Thursday, 26 May 2011
I arrived at his place 15 minutes earlier than agreed. The table was neatly set but he was still busy in the kitchen. Jokingly he reproached me for being early (“I didn’t expect that from a Latina") and politely offered me a glass of wine.
There is nothing I like more in a man than a strong sense of simple perfection and the natural ability to please with the most surprising little details. I carefully observed his confidence in cooking, his fine taste in arranging the table and the cozy and balanced display of candles. I felt his solid, yet smooth presence in every movement, in every word spoken, in every brief look exchanged. And yes, he was strong, simple, a charmer, a pleaser, and a gentleman; and even though he claimed that his cooking skills were average, I could not see a single flake of flaw in him. I felt fragile, pampered, desired, special and safe. In those fifteen minutes in the kitchen, the irrevocable epiphany of love madly possessed me. I had indeed, without a single doubt, fallen for him. I was in heaven.
At seven fifteen we sat at the dining table. As the charming host he was, he agreeably explored every topic that seemed to be mutually fascinating. With Piazzolla as backdrop music, we ate slowly while he talked about his latest diving assignment and asked about my recent trip to Argentina. He was careful with his choice of words, and elaborated every sentence as if he was preparing himself to say something important. The easiness he had shown in preparing the last details of the food we were about to finish gradually disappeared.
He felt his voice break as he struggled with trying to disguise that in spite of the intimacy he had staged, he was about to announce he needed distance. He felt a lump in his throat and took another sip but the wine felt too bland. Nervously, he poured another glass and drank it in another long, single sip. “I love you” he thought he heard himself say. That voice that seemed to be his had spoken and damn! he couldn’t prevent it. The three fugitive words had escaped before he could handcuff them like he had done in the past three months he had been dating her. “Yes, I love you, and every day I love you more and more and more”. The words kept pouring as he hastily emptied the last bottle. He felt ashamed at his loss of control and tried to correct it by firmly holding his glass and steadily gazing at her. “But I think I'd better find a woman from here, a Dutch woman”. Still staring at her, he lifted his glass and took another long gulp. As if wanting to hide the imminent liquidity of his sad and embarrassed blue eyes, and avoid her puzzled, piercing expression, he lowered his gaze and fell silent as he drew circles around the rim of his empty drink.