It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour. When Scrooge's nephew laughed in this way: holding his sides, rolling his head, and twisting his face into the most extravagant contortions: Scrooge's niece, by marriage, laughed as heartily as he. And their assembled friends being not a bit behindhand, roared out, lustily.
If you have been reading my year-long foray into A Christmas Carol regularly, you already know of my affection for Scrooge's nephew, Fred. You know that I appreciate Fred's ability to put his uncle's misanthropy into perspective. Fred is one of the few characters in the entire book who can get the better of Scrooge in speech and action. And he does it with laughter and "good-humour." Fred is just a great guy. The life of the party. He's the one person everyone looks forward to seeing, all the time.
Tonight is the monthly meeting of my book club. At 7 p.m., my friends and relatives will descend upon my abode to eat and drink and talk about this month's read. It's always a good time, and while I don't think I'm quite as genial a host as Fred, I do enjoy laughing and eating with people I love. Throw a good book on top of all that, and there's nothing better.
This month's book was a collection of poetry (in honor of National Poetry Month). We read Still Life in Milford by Thomas Lynch. I saw Mr. Lynch read at the university about twelve years ago. He was engaging and funny. He writes my kind of poetry--full of image and narrative. None of this language crap that's so much in vogue these days.
Lynch also wrote one of my favorite books of non-fiction called The Undertaking. It's a collection of essays about his life-s profession. Thomas Lynch is, by trade, an undertaker. Still is. So there are many reasons why I like the man. He doesn't live in the ivory tower of academia. He's in the middle of life's messes, comforting the bereaved, making grief natural and, at times, beautiful.
It should be a really good night. I'm feeling slightly better. The food's going to be delicious. The company's going to be lovely. And the book's going to be great to discuss.
Saint Marty may not be Scrooge's nephew, Fred, but he knows how to show people a good time.
|He looks like an undertaker, doesn't he?|