Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
A second round of grappa and sambuca.
“I wanted to sleep with all of Thailand. And all of Thailand, it turns out, was flirting with me. You couldn’t take a step without almost lurching into someone.”
“Here, take a sip of this grappa and tell me it’s not the work of a witch,” interrupted the bookstore owner. The poet allowed the waiter to pour another glass. This time he sipped it slowly. Falstaff downed it in one gulp. Straordinario-fantastico growled it down her gullet. Oliver smacked his lips. The poet said it made you young again. “I like grappa at night, it reinvigorates me. But you”—he was looking to me now—“wouldn’t understand. At your age, God knows, invigoration is the last thing you need.”
He watched me down part of the glass. “Do you feel it?”
“Feel what?” I asked.
I swilled the drink again. “Not really.”
“Not really,” he repeated with a puzzled, disappointed look.
“That’s because, at his age, it’s already there, the invigoration,” added Lucia.
“True,” said someone, “your ‘invigoration’ works only on those who no longer have it.”
The poet: “Invigoration is not hard to come by in Bangkok. One warm night in my hotel room I thought I would go out of my mind. It was either loneliness, or the sounds of people outside, or the work of the devil. But this is when I began to think of San Clemente. It came to me like an undefined, nebulous feeling, part arousal, part homesickness, part metaphor. You travel to a place because you have this picture of it and you want to couple with the whole country. Then you find that you and its natives haven’t a thing in common. You don’t understand the basic signals which you’d always assumed all humanity shared. You decide it was all a mistake, that it was all in your head. Then you dig a bit deeper and you find that, despite your reasonable suspicions, you still desire them all, but you don’t know what it is exactly you want from them, or what they seem to want from you, because they too, it turns out, are all looking at you with what could only be one thing on their mind. But you tell yourself you’re imagining things. And you’re ready to pack up and go back to Rome because all of these touch-and-go signals are driving you mad. But then something suddenly clicks, like a secret underground passageway, and you realize that, just like you, they are desperate and aching for you as well. And the worst thing is that, with all your experience and your sense of irony and your ability to overcome shyness wherever it threatens to crop up, you feel totally stranded. I didn’t know their language, didn’t know the language of their hearts, didn’t even know my own. I saw veils everywhere: what I wanted, what I didn’t know I wanted, what I didn’t want to know I wanted, what I’d always known I wanted. This is either a miracle. Or it is hell.