In the lounge, introductions were being made. A chauffeur wearing pristine white gloves stood next to a Moustachioed Gentleman and gestured towards a gateau on the table. The Moustachioed Gent gazed at the gateau and the gateau gazed back at him. It made him feel about two inches tall, even though he was closer to seven foot. He had never seen a cake before that intimidated him the way this one did.
Its beauty was indescribable.
Feeling out of his depth, the Moustachioed Gent blushed and whispered in the chauffeur’s ear: “But that cake is far too good for me.” The chauffeur, who had recently quit driving in favour of presenting cakes had brought to his new profession all of the wisdom and grace he had learnt in the previous one. He straightened his gloves and replied: “Au contraire sir, can you not see how she is looking at you?”
The Moustachioed Gent thought for a moment and his blushing receded. That evening he had applied wax to his moustache so that it curled perfectly to his preferred mathematics and he had also applied wax to his leather shoes so that they shone like black holes on the ends of his legs. Certainly he had seen more shambolic men here with quite impressive cakes… though he had seen no cakes quite so impressive as the beauty which sat coyly on the table before him.
Finally he coughed, and then nodded to the chauffeur.
The chauffeur picked up the cake and carried it in his studied, stately manner whilst the Moustachioed Gent followed behind. Nerves began to flood his nervous nervous n-n-n-n-n- nervous system.
When they reached the room the chauffeur set the cake down gently on the table and then departed as silently as he could, like a valet driving across velvet. The Moustachioed Gent thought about taking his shoes off and then decided that would be rude, thought about switching the television on but stopped again for the same reason.
He walked slowly around the table until he had seen the cake from all sides. It was about six inches in diameter, small but perfectly formed. He had, of course, brought his own spoon and he now removed it from the left breast pocket of his suit and polished it with his sleeve. He drew the curtains, sat down at the table and switched off his narrative tracker system.
It was half an hour later when the Moustachioed Gent turned the system back on. He drew the curtains once more and then, leaving the room as he found it, left. He handed the key in at the desk and walked out into the night.
The air was cold and as he walked down the road he checked in his pocket to make sure his spoon was there. Yes, of course he had not forgotten it. He made a mental note to wash it when he got home.
It was absurd, he reflected, to feel as though he had been all alone in the room and absurd too that he felt such little guilt for what he had done. He had no worries about being found out, the service was discreet and his wife need never know. But what struck him as he walked through the cold night was how empty he felt. He began to wonder about the gorgeous cake: had it been too good for him?
And then the empty feeling became a dipping sensation and the thought crossed his mind that this was the pinnacle of his life, that nothing could ever be quite so good again.
When he got home he decided against washing the spoon. He was never going to wash that spoon again.