Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman Read Online (FREE)
When he walked by me, I couldn’t help but extend my hand and shake his and tell him how much I had enjoyed reading his poems. How could I have read his poems, if the book wasn’t even out yet? Someone else overheard his question—were they going to throw me out of the store like an impostor?
“I purchased it in the bookstore in B. a few weeks ago, and you were kind enough to sign it for me.”
He remembered the evening, so he said. “Un vero fan, a real fan, then,” he added loudly, so that the others within hearing distance might hear. In fact, they all turned around. “Maybe not a fan—at his age they’re more likely to be called groupies,” added an elderly woman with a goiter and loud colors that made her look like a toucan.
“Which poem did you like best?”
“Alfredo, you’re behaving like a teacher at an oral exam,” jibed a thirty-something woman.
“I just wanted to know which poem he liked best. There’s no harm in asking, is there?” he whined with quivering mock exasperation in his voice.
For a moment I believed that the woman who had stood up for me had gotten me off the hook. I was mistaken.
“So tell me,” he resumed, “which one.”
“The one comparing life to San Clemente.”
“The one comparing love to San Clemente,” he corrected, as though meditating the profundity of both our statements. “‘The San Clemente Syndrome.’” The poet stared at me. “And why?”
“My God, just leave the poor boy alone, will you? Here,” interrupted another woman who had overheard my other advocate. She grabbed hold of my hand. “I’ll lead you to the food so that you can get away from this monster with an ego the size of his feet—have you seen how big his shoes are? Alfredo, you should really do something about your shoes,” she said from across the crowded bookstore.
“My shoes? What’s wrong with my shoes?” asked the poet.
“They. Are. Too. Big. Don’t they look huge?” she was asking me. “Poets can’t have such big feet.”
“Leave my feet alone.”
Someone else took pity on the poet. “Don’t mock his feet, Lucia. There’s nothing wrong with his feet.”
“A pauper’s feet. Walked barefoot all his life, and still buys shoes a size bigger, in case he grows before next Christmas when the family stocks up for the holidays!” Playing the embittered or forsaken shrew.
But I did not let go of her hand. Nor she of mine. City camaraderie. How nice to hold a woman’s hand, especially when you don’t know a thing about her. Se l’amore, I thought. And all these tanned arms and elbows that belonged to all these women looking down from the gallery. Se l’amore.
The bookstore owner interrupted what could just as easily have been a staged tiff between husband and wife. “Se l’amore,” he shouted. Everyone laughed. It was not clear whether laughter was a sign of relief in having the marital spat broken up or because the use of the words Se l’amore implied, If this is love, then…