by Pam Sears
Laughter is the best relationship glue
|“Stop it, James. This is a serious portrait. We’re taking this to give to our children for posterity.” Gladys reprimands her husband who had been making little faces, trying to get her to laugh.
“Posterior, Gladys? Really?” James’s lips twitch under his mustache as he sends his wife a side-long glance, purposely mis-hearing her words.
“Really, James. You have the humor of a 12 year old boy. Do behave. We only have so much time for our sitting before the next person’s appointment.” Gladys scolds. “Now, lean in and stop making faces.”
Gladys leans toward her husband of some twenty years and rests her head against his with a soft sigh. James has always managed to make her laugh but she is serious about this portrait. It is for their children to be able to remember them by when they are grown up and have left home. This was, to her mind, a very serious business.
“Do you remember little Amelia’s 4th birthday, dear?” James suddenly asks.
A little worried about why he’d bring up their youngest daughter’s birthday Gladys sits up and gives him a wary glance.
“Ye-es.” She responds.
“And do you remember when we had to go get the cake from the kitchen for her and her little friends?” James presses.
Gladys’s eyes widen slightly and a flush lights her cheeks. “James, what are you going on about?”
James gives her his best innocent look. “Why, whatever do you mean, my dear?”
Now she narrows her eyes at him. That is his about-to-be-naughty look and she knows it well. “James Atherton Winston Holmes, we are getting our portrait taken. You behave yourself. I mean it, now!”
“Gladys,” he gasps dramatically. “Are you accusing me of being anything less than of sterling character?”
Gladys hears a strange choking sound coming from under the cloth the photographer has draped over himself and the other side of the camera as she tries to back away from her husband. James’s arm appears to be draped around her in a casual manner but it is suddenly immovable.
“James, I mean it, no funny business.” She tries to remain stern but his look is pure mischief and it gets to her every time.
Eyes gleaming her husband’s mustache twitches again and his fingers, resting at her waist, suddenly crook into her ribs with wicked intent.
“James!” She squeals, trying to jerk away from the sensation.
“Yes, Gladys?” And he does it again, forcing a high-pitched, girlish giggle from her.
“James, no!” Gladys flushes, knowing that the laughter only encourages him in his naughtiness. It’s where their boys get it from, they are so like their father.
“Whatever you do mean, my dear?”
Gladys really can’t help the laughter, and it’s not solely due to his tickling her. James, in a mischievous mood, can get to her every time. Even his sons have learned that, if they can get their mother to laughing when they’re in trouble, they can usually get right back out of trouble. It’s terrible what the men in her life will do to make her laugh. She only hopes Amelia never learns the same lesson.
“Stop it. I mean it, you cad!” She gasps, giggles spilling forth as she tries to back away.
In the background she hears the “flumph!” of the camera’s flash as the minerals used cause a mild explosion to light the area and create the light that, in turn, created the photograph. There were scurrying sounds as the photographer worked quickly to change the plates and reload his flash-tray.
“James, what will people think!” Gladys manages, still giggling and laughing.
“That we know how to enjoy ourselves?” He teases. “And that you’re ticklish?”
“Oh, that does it.” She gasps and attacks James’s ribs, setting off his deep chuckles that she so loves to hear.
Soon, the two of them are gasping for air, laughter floating through the room as James holds his wife tightly, keeping her away from his sensitive ribs. Gladys struggles to reach him as well as try to dodge his wicked fingers still digging into her own ribs. And, in the background, there is another “flumph!” and flash of light.
Gladys buries her face in James’s neck, still laughing, even as the photographer joins in with his own deep chuckles. Only James could turn a serious situation into one of laughter and fun. It’s what she loves most about him, even when it embarrasses her.
Later, when the photographer shows them what he was able to capture on his camera plates, they purchase both the serious photograph and the one of them laughing. The serious one sits in the front parlor for everyone to admire.
But Gladys keeps the one of James and her laughing on the table next to her side of the bed. It is her favorite photograph by far and will always bring to mind her husband’s joy in life and in her.