After two years they ran into what he termed significant relationship difficulties. They applied geographical solutions to non-geographical problems. They moved to London. They moved to Truro. They even tried Lisbon. But wherever they went they were still them. For example, he still had that ponytail. It followed him everywhere.
They told Albert their sensitive news: they’d had to take tests for Chlamydia. They were embarrassed and upset so Albert should have practiced his caring nod and offered reassurance.
Instead he said, “I’ve always thought Chlamydia would be a lovely name for a girl.”
He quickly discovered this was unhelpful.
Where do I sign? I’ll take up your offer of another year. I’d considered turning all Oirish or acquiring American savviness but I lack the something or otherness. Ah well, perhaps the friction of life passing me by will finally give an edge to my soft English blur.
We liked it when she said I resist your cakes. We loved it when she told us off for getting out of shapes. Which shapes, we wondered. Later, when she asked if we could make her a favour we said, for you, we’ll make as many favours as you like.
Let’s save ourselves a little time. Let’s cut out all that transitory physical attraction crap. Let’s avoid all those exotic photo opportunities. Instead, let’s just cut to extensive lists of each other’s faults. Because isn’t that what love is – feeling drawn to someone who eventually itemizes each and every flaw?
Are you saying art is moral? (a question asked of Bernard Malamud in Paris Review Interview 1974)
It tends toward morality. Morality begins with an awareness of the sanctity of one’s life, hence the lives of others—even Hitler’s, to begin with—the sheer privilege of being, in this miraculous cosmos, and trying to figure out why. Art, in essence, celebrates life and gives us our measure.
Albert’s five-year-old nephew, Harry, is playing with Albert in the park. Albert’s showing him what you can do with leaves: how you can press them; how you can work out which tree they’ve fallen from.
‘Uncle Albert,’ Harry asks, ‘did you used to play with leaves? When you were alive?’