I know all about dressing down, and Quin was surely never one to go subfuscous - those lime trousers with the orange shirt, not to be forgotten - but there are limits. He knew that, by instinct I think; I did think that he'd taught us. So did he think it. He used to line us up and boast about it, I dress them all, you know. They think they dress themselves, but I'm always there, like a cat on the shoulder, to whisper yes or no, this or that but not the two together, not tonight...
If he's still there, you wouldn't know it. Not tonight. Gerard is as Gerard was, as he was when we found him, six months after Quin did; T-shirt and jeans to the core, but always colour somewhere. Maroon pockets in the jeans or paisley turn-ups, the T-shirt never white. And this is his house, and he's been cooking, and I suppose I do want to find excuses for him; but this is Quin's night, and any minute now Gerard's going to propose his toast, and if he still listened to any whisper of Quin he would at least go through and change into something clean.
Unless he's more sensitive than I think, and he just doesn't want to show up Stephen. This is a memorial, for God's sake, it doesn't have to be solemn but it ought to be formal, a little dignity wouldn't hurt. Stephen's shirt has a torn sleeve and missing buttons, his 501s are rotting at the hems, he's wearing sandals. With socks. Quin would have died, rather.
Quin did die, but that's not the point. Or else it is, absolutely it's the point. I don't know. Either way, he shouldn't have come here looking like that.
Maybe it's my fault. I heard Bill Gates once, trying to justify his own appalling clothes: How can I wear good suits? Steve Jobs wears great suits, as though it was a zero-sum game and he'd lost it already. Maybe that's it, maybe we're still stupid-competitive and Stephen knows it and I don't. Maybe that's why I wear Nicole Farhi.
Toast-time, the old ritual: the shot of Moscovskaya and trying to talk through the ice bite of it, trying to say Absent friends, trying to think of Quin even before the chaser.
Except that Stephen's looking at the place we've set for Micky, and that's where his thoughts lie; and I glance at Gerard and there's something wrong there too, some falter in the eye and no, I never did think this would be an easy dinner...
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