For those readers curious how the Contessa answered the question proposed in last week’s column (Will you marry me?), please know that she mercifully replied: “Yes.” Admittedly, it wasn’t overtly emphatic like Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses (“I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”). In fact, the Contessa never said “yes” as such, but rather “Of course.” Sigh. I must say that I admire her choice of words. I found it somehow more assuring, as if the “yes” were implicit, a notion that had been ripening on the vine for some time. Not that winning the Contessa’s hand is like picking low-hanging fruit, mind you. Quite the contrary – it’s like picking lots and lots of low-hanging fruit, crushing it, fermenting it, barreling and blending it, bottling it, uncorking it, pouring and tasting it, then having her say “Hmm, a bit too tannic, don’t you think?” and ordering a No. 209 gin and tonic instead.
Frankly, I’m just relieved I have good news to report here, otherwise this week’s column might have been an extended personal ad: “Rakish writer with stunning bedroom technique seeks woman of means who won’t humiliate him in the press…”
Likewise, for those readers who flattered me by offering their hands in lieu of the Contessa’s in the event of her declining my offer of never-ending marital bliss, I am grateful, but booked. I should also remind firstname.lastname@example.org, who offered to have my babies (or as was more floridly written “be the vessel with whom you sire an army of tousled-headed Daedali”), that this is technically impossible – I know you’re a dude.
In the meantime, the wedding planning begins. I nominated getting hitched in Sonoma sooner than later, in case my charm begins to wane. Harvest seems like the time, but we have learned that the world’s other betrothed couples feel the same way. Nearly every hotel in town is already booked – so, come September, should you see a tent city in the Plaza, it is not some order of humanitarian disaster relief, but merely the Howell Wedding Party. Fortunately, the Contessa is able to overlook my poor timing.
“People who are having a love-sex relationship are continuously lying to each other because the very nature of the relationship demands that they do, because you have to make a love object of this person, which means that you editorialize about them,” said In Cold Blood author Truman Capote in an interview. “You cut out what you don’t want to see, you add this if it isn’t there. And so therefore you’re building a lie.”
Capote, it should be noted, died alone, but part of his insight resonates with me as a writer. Though I wouldn’t characterize the dance that couples do as an act of “continuously lying” as Capote did, I do think that writers are necessarily prone to editorializing. To wit, the Contessa (since some have asked) is so named in this column in deference to her privacy and because her Italian-American good looks suggest to me an aristocratic bearing. The fact is she is not an aristocrat means I must let go of my ambition to “Go Noble,” as that bumper sticker I once spied on La Côte d’Azur recommended, and marry a mere civilian. “So be it,” I might say if I were going to continue my patrician affectations. But then all men in love are kings, aren’t we gents?
Originally published in the Sonoma Valley Sun.