Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
There was nothing to tell. I repeated what I’d told my mother: the hotel, the Capitol, Villa Borghese, San Clemente, restaurants.
“Eat well too?”
“And drank well too?”
“Done things your grandfather would have approved of?” I laughed. No, not this time. I told him about the incident near the Pasquino. “What an idea, to vomit in front of the talking statue!
It began to creep over me that he might be leading somewhere, perhaps without quite knowing it himself. I became aware of this because, as he kept asking questions remotely approaching the subject, I began to sense that I was already applying evasive maneuvers well before what was awaiting us around the corner was even visible. I spoke about the perennially dirty, run-down conditions of Rome’s piazzas. The heat, the weather, traffic, too many nuns. Such-and-such a church closed down. Debris everywhere. Seedy renovations. And I complained about the people, and the tourists, and about the minibuses loading and unloading numberless hordes bearing cameras and baseball hats.
“Seen any of the inner, private courtyards I told you about?”
I guess we had failed to visit the inner, private courtyards he had told us about.
“Paid my respects to Giordano Bruno’s statue?” he asked.
We certainly did. Almost vomited there too that night.
Tiny pause. Another drag from his cigarette.
“You two had a nice friendship.”
This was far bolder than anything I anticipated.
“Yes,” I replied, trying to leave my “yes” hanging in midair as though buoyed by the rise of a negative qualifier that was ultimately suppressed. I just hoped he hadn’t caught the mildly hostile, evasive, seemingly fatigued Yes, and so? in my voice.
I also hoped, though, that he’d seize the opportunity of the unstated Yes, and so? in my answer to chide me, as he so often did, for being harsh or indifferent or way too critical of people who had every reason to consider themselves my friends. He might then add his usual bromide about how rare good friendships were and that, even if people proved difficult to be with after a while, still, most meant well and each had something good to impart. No man is an island, can’t shut yourself away from others, people need people, blah, blah.
But I had guessed wrong.
“You’re too smart not to know how rare, how special, what you two had was.”
“Oliver was Oliver,” I said, as if that summed things up.
“Parce que c’était lui, parce que c’était moi,” my father added, quoting Montaigne’s all-encompassing explanation for his friendship with Etienne de la Boétie.
I was thinking, instead, of Emily Brontë’s words: because “he’s more myself than I am.”
“Oliver may be very intelligent—,” I began. Once again, the disingenuous rise in intonation announced a damning but hanging invisibly between us. Anything not to let my father lead me any further down this road.
“Intelligent? He was more than intelligent. What you two had had everything and nothing to do with intelligence. He was good, and you were both lucky to have found each other, because you too are good.”