Issue 86, Winter 1982
In America the host had a driver whose name was Carolyn. She was twenty-four years old, tall, had studied classic languages, disliked teaching and modeling, and was glad to drive for the host. When they went through those flat lands in the midwest or south, she dressed in a black silk stocking that came up to her neck and gloves which fit her hands perfectly. She had smallish breasts and very long legs, pronounced bones in her shoulders, a long, smooth neck. When they drove over these roads, Carolyn was allowed to enjoy the speed of the car, which was usually long, dark, vulgar, carefully maintained and modified. On flat stretches Carolyn let it out to a hundred and fifty or more miles per hour, and occasionally the host put the lip of a champagne glass so that she could sip it and she would taste the wine and feel the bubbles in her nose and push the accelerator just a touch more. They argued about translations of Ancient Greek texts, or Anglo-Saxon poems, and they never stopped at motels: Carolyn said she enjoyed the tension more the way things were, even though she was in love with the host, and had told him that she would marry him at any time.
The host was in his early forties, was over six feet-four inches tall, in good condition. He was educated, wealthy, although some of his amusements, the hunt included, were difficult to explain. He was unlike other men in number of ways, the first being that he understood the moment, the present, as though it had taken place years before and that he had had that time to think about what had taken place. He always knew when he had been insulted, and how to take a compliment. He seemed to fit, whether in Seattle, or Lisbon, the lesser known ports of call along the north coast of Africa, or the resorts and small towns in the Pyrenees. If you saw his round, large, and not too friendly face opposite yours as you sat at a bar or on a terrace with a view of the Adriatic, you would be concerned, but not frightened and perhaps relieved that there was someone, who, without saying a word, gave the impression that he understood those fears that made your hands sweat, that made you awkward, or, worst of all, in the man’s not too pleasant presence there was an acceptance or grace that covered those things you had to live with because there was nothing else to be done. The host was told many stories. He did not pry.