- Andrew Sean Greer
- My last highlight
- Number of highlights
It is a bad musical, but, like a bad lay, a bad musical can still do its job perfectly well. By the end, Arthur Less is in tears, sobbing in his seat, and he thinks he has been sobbing quietly until the lights come up and the woman seated beside him turns and says, “Honey, I don’t know what happened in your life, but I am so so sorry,” and gives him a lilac-scented embrace. Nothing happened to me, he wants to say to her. Nothing happened to me. I’m just a homosexual at a Broadway show.
“I am Arturo,” says Arturo, holding out a hairy hand.
Less awakens to a plane of sleeping citizens under blue prison blankets.
As a final challenge, the last restaurant of the trip sits on a mountainside outside Kyoto, requiring Less to rent a car. This goes more smoothly than Less imagined; his international driving permit, which looks to him like a flimsy phony, is taken very seriously and photocopied numerous times, as if to be handed out as keepsakes.
Then I heard his voice, my new husband, Tom, who loved me, and therefore saw everything:
Like a curious child, he tries the pool, then the sauna, the cold plunge, the steam room, the cold plunge again, until he is as scarlet as a fever victim.
At a patisserie, even Less’s incomprehensible French cannot prevent success: an almond croissant is soon in his hands, covering him in buttered confetti.
It is a traveler’s fallacy that one should shop for clothing while abroad. Those white linen tunics, so elegant in Greece, emerge from the suitcase as mere hippie rags; the beautiful striped shirts of Rome are confined to the closet; and the delicate hand batiks of Bali are first cruise wear, then curtains, then signs of impending madness. And then there is Paris.
“Strange to be almost fifty, no? I feel like I just understood how to be young.”
Now Javier turns to look at Less; he is probably the type to turn and look at you while he is driving.
“We’re too old to think we’ll meet again,” Less says.
“She told me she met the love of her life,” Zohra says at last, still staring out the window. “You read poems about it, you hear stories about it, you hear Sicilians talk about being struck by lightning. We know there’s no love of your life. Love isn’t terrifying like that. It’s walking the fucking dog so the other one can sleep in, it’s doing taxes, it’s cleaning the bathroom without hard feelings. It’s having an ally in life. It’s not fire, it’s not lightning. It’s what she always had with me. Isn’t it? But what if she’s right, Arthur? What if the Sicilians are right? That it’s this earth-shattering thing she felt? Something I’ve never felt. Have you?”
wilted linen shirt and pants,
Nowhere on earth could he be mistaken for anything but an American.