A LOAF OF BREAD, A GLASS OF WINE AND … OOPS!

ZOOMER Magazine - - A TRIBUTE -

IT WAS A TINY, PER­FECT MO­MENT in time and place. Late spring twi­light, a shady bistro in a back street of Mont­par­nasse. He was young, ro­bust and hand­some; she was shy and gor­geous, with eyes you could bel­lyflop in and the awk­ward grace of a gam­bolling filly. The Beau­jo­lais was em­bold­en­ing, the gypsy vi­o­lin­ist was a healthy three tables away. The waiter was wise enough to leave the cou­ple in peace. The young man touched the back of her hand and mur­mured, “You are beau­ti­ful. Like a May fly.”

Well, sure – he was Ernest Hem­ing­way. He could carry off a line like that. If I ever tried it, I’d be met with a gasp and a hiss: “Look like an in­sect, do I? You creep!” I’d be wear­ing the Beau­jo­lais bot­tle. I’ve never had much luck in the honey-tongued mur­mu­ra­tion-of­sweet-noth­ings depart­ment. Love – or the in­ti­ma­tion of it – ties my tongue in a clove hitch and turns my brain to gumbo. I still re­mem­ber the first time a girl looked in my eyes and whis­pered, “I love you.” “Oh. Thanks,” I said. It got worse. When I fi­nally met the Love of My Life, I was smit­ten by – well, all of her, ac­tu­ally – her wit, her grace. I fell for the way she walked across a room and the way she ex­am­ined a head of let­tuce so in­tently. I loved her smile, her laugh; I loved the way she tucked in her chin when she did the Hully Gully.

But mostly I loved her nose. I am a Nose Man, and I like them strong and forth­right. Not for me the perky turned-up pugs so beloved of Hol­ly­wood nymphettes and rhino­plas­tic sur­geons. Hers was mag­nif­i­cent – fear­less and prow-like. It be­spoke a flour­ish of trum­pets and the pres­ence of a fierce Ro­man god­dess.

It was twi­light in another restau­rant in another place – Thun­der Bay, Ont. There were no gypsy vi­o­lins, but the wine – a Ni­a­gara Caber­net – was em­bold­en­ing enough. I took her hands in mine across the ta­ble. “Your nose is beau­ti­ful,” I mur­mured. “Like a tomahawk.”

“Hey!” I yelled at her re­ced­ing back, “I love tom­a­hawks!”

Ah, well. Simone de Beau­voir, a very wise lady – with, come to think of it, a fairly im­pos­ing ros­trum of her own – once said: “The word ‘love’ has by no means the same sense for both sexes, and this is one of the se­ri­ous mis­un­der­stand­ings that divide them.”

True. But some­how we work it out. Just as we fig­ure out what to do with our noses when we kiss. Inuit, the stereo­type goes, rub noses. The rest of us, when go­ing full frontal, veer to port or star­board by some un­spo­ken mu­tual con­sent. We man­age some­how. Even with Ro­man noses. In life and in love, com­pro­mise is ev­ery­thing.

As a cer­tain Mr. Young­man once said: “The se­cret of our suc­cess­ful marriage is that we take time to go out to a restau­rant two times a week. A lit­tle can­dle­light, wine, mu­sic, danc­ing …

“She goes Tues­days, I go Fri­days.” Hmm. Won­der if I can sweet-talk Old Hatch­et­beak into go­ing out for a bite to eat – a lit­tle can­dle­light, wine …

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