gave one?
     I am toast.
     You are not toast, Fair Finley."Toast" implies a warm breadstuff, but you'll be quite cold, for various snow-ice-pool water reasons, in the days ahead. Hang tight! 
     I like these little commentaries because I get to go back and tell the characters not to worry. Or to worry. Or to shape up and stop fussing. Do they listen, though? Do they???

cr: Shoshanah


do dah said...

"The 'Wilfair' books are about being direct. AND forearms."
This is basically the perfect tagline. Time for a movie! Although I actually never want to see this in movie form, because it's too difficult to capture thought patterns in a movie... and it can't star Prior Yates.

Also, hi! "Saucepottery" is my new favorite word/concept, now. :) Innocent saucepottery, doubly so.

Also also,* I might never have been able to forgive Gomery if he'd chosen the grape jelly. Because I appreciated his statement, but also because grape jelly has always been a symbol of disappointment to me (it's a flavor I consume only when the restaurant is out of everything else. And I am always kind of grumpy about it). So... good choice, Gomery. I also enjoyed your convoluted set of answers.

And now I want toast. This, however, has more to do with the yummy picture.

*Kelly, I adore this. Using it.

Wilfair Book said...

do dah: Fear not -- I think it will only ever be a movie on this blog! Which is a-ok by me. That way we can tweak it and direct it and recast it to our hearts' content.

Innocent saucepottery is the clean-burning fuel that burns bright in the engine of the Wilfair steamer. Fact.

Now. Let's talk about grape jelly. I want to be on all of my Wilfriends' sides about everything they like and don't like -- I really do -- but what can I say here? We'll never be on the same page. My heart is heavy.

I do like grape jelly, if only because it has the weirdest, slice-iest consistency of all the jellies. It isn't even a flavor thing but texture. Right? The texture is just odd.

I like grape-flavored anything, actually, grapes or not grapes, but I don't want to talk about fake banana flavor. I can't. No. Walking away now.

(Running back to hug you, do dah, for leaving a great comment, but now am stalking off again, thinking foul thoughts about fake banana flavor.)

do dah said...

do you have a special face for stalking off while thinking foul thoughts about fake banana flavor? because you probably should. even if you only ever deploy it in secret. mostly because it's likely to make you laugh.

i dislike both fake banana flavor and fake grape flavor with great intensity. both have candy exceptions, however: banana laffy taffy, which just tastes like itself, and grape meiji hi-chews, which actually taste like lake niagra grapes. these are the grapes i am able to access straight from the vine (occasionally), and they remind me of summer and delightfulness.

i'm actually in a generally anti-jelly phase right now -- i finally overdosed on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and jelly took the fall -- but grape fell the furthest. i think it's too sweet for it's tartness? of course, i've said all of this, and am now thinking about orange marmalade with a decided lip curl. maybe grape has some competition.

Wilfair Book said...

do dah: I've thought about this comment for a few days now and have decided to come clean: I WILL eat banana laffy taffy, if only because it is laffy taffy, and that is one of the greatest of great candies. It's particular mouth-feel and sourness cannot be duplicated.

Also, hi-chews in any flavor get my immediate approval. But my issue is I will eat the WHOLE role, or rectangle (?) in one sitting.

I cannot comment on your anti-jelly sentiments. I can only await your return to the jelly-loving fold with eagerness.

Marmalade was something I came to later in life, like licorice. I like it, but jelly and jam are still my sun and moon (if the sun and moon could be spread on toast, that is).

PS I have no fake banana flavor face but now I intend to get one.

PPS What's your opinion of lime curd and lemon curd? I fervently hope we're on the same page here. Keeping mum though.

Wilfair Book said...


do dah said...

the bbc has toast science!

my family tends to refer to hi chews as "crack candy" because, exactly: you have to eat ALL OF THEM. EVERY TIME. luckily they still take effort to find in most parts of the US. so delicious.

i have issues with heavily egg-based desserts that inhibit my ability to form an opinion in this case. namely, i have to be able to stop thinking about the eggs long enough to focus on the flavor, and that hardly ever happens. if eggs and i were famous lovers, we would be heathcliff and cathy. our relationship is extremely volatile, mostly on account of texture but also occasionally because fetus. deviled eggs, however, seem to exist on another plane entirely, and i love them almost always. horseradish conquers all. (this may, in fact, be one of the strangest collections of words i have ever typed).

also, i love that laffy taffy is such a high-stakes confession. :)

Wilfair Book said...

Toast + science! Two of my favorite-tist things.

I hear you on eggs. They're one of my go-to foods on nearly a daily basis -- don't be mad at me, cholesterol experts! -- but if egg is folded into another dish, well. The texture of the dish has a high chance of being a little too, uh. Eggy for me.

I KNOW. This makes no sense. But take the frittata. There's something a little too soft in its middle for my palate. I want to love it, I do, but I have to take my eggs straight up, as in scrambled or fried.

We agree on laffy taffy, though. Yet another true connection between us, do dah. Brings a tear.

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