Buying Gloves in Gibraltar

One sunny day in August, my cricket team conscripted me into a stroll through downtown Gibraltar. I entered one store in response to something that attracted my attention.

A lovely store clerk offered me a pair of blue silky gloves. I did not want blue, but she said they would look very pretty on a hand like mine. The remark touched me deeply.

I glanced at my hand, and somehow it did seem rather well formed. I tried a glove on my left, and blushed a little. Clearly it was too small for me.

I felt gratified when she said, "Oh, it is just right!"

But I knew it was no such thing. I tugged at it diligently, but it was discouraging work.

She said, "Ah! I see you are accustomed to wearing elegant gloves. Some gentlemen are so awkward. Putting them on, I mean." Her sweet smile was intoxicating.

Her compliment, however, was unexpected. I only have familiarity with falling into capacious buckskin versions.

I made another effort, and tore the glove from the base of the thumb into the palm, and tried to hide the tear. She kept up her compliments, and I kept up my determination to deserve them or die.

"Ah, you have had experience!" (a rip down the back of the hand)

"They are just right for your small hands." (a rent across the middle)

"I can always tell when a gentleman understands putting on such gloves. There is a grace about it that only comes with long patience."

Then the fabric parted across the knuckles, and nothing was left but a melancholy ruin.

I was too flattered by her attentions to drop the merchandise into the angel's hands. I was hot and vexed, yet still happy. And I hated my fellow cricketers for taking such an absorbing interest in the proceedings.

I felt exquisitely mean when I said with assumed cheer, "This one fits perfectly. I like a glove that fits. I'll put the other one on outside."

I paid the bill, and, as I made my exit, I thought I detected a twinkle in the woman's eye. When I looked back from the street, she was laughing to herself about something.

I muttered, "You know how to put on fine gloves, do you? Fool!"

I ignored the snickers. And I tried to remember why I had entered the store in the first place.


Mark Twain