April, the Côte d’Azur. A large blue pool, empty. Men and women sunning themselves on lounge chairs and blue and white striped towels.
She was in a gray Chanel pencil skirt with a wide black belt. She was poolside, looking out over the Mediterranean. I bumped into her and apologized.
She cringed at being touched. Smoke curled up out of her cigarette and mouth, and drifted into her nose. I wasn’t worth a look.
Madame, I am sorry. I had no wish to bother your reverie.
I was in a severe black sweater, the Piaget on the dresser. Nothing to betray my nationality.
I must admit to being taken aback.
I am Canadian, from Toronto.
She held her stare sunward.
You? You’re American. From your Midwest somewhere. Chicago…
TschEE-kah-go. She waved her cigarette.
…or, what is it, Nebraska. The big farms. If you were Canadian, you’d be too polite to address an unaccompanied woman.
She deigned to look at me then, the large bug-eyed sunglasses and the full red lips wishing me merely to leave.
Beneath those sunglasses, she glanced at the book under my arm. Jacques Derrida, Grammatology,. She pointed a thin finger at the book –– she didn’t wish to sully herself by actually touching it – and with undisguised haughtiness asked if it was a translation, and was I really reading the book.
Il n'y a pas de hors-texte.
I looked at her. Absolutely no effect. I shrugged and continued,
Meaning not produced by language – it is language, that fascinated me, but his close coupling of language and the hierarchical flow of power in cultural organization was a bit too much. We shall see. I haven’t finished it yet. Perhaps madame could enlighten me over dinner.
There was a long pause.
Être adulte, c’est être seul,
she muttered under her breath.
At least she wasn’t walking away. The pause continued. She stared at the sea and the white yachts on the horizon.
I despise your George W. Bush. He is a stupid man. Pause.
Would that he had one one-hundredth the intellect of a Lacan or a Foucault. Pause.
She did not appreciate the fact that I wasn’t walking away.
She dropped her cigarette, ground it out under her expensive shoes, twist, twist, twist, and exhaled her smoke in a thin fast line. Perfect ankles.
Meet me at the La Toche Blanche, 9 pm sharp. DON’T be late.
She shook her head, not at all sure she wanted to do this. She turned on her heels and walked back to her room like a model on a runway. The bronzed men made a point of not watching her. Not a head moved.
The yachts slipped out, and new ones pulled in. The waters lapped the shoreline.
We had mussels in red sauce and argued for hours about deconstructionism, structuralism, existentialism, post-modern thinking. She skewered the gaps in my knowledge, which were considerable. When she held up a cigarette, a waiter lit it. I stared at her red fingernails and guessed her stockings were ten denier. A thin woman should not be able to eat that much.
When we were the last, the waiters became agitated. They wanted us to leave. She didn't move. Time was her time. She would leave when she was ready.
She hated me. She hated the fact that I was reading her favorite authors.
We made angry love all weekend long.