The café erupts in laughter. Perhaps we are doing something wrong. We are not laughing. That these fellows, with their bent arms, their books and likewise oblivious and offhand dismissals, are laughing at us in a distinct possibility. Perhaps we are to grave. That they think this is not a secret. Our turtlenecks and cigarillos are certainly not cause for humorous alarm, nor should my companions salmon-spirited muffler (corduroy-easily of league quality or better) raise any suspicion that even one frivolous or inappropriate act has been committed.

Whether or not we are specifically guilty of levity is not important. Levity has been established, and the mood of the café has, therefore, suffered. We are thinkers of the first water. We are doers of the first water, for how can one think without later considering the moral and philosophical implications of one’s actions. NO thinker has greater gravity than the doer/thinker. What is done is less important than the quality of thought which follows the doing. We act, and later we ponder this. In general this impetuous behaviour (indispensable as philosophical tool for the doer/thinker) has taken place long before we meet, for I cannot say that any of us has seen any of the others act, or otherwise, do. The doing has been done, and we ponder this. The thinker/doer is nearly as grave, but suffers from accusations of hesitance.

I am certain I saw at least one of the gents at the third table laughing at us, and in at least a peripheral sense, at Pilate. He has been wrestling with the decorative plants near the display of holiday tea eggs. I suspect he is responsible for the grisly defronding of a particularly charming boston fern earlier this month. It is the consensus of the group that only he could fell so noble a plant so decisively. Recriminations waft, the merest spores, fueled by the gossip that comprises all café weather, but no determinations are made. That man’s thumbs are as black as pitch.

Guffaws arrive, from the mocha enclave. It is the sort of laughing one expects from a heavily medaled undercover operative who, having recently retired, may speak freely about his assignments, secure in the knowledge that no one will believe him. The mood of this place has degraded further. I wince. My companions wince similarly. We operate as a unit in these matters. We are impressed only collectively. Strength in numbers—disappointment is more piquante when experienced en masse. I remain more than lightly disturbed by these repeated breaches of conduct. The aspect of our collective mythology which deserves the most reverence, the most mortal element of this coil, is being treated with an understated disrespect (the worst sort). We, collectively, are pained to witness the finest and most sacrosanct of arenae (barring the the inclusion of the sweeping wing and the turbinado cellar), mocked so subtly.

I would intervene, but that would belie not concern, but a decided interest in acts neither described in verse nor pondered by my companions—in a word, unacceptable. I raise an eyebrow and dismiss the enclave’s woefully inappropriate mirth. Eyebrows raise, encircling the table. Dismissals to a man. A powerful unstatement has been not made. Collective disapproval without hesitation and without remorse. Despite the antiheroic non-efforts of our unified disapproval, the laughter continues and indeed, strengthens.

Party hat laughter
Scarves of laughter
Oversized hippie coats of laughter
8-track laughter
am preset knobs of laughter
rented tuxedo laughter
ill-fitting, spouse purchased laughter
look what the cat drug in laughter
lon chaney phantom laughter
organ pounding, hidden faced laughter
wave after finite, bounded wave of calculated romantic laughter
one shirt too many laughter
laughter from the roof of the mouth, loosening shingles and dislodging gutter flashing
yard raking laughter
visiting friend laughter (both in and out of town)

small laughter
no medium laughter, due to franchise wide restructuring efforts
large laughter (30 cents beyond the bounds of contemporary laughter)
according to exceptional wit, summoning super size and
holiday promotion gigantism laughter
(given a receptive and cooperative audience)
a chuckling acromegaly
just in time for Christmas

distant frowns approach
local giggles counter quickly and evolve into category III bushfire laughter
requiring the intervention of a highly trained and reasonably well compensated smoke-jumper unit from logan utah
slowing finally to a non-threatening minor blaze
of chortles and fading guffaws
the unmistakable hoo hoo hoot of studio laughter
nonlinear canned laughter
engineered for greater spontaneity.

They, the myriad café jesters, not the mormon flame suppression gang, do not appreciate this place. They mock it simply by being here, even in their conspicuous lack of mockery. It is in the ever present utter lack of obvious concern and clear absence of their lack of concern that their strongest attacks are made. Only they can belittle by simple proximity. Their presence lessens this place. (The observer less experienced in this dialectic will undoubtedly refer to this as their ‘very ‘ presence—unwittingly bolstering their giggles by assigning them an undeserved ‘sense.’) Their presence lessens everything here, including the importance of nearby conversations, my work, my partner’s cardigan (double stitched).

The chairs upon which they sit, unapologetic, are experiencing a progressive loss of chairness and sittivity. Their hearts would break if chairs possessed such organs. The sofas which armor their particular nook suffer in the honorable silence characteristic of the plush, although we sense their resolve is waning. None would be surprised by a sofatic outburst of even the most violent and uncomfortable sort.

It has been suggested that all fixtures within the café, inanimate and otherwise, might eventually be harmed by the the passive-destructive power of their irreverent sitting. This is what we fear the most, when we consider the totengiest of our situation. We behave, therefore, as we must in times of distress.

We consider and frown We ponder and stroke our chins With unmistakable purpose We sip, thoughtfully, our assorted beverages Constructed with specific attention to epistemological detail We voice our disapproval with a sideways glance And diagonal snorts And offer our angst, Collectively.