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Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)

“Want me to teach you?”

And he proceeded to explain the intricacies of a straight-up dry martini. He was okay being a bartender to the bar’s help.

“Where did you learn this?” I asked.

“Mixology 101. Courtesy Harvard. Weekends, I made a living as a bartender all through college. Then I became a chef, then a caterer. But always a poker player.”

His undergraduate years, each time he spoke of them, acquired a limelit, incandescent magic, as if they belonged to another life, a life to which I had no access since it already belonged to the past. Proof of its existence trickled, as it did now, in his ability to mix drinks, or to tell arcane grappas apart, or to speak to all women, or in the mysterious square envelopes addressed to him that arrived at our house from all over the world.

I had never envied him the past, nor felt threatened by it. All these facets of his life had the mysterious character of incidents that had occurred in my father’s life long before my birth but which continued to resonate into the present. I didn’t envy life before me, nor did I ache to travel back to the time when he had been my age.

There were at least fifteen of us now, and we occupied one of the large wooden rustic tables. The waiter announced last call a second time. Within ten minutes, the other customers had left. The waiter had already started lowering the metal gate, on account of because it was the closing hour of the chiusura. The jukebox was summarily unplugged. If each of us kept talking, we might be here till daybreak.

“Did I shock you?” asked the poet.

“Me?” I asked, not certain why, of all people at the table, he should have addressed me.

Lucia stared at us. “Alfredo, I’m afraid he knows more than you know about corrupting youth. E un dissoluto assoluto,” she intoned, as always now, her hand to my cheek.

“This poem is about one thing and one thing only,” said Straordinario-fantastico.

“San Clemente is really about four—at the very least!” retorted the poet.

Third last call.

“Listen,” interrupted the owner of the bookstore to the waiter, “why don’t you let us stay? We’ll put the young lady in a cab when we’re done. And we’ll pay. Another round of martinis?”

“Do as you please,” said the waiter, removing his apron. He’d given up on us. “I’m going home.”

Oliver came up to me and asked me to play something on the piano.

“What would you like?” I asked.

“Anything.”

This would be my thanks for the most beautiful evening of my life. I took a sip from my second martini, feeling as decadent as one of those jazz piano players who smoke a lot and drink a lot and are found dead in a gutter at the end of every film.

I wanted to play Brahms. But an instinct told me to play something very quiet and contemplative. So I played one of the Goldberg Variations, which made me quiet and contemplative. There was a sigh among the fifteen or so, which pleased me, since this was my only way of repaying for this magical evening.