It is said that a man’s disposition can be ascertained by his quickness to laugh. Laugh too soon and you’re a frivolous, eager to please; laugh too long, or too loud, and you’ve got no self-restrain.

Too late a laugh, often a scoff or a grunt, warranties that you are given to brooding, and are altogether too self-absorbed, only re-entering the conversation when a snippet breaks through your musings, or furthers them, with quips that have more than often no bearing on the actual conversation at hand.

No laugh and/or a frown, and you’re either a bore or a fool, too slow-witted to follow the clever retorts, or a snob, who’d rather be in the company of other, more interesting people than this.

But a laugh, full and hearty, that graces magnanimously all who fall in its path, that eases the crinkles in agitated spirits, and that lights the amber within one and all, now that’s different. Its timber, its rise and fall the very symphony of life itself. Its infectious presence a reminder that life’s a merry carnival and we are all here to rejoice.

The bearer of this laugh — sitting upright on a high-back armchair, shoulders thrown back in easy debate over the future of literature and the written word, lit delightfully by a Moroccan lamp stand in the corner, and surrounded by eager ears — could be called charming, good-natured, well-groomed, a lady’s man.

But whether he is a gentleman or a cad, to be taken seriously or dismissed as the season’s new flavor, I cannot tell. Only time could resolve this debate; although good sense, as documented in the novels of which he is such a fan, at once warns us to the folly of trusting such a man. For many lies have slipped past such a welcoming mouth. Many an endearment casually offered without a second thought.

He smiles warmly at me, like I am the only one in the room, and for now, in the absence of better prospects and good company, it is enough to bask in the brightness of this merry man.


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