I approached her like a cat, thinking only of sexual intercourse.
Straw hair: It would do in the dark, as would her toes. I held my la Madeleine cup of coffee with cream, a symbol of my precious bodily fluids, wondering if I had the courage.
Perhaps I was broken. I had been rejected by a girl two days earlier. She, Mishy, was wild, unstable, aloof, suicidal, and I adored her. I cherished every moment with her. It was like being a load of wet clothes in a washing machine, and when I once tried to kiss her, it was like being in a hot clothes dryer. She turned her face away as we sat in her land rover in front of my house, which I rent—I, being not blind, but an impoverished artist, as God would have it. I turned away, beaten, opened the car door and got out. My mind withered; my veins were sapped by this difficult, unreachable woman.
She ditched me for good in a phone call the next day at 6:02 a.m. I was working on two hours of sleep since 3 on my novel about Amedeo Modigliani, concentrating on the period when this tubercular, drug-infested painter lived in a Paris apartment which housed 27 artists, and one toilet.
She was distressed, as she always was.
“I just wanted to be friends. I told you. Now you’ve tried to kiss me. I don’t want that. I don’t want any of that. I don’t want to hurt your feelings,” she said. I felt black adrenalin pumping through my diffident veins on the insides of my arms. “I want only to be with women. I want only to be with women,” she said. How odd I thought. “No more coffee and milkshakes and hamburgers and French fries and slices of chocolate cake soaked in rum. No more movies at the National Gallery of Art. You have helped me, though.”
I had helped her, indeed.
On our second date, she said: “Yesterday, all I wanted to do was swallow a bottle of pills and die.” Two weeks later, after 14 dates including a movie starring lovers Douglass Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, she vowed that suicide was not an option. She would not jump, as she had repeatedly said, from her bedroom window on the 26th floor of her penthouse apartment.
I rose from my chair, thinking of the sex connotation of “rise.” I passed a man in a herring bone suit who stuffed scrambled eggs into his mouth which, too, longed for sex.
She wore black shoes which exposed the virgin white of the tops of her feet. A black strap, patent shiny leather, strapped across the tops of her feet. I approached. Her hair hung across the side of her face. I could see only her nose, which I imagined as we lay writhing in a king-sized bed. This was no time to play the neurotic begging for sympathy. “What would George Clooney say?” I wondered.
I stopped 4 feet from her, waiting for her to turn her face from the computer and its clicking keyboard. I needed to see her face; a man makes love to the woman’s face, after all; but she did not turn; and I had no courage.
I curved to the left and circled the restaurant like a depressed vulture, thinking that I lived like a Jesuit priest, considering God in the mornings, praying to clouds in the afternoons, getting drunk at night.
“I am hapless and ill-fated,” I thought as I returned to my PC and my novel. “I am doomed to confessions in cement churches on Friday afternoons, doomed to tell a drunken sot pervert priest that I am a would-be adulterer. I am doomed to lament once a week that I am obsessed with the sex organs of women, women whom I will never have.”