As a teenager, like so many others of our narrow minded, obsessed gender, I imagined myself a great lothario, girls on the edge of womanhood lining up for my attention.
The absurdity of that dream was lost on me and my peers, testosterone drowning it in a sea of hormones, and we were oblivious to the real obstacle always right in front of us, that we imagined love and sex in the first person only.
Now that youth and even middle age are behind me I still try to recall when I realized that love requires the second person singular, and my pleasure is complete only when my partner’s is as well.
If I were a character in a novel, say by Kawabata, that evening we met twenty years ago, I would have placed my hand lightly on your shoulder, and I would have felt a heat, embers of a passion that would, in hours, leave me consumed by it.
I was a middle-aged, soon to be divorced man on his first date in thirty years, imagine a teenager knowing what not to do, but with no idea of what to do save chatter and periodically gaze at his shoes.
I was, as the evening progressed, bold enough to take your hand, and hoped that my fear and anxiety might be mistaken as romantic, or bold and daring, anything but the reality that was consuming me.
We’ve been together twenty years, and as I read Kawabata again, I recall those first moments, but in this revised edition it was your passion I felt in that first touch, a flame that consumes me to this day.