Just now I’ve caught myself writing some very descriptive prose about romance which is so personal it doesn’t even interest me. Time for me to roll with it a little more; love is love and it’s fucking funny, basta. Funny. I blame the Victorians; before them we could laugh our asses off about love, I bet. I’m going to laugh at it now. But before I do, let me tell you about something nicer than the gap between morality, emotion, and my snatch; about something Lady reminded me of last night when we were explaining to each other why we needed to move to Brazil. About an old student of mine, from the first year in Paris. About Reinaldo de Souza, the most beautiful man in the world.
Reinaldo was angelic - the adjective is used advisedly. Not even the men in our mutual acquaintance could deny this, though they did laugh at the way the women’s mouths hit the floor when they realized what they were looking at. I can’t imagine how a man would feel if his girlf or wife left him for Reinaldo de Souza – horrible as anything, I suppose, but at least they would understand. Because let me put it like this – if a man ever dumps me for Monica Bellucci, I’ll understand. But Reinaldo de Souza made Monica Bellucci look like a perfume counter lady. Reinaldo de Souza was GOLD. Looking at him made you feel like your eyeballs were being gently massaged and fed Fazer milk chocolate. He made you feel the voice of a Farinelli or the violin of a Paganini had somehow been translated into flesh, into the form of this bewildering cabaret dancer.
What can I say about Reinaldo de Souza’s body, except that I remember every bit my eyes were lucky enough to be seared by in vivid detail. It was, I think, the prettiest flower in God’s garden. Except his face may have been even more beautiful; it was this perfect Brazilian cocktail of everything most lovely from every continent man has settled. I could have surfed the planes of that face for years, and even as one admired the blameless slopes under the gentle bloom of youth one knew that in 50 or 60 years that would still be a face only a psychopath could ever say no to. The whole thing was topped with darling dredlocks, quite fine, this touch of long scruffy cuteness on top of a divine corporeal package; a tacit message: “not only am I physically perfect, I’ll smoke reefer with you too!”
At this point I should have been drifting away into some fantastical, rather filthy dreamworld every time I saw him, but I couldn’t. I have never drifted into a filthy, fantastical dreamworld thinking of Reinaldo de Souza, because Reinaldo de Souza’s eyes, even in memory, bind one hard and taut to the moment. They were like – similes, where are you? Like two liquid pools of jade, like deep polished liquorice, like the warm hand of a saint, like the benediction of a loving God, like a little prayer, I’m down on my knees, you know you take me there . . . Okay. I know I sound a little silly. The thing is he really was that beautiful. It’s not as though his memory is idealized with emotion; I didn’t even have a crush on him, properly speaking. Having a crush requires greater self-consciousness than I could maintain in Reinaldo de Souza's presence – all I could do was bask mindlessly in the sheer summery beauty of his aspect.
The organization of the school where I was working meant the students were taught by multiple teachers in a month; I remember other teachers actually changed thier scheduals to give me thier classes with him because they couldn’t concentrate on the lessons when he was there, staring up with those indescribable eyes, a baffled little grin playing across that matchless face . . . I taught fine while he was there. I taught fine because the left and right globes of my brain would look up, see him standing there, and go their separate ways; my left brain would start spewing out the standard doggerel about the pretorate and my right brain would go gawwwwwww. He wasn’t a bad student though he usually showed up late and his attendance was notoriously bad – he did show up for every class we were scheduled to have together. I’m sure it’s because I was the only teacher in the school who could manage to string together coherent sentences while he stared anxiously up, a splendid little furrow in those splendid leonine brows as he struggled to understand . . . He was a complete beginner but he tried pretty hard, I think. God, when his darling, dear eyes would light up when he answered a question right – yeah, it was a problem to not just keel into those paradisiacal arms and curl up helplessly against him. But . . . yeah. . . I probably should have, in retrospect. Hindsight’s 20/20, yes? Anyways . . .
His French was also weak, I don’t think he’d been in Paris for too long. So I have no idea if Reinaldo de Souza was a nice man or not, because he was so fricking fucking frigging beautiful that you understood why the adjective shared a root word with ‘beatified’. He seemed really nice. He seemed like the sort of God-sent flawless man any woman in the world would marry and stay with for 60 years in a heartbeat. One felt this was the doting and rock-like man you wanted crying at your side as you lay on your deathbed, surrounded by the loving faces of the ten or eleven children you’d made together, and surrounded again by legions of perfect, biologically unstoppable grandchildren and great grandchildren. Oh Reinaldo . . . he was . . . just . . . Reinaldo.
Gentle readers, as you go through your day and annoyances rear their ugly heads, call up a memory of some event, person or thing of a beauty that can transcend any banality. For some, it’s the sun setting over Venice; for others, music that lifts them beyond themselves; for me, it’s Reinaldo de Souza’s smile. Oh Reinaldo de Souza. It’s been almost as long as I’ve loved men that I’ve realized Love isn’t blind so much as She has a sense of humour that likes to throw you for a loop sometimes, and that conventional beauty isn’t even a quarter of real attraction. And I’ve loved other men far, far more with my head, heart, and snatch - but you, Reinaldo; I loved you right from my ovaie.