I MISS BEING SEDUCED. I miss being taken back to a room at 2 AM, the stereo set to play mood music, the understanding that the game is up, and there is no way back, only straight into the darkness. I’m tired of games of cat and mouse, tired of push and pull. I am tired of Messenger. I am tired of tradeoffs, if you give me this, then I will give you that, and if you give me a little more, then I want it all. The final trade off is your soul, of course, because that is the big love money, the big currency. Give me your soul, honey, and I’ll show you the way around the world.

But for the right price, anything and everything is for sale. This is how I find myself in a Nepalese restaurant on a hot summer evening, the tiny fan barely penetrating the swelter, the sticky heat, some uninteresting people milling about outside, doing uninteresting things, the little Nepali flags flapping in the displaced air of the fan, and some singer crying on the radio. Desperate and hot, waiting for her to arrive. For a bit of her peace, I will hand it over and more.

The drink arrives, I sip it, and make various deals with gods and devils. Any way to find my way out of this morass. I had tried so hard to remain unfettered, bold, brash, independent, all action, to know no love, to know no port, to be a brigand, a pirate, but I know there is only one way out. No one ever really talks about the hunger that men feel for their women, plus the cosmic black hole you pass through when you experience intimacy, the fluorescent traces of sensations, smells, and vibrations. Only few dare to write about it, but this is as close to god as it gets. Fewer have dared to get into the anatomy of the release, which brings you to the other side. It’s just here, perched at the door to bliss that the truth reveals itself. 

You reach out in the darkness, you reach out for her soft hand. You are looking for something to hold onto. And here she comes with everything you need. The only price is your soul. This is how men commit themselves to their women. Love is a kind of indentured servitude. If you relieve my desperation, I’ll give you everything and more. I will be there at a moment’s notice to carry the weight. I will be there to comfort you when your nerves give out. I’ll be waiting at the end of the universe with some flowers and a pocket full of change for a taxi ride home. I’ll be there.

The women around you say they want no such thing, but they do. They are constantly searching for it. Too often they are searching for this treasure in all the wrong places.

This is how I wind up surrendering myself to Dulcinea in a Nepalese restaurant, a woman who is far too young for me, and has made this clear. The yellow-haired poetess Dulcinea in all her resplendence and indifferent beauty. She sits across from me and looks away. She hopes someone she knows will pass her by and save her from my overtures. Dulcinea is what a friend calls her, for the heroine in Cervantes’ Don Quixote. The perfect woman, a princess, a queen, with hair of gold, eyes of suns, a complexion fair as white snow, yet somehow unbelievable in her perfection. She’s just a youth after all. A kind of stand-in for the Virgin Mary, with the catch that there is nothing immaculate about her. Dulcinea is not interested, or so she says. She is not interested and yet I hand myself over like a couple of kopeks. Small currency. Just for a look from those eyes. Don’t even ask me why.

Oh, you can try to forget it all, move on as they say. You can drown yourself in other women, other experiences, other drinks, drink from other wells, hope that the marvelous Dulcinea will get lost in the fleeting memories of pleasure and flesh. Swim in the swamps and make love under mossy trees, or slink away for a midday rendezvous with a stranger. Maybe if you bury her beneath enough dirt, nonsense, and drama, both she and you will be liberated from the unbearable truth. Until you are brought to climax and her essence flashes through your psyche like lightning. Then be careful you don’t call her name when you are in the embrace of another. Funny isn’t it, these things? I’m only learning. Just learning. I do love my Dulcinea and admire her. She knows this, I think, and that is all that really matters.

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