we lay breathless, our bodies contorted, like fallen sculpture, into comically, almost campily inelegant configurations. spent lovers, i mused, have an effortless way of assuming conformations that would tax the most limber of contortionists.
the hi-fi exulted in having outlasted us, just this once; the digitally remastered orchestra taunted us with a frenetic cadenza, each of the violinist’s feverish strokes a triumphant gibe at the enervated figures concealing our reinvigorated hearts, but then fell silent as the disc whirred slowly to a halt.
the deafening silence was broken only by the gradual diminuendo of our breath and heartbeat as they reluctantly reassumed their separate rhythms, accompanied by the muted susurrus of sweat-drenched, crumpled sheets.
and then it came.
it came in fine print, sotto voce, unobtrusively, drifting like cigarette smoke through the sultry, tropical air of the cramped room.
it came in long, languid, stylized cursive strokes.
a three-word surrender, without which victory is impossible.
i love you.
i lay motionless, facing away, my gaze fixed on the rivulets of condensation dripping down the passion-fogged window. smirking, i noted an analogy to many of my ill-fated, ill-advised previous relationships: alone, the drops could nearly hold their weight, but, once they crossed paths and the inevitable reaction occurred, they instantly succumbed to mutual gravity, plummeting to the sill in an increasingly grimy streak.
and, of course, others followed close behind, more often than not along the same well-greased downward path.
ah, love, i thought, watching the drops commiserate in a tawny slough at the bottom of the window frame.
what’s that you say, kid?
sure, it steams the windows of our rooms, and of our judgment, often to total opacity.
yeah, it makes us forget that our windows need to be cleaned; our bills paid; our arraignments attended.
mm-hmm, it shows us that, in order to power up the former of “you live, you learn” to the fullest, you’ve sometimes gotta power down the latter.
what is it?
for one so often accused of having the soul of a woman, i felt a strange relief at searching for an objective definition.
so autistic, so robotic, yet so uniquely male of me to paw around for precise boundaries.
and such an extra burden, too; i felt a pang of empathy for those men who define their world mostly or entirely through definitions. for women — and, indeed, for me — to feel something is definition enough.
satchmo had the soul of a woman, too. man, if you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.
although maybe he had it backward.
if you know what love is, you’ll never have to ask.
what is it?
i recalled the ruminations of more illustrious thinkers (feelers?), to which i added my own frenetic cadenza.
eternal benefit of the doubt.
unilateral emotional disarmament.
appraisal of value.
bestowal of value.
incompleteness without the other.
in the minds of some, perhaps most, men, these reservoirs are separable, practically independent, with separate inlets and outlets, and can be filled to wildly different levels.
in the soul of a woman, they are underlaid with an aquifer of slowly moving emotional groundwater, through which all of their levels gradually equalize. the levels will rise fastest if her lover’s tempest deluges all of them at once, but, even if the storm inundates nothing but the reservoir of ohmygodican’ttakeitanymoreiwannafuckyourmindbodyandsoulsothoroughly…, she will eventually find all of them full — to her surprise as much as to her reprobate lover’s possible chagrin.
and, once they have overflowed, woe betide the lover who lets them evaporate, even back to equilibrium levels.
hell hath no fury … like a woman dehydrated.