Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pouting Over Coffee

I don’t know why but his pout always made me laugh. Not in his face, but away from his gaze I crack up just thinking of his protruding bottom lip and bowed head. Like no other he played the impatient child, bouncing from one emotion to the next and I sat still.

“I’m mad because you didn’t call me once, not one time all day. You never think of me. And I think of you every minute.”

I said nothing and reached for the coffee mugs that we bought in London last fall. I never put anything on the top shelf. I stood on my toes trying to touch the handle of the blue one. Failing, I exhaled, exasperated.

“What kept you so wrapped up that you couldn’t call me once?” He stood behind me and grabbed the mugs. Smiling and feeling vindicated because I needed him for something after all, he placed them on the table, the blue one for me, the red one for himself.

“I don’t know why you take it personally. I talk to you every morning and every night.”

“So, I guess that’s enough for you.”

For me, it was more than enough. His love was at once every color of a million rainbows and every shade the mind could conjure. I always assumed he’d burn himself out with such intensity. I expected him to lose interest, like a child might lose interest in a his new train set with the arrival of a new action figure, which doesn’t seem like much fun when the new video game comes, which is great until he remembers that he hasn’t played with his train in a long while. When he didn’t lose interest, I feared I might lose myself in such ever-present and consuming passion. It felt unnatural and dangerous, like base jumping or playing in traffic. Now I know that it is just his way.

“I know what it is,” he said. “You just don’t love me the way I love you.”

I ignored the statement. It was his favorite, engineered to make himself the martyr in our love affair that in his mind was just about to end. So I said, “The coffee’s ready,” and he got the milk. I poured coffee in his cup and then my own. He poured milk in my cup and then his own. I sat down and pushed the sugar toward him and he pushed the cinnamon toward me. We performed this coffee ritual, sacred, intimate and in perfect rhythm, every evening after dinner.

“You’re right, my love.”

“About what?”

“I don’t love you the way you love me.” And there it was his sweet and disarming pout. I smiled. He looked as if I kicked him in the gut and laughed about it. Laughed as he sunk breathless to his knees.

“You love me desperately,” I said. “And I love you certainly.”

We drank our coffee and we were silent for a long time.

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