It would do at 11:22 a.m. or p.m. unmarried in a little dark wood sauna surrounded by a foot and a half of snow on a steep hill rolling toward little maroon floating fishing boats in a little harbor in a village in Sweden populated by 242 people most of them elderly spending an hour or two or three each day in one of the two white churches in the village praying that they ascend to heaven after their God-cruel deaths on the 2-by-4 slats of the wood seat of the immoral sauna or on the wood floor of the immoral sauna sweating lubricated like sumo wrestlers in Round 6 of a match televised in once-remorseful once-ruined Japan grunting governed by peristalsis moaning screaming like animals with bloody flesh wounds in Africa toward 12 fizzling comets or in the unimaginative pale-yellow bedroom on its $999-plus-tax mattress from Mattress Discounters which you now conjure in your boring minds, her straw hair.
Her toes alone would cause climax in most men and in all boys under 18, I knew, holding my la Madeleine cup of coffee with cream, symbol of my precious bodily fluids, wondering if I had the courage. Maybe I did have the courage: I approached her like a cat, thinking only of sexual intercourse.
Maybe I was broken. I had been ditched by a girl two days earlier. She, Mishy, was wild, unstable, aloof, suicidal, and I adored her. I cherished every moment with her. I felt at times with her I was a batch of wet clothes regurgitating in a washing machine of emotions, and when I once tried to kiss her, I felt as if I were in a hot spinning electric clothes dryer full of dry clothes. 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 too, after the meaningless kiss on the side of her face, a man beaten down. I opened the car door and got out, like a wobbling knight who has nearly lost his life in a joust. 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 had been working since 3 on two hours of sleep on my novel about Amedeo Modigliani, concentrating on the period when this tubercular, drug-addled painter lived in a Paris apartment which housed 27 artists, and one toilet.
She was in distress, as always.
“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 body and its confused soul.
“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 bourbon. 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 12 dates with me, 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.
I rose from my chair, thinking of the sex connotation of “rise.” I passed a man in a herring bone suit who forked scrambled eggs into his mouth which, too, longed for sex.
She wore black shoes exposing the virgin white of the tops of her feet. A black strap, patent shiny leather, crossed the tops of her feet. I stepped closer. Her hair hung down the side of her face. I could see only her nose, which I imagined as we lay naked and writhing on the floor of a den, after watching a documentary on Alfred Hitchcock. This was no time to play the neurotic begging for sympathy. “What would Fairbanks say?” I wondered.
I stopped four feet from her, waiting for her to still her thin fingers which delicately clicked the keyboard of her computer, waiting for her to turn her face toward mine. 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 swerved 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 stupid novel. “I am doomed to confessions in cement churches on Friday afternoons, doomed to tell drunken sot pervert priests 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.