Our Town – June 6, 2013

The Soupster learns it's all in a name.

The Soupster learns it’s all in a name.

Aaaahh… marinated black cod sizzling — a lovely sound, the Soupster thought, looking approvingly as his friend Nicolas manned the charcoal grill set up in his backyard…

Nicolas had a cowboy twang to his English when he was happy but spoke perfect Standard American when he was being serious. That never ceased to amaze the Soupster, who knew his friend grew up in the great port city of Antwerp, Belgium. Nicolas had equal fluency in French, German and Dutch.

Nicolas flipped the black cod filets. The smell now tantalized the Soupster as much as the sizzling sound. “Just once,” Nicolas twanged. “I try to flip the fish only once.”

An enormously pregnant Alice – Nicolas’ wife – waddled carefully onto the small raised porch outside the kitchen. “The rice and salad are almost ready,” she said. Alice spoke her English with a Boston brogue and, like most born-and-bred Americans, spoke English only and that’s all she needed — thank you very much for your concern.

“Basmati brown rice and spinach and seaweed salad,” she said to the Soupster, as though he had asked. “Nick’s bread, and local beer if you want it.”

“Great,” said the Soupster.

“How much longer?” Alice asked her husband.

“Funf minuten,” he said in German, holding up five fingers.

“Perfect,” said Alice and went inside.

“Your wife is nice,” the Soupster said. “I didn’t see your kids.”

“Tanya is overnighting in a tent behind her friend’s house and Brian is hiking with the Scouts.” Nicolas said, and then added conspiratorially, “My kids are such landlubbers.”

The Soupster was scandalized. “How’d they get to be landlubbers? With the way you guys take to water, you and Alice have practically sprouted fins.”

“I know, I know,” Nicolas said sadly, no trace of a twang. “I’ve tried to get them out on the boat. No way. I bought two kayaks. No way, no way. I signed them up for diving lessons…”

“No way?”

“No way,” Nicolas confirmed twanglessly.

“But I have high hopes for the new kid,” he said, brightening, “I’ve been reading a lot of sea stories out loud to Ally and singing chanteys night and day. We eat as much fish as Doc Megan said is safe. And we have a secret weapon.”

The Soupster looked up at Alice, who had come out onto the porch to usher them inside. She’d been listening in. “The secret weapon is the baby’s name,” she said.

“Gilbert,” twanged Nicolas. “Gil. Get it? Gill!”

“Or Gilda,” said Alice.


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