Rosa Beltrán  
Lavín, Mónica; Segade, Gustavo (2001). Points of departure. New stories from Mexico, San Francisco: City Lights Books

portada-points.jpgI have a lover twenty-four years older than I am who has taught me two things. One, that there can be no true passion if one does not cross some limit, and two, that an older man can only offer you his money or his sympa­thy. Rex does not give me money or sympathy. That is why he says that our passion, which has transcended limits, is in danger of beginning to extinguish itself at any moment.

First Night

Before meeting him, I had attended two book presentations and nothing had ever happened, which is just so many words, because actually it's when nothing happens that things are really happening. And that time they hap­pened as follows: I was alone, in the middle of a crowded room, asking myself why I had decided to torture myself that way, when I realized that Rex, a famous writer I knew only by name, was seated next to me. When the first participants reading was over, I applauded. Next thing I knew, Rex raised his hand, rebuked the participant, and took his seat once again. With very few variations, this was the dynamic of that presentation: papers were read, fol­lowed by applause, and Rex either praised or destroyed the speaker, always commenting with quotes from one of the Great Figures he kept handy.

Someone read, Rex criticized, another read, Rex criticized, I applauded. If minimalism is foresight and the reduction of elements to their lowest possible number of variables, this was the most minimalist presentation I had ever been to. The penultimate presentation by a feminist author having ended, Rex criticized, I applauded and went to the ladies room. I heard him say that human stupidity could sink no lower. When I got back, before the event had led, I noticed that Rex had his hand on my chair and was distractedly coning with someone. When I pointed to the place where I'd been sitting— which his autonomous, palpitating hand now guarded like a crab— Rex looked me in the eye and said, "I put it there to keep it warm." Two hours later were making love, frantically. That's what they say: "frantically." Also: "madly." In love, borrowed phrases are everything, and you can never be sure saying what you want when you love. But, when you want with all your ht not to be there and cannot do it, what do you say then?

Third night

The first thing I must admit is that I don't know very well what nihilistic decadence consists of, because before meeting Rex I had not thought about it. According to him, the term defines Generation X, the most decadent and luckless generation of this century, to which I unfortunately belong. But if I wanted to follow the plan of action I should follow according to Rex, I could regret one act: having sat next to him, such a famous writer, at a book citation. The golden rule among people who attend this kind of event is no one should get involved with anyone else, and that friendships, if any Id develop, should be based upon the purest self-interest (I give you, you ue; I introduce you, you introduce me; I read you, you read me), or total disregard. Rex says that any relationship that isn't a result of alcohol is false.

Seventh Night

Today Rex and I decided on something quite original: that no two people ever loved each other the way we do. And to confirm it, we used the phrases all lovers use. One single being in two different bodies. Twin souls amidst a multitude of strangers. A hundred different vaginas and only one real cunt.

Tenth Night

This had been going on since the first time, but I had forgotten to mention it. We were in the climactic moment, making love frantically, as I have said, and suddenly the room was full of visitors. The first to arrive was She of the Extremely Narrow Waist. Rex began talking about this old lover of his because my posture reminded him of her. She was decisive, ardent, and a brunette. You had to grasp her tightly by the waist because if not she was likely to fall off. "Like this," he said, squeezing me. "Oh, how that woman could move up and down," he added, while holding on to me, nostalgic. But after a while, he pointed his index finger and warned me:

"Many may imitate her, but no one can equal her, no one."

And, sunk in this reflection, he went to pour himself a whiskey. After a few minutes during which I, who had also lapsed into a kind of dream state, was pondering the great passion between Rex and me, he broke the silence:

"She could squat perfectly," he said, referring to that other woman, "Look, I get goose bumps when I remember it."

It was true: the sickly white skin, untouched by the sun for years, had little pointy lumps all over it.

"Like a flesh piston," he said, as if in a trance, "up and down, beside her­self, over me, emitting impeccable cries."

According to Rex, that squatting woman's performance art was excellent. She made him reach the heavens, without any exaggeration, six times. The very day she gave herself to him, before leaving, She of the Extremely Narrow Waist asked him to make love to her from behind.

"She wanted to make me an offering," Rex explained, "a gift."

After this confession, which seemed quite strange to me, there was another silence. I thought Rex's story was an indirect way of asking me for something, so I wrapped my arms around a pillow and offered myself, on my hands and knees, with my back to him. "Don't move," he said, and in a few seconds I saw camera flash. I waited a bit longer, but nothing happened, and after a few anxious moments, I heard someone next to me snoring.

Night 69

"Why do I like it so much when you talk to me about your old lovers?" lied.

"Because the flesh is history," Rex explained, quite serious, "although this understood by very few people."

And then, very close to my ear, he whispered:

"Flesh for flesh's sake does not exist."

Night 104

Two weeks later, he brought me the photo. Along with a letter that said, "I lore the dark star of your forehead, but I adore a thousand times more the her one, the shameless one, that bottomless abyss that unites us." All the rest was interminable praise: of my breasts, whiter and more beautiful than those of Venus; of my buttocks, as round and full as those in Ingress paintings; of my thighs, my perfect back and belly. Of each centimeter of my body, always in comparison with other women. Never had anyone been more beautiful than me: none of the lips, navels, hair, nor long necks that preceded me could compete with me, according to Rex. Freud says that in every sexual relationship there are at least four people sharing the bed. In our case there were least twenty. Or thirty. At least that's what I thought at first. Little by little I began realizing that if Rex's ex-lovers had been crammed into the room, we could have had to leave for lack of space.

"Wouldn't it be better if we used a condom?" I suggested.
Rex's refusal was categorical:

"What would have come of the Great Lovers of History if they had messed th such petty things?" he said.
He immediately got out of bed, dressed and left, slamming the door.

Night 386

For some reason, I feel obliged to declare that I enjoyed a happy childhood, that my father loved me a lot and that he was not a macho dog. Or maybe he was, maybe he was as macho as others. But this has nothing to do with Rex and me. What's wrong between him and me is simply a matter of polarity: men bore me, as they do all the women of my generation, which as I have stated, is called Gen X. This I have been able to prove. "Political correctness" is nothing more than a kind of cynical hypocrisy. It is the pretension to asepsis on the gloves of the surgeon who uses a rusty scalpel, and the world is not an operating room.

Night 514

At night, after we part, Rex puts my name under his tongue. He keeps it there all night, like a chocolate kiss. For me, on the other hand, his gestures become fuzzy, his hands, his body over mine disappear. I can only remember his voice. Like a movie I saw in which the characters date by telephone with­out ever meeting, Rex has become an audio person, incorporeal. Rex is the shape of his words. And his words, the love inspired in him by the women who came before me.

Night 702

Yesterday he brought more women into the room. Their names surprise me more than they do, they make me imagine a thousand and one possibili­ties. She Who Cried over Cioran; Scorpion Woman; The Immutable Beloved; The Wild Nun. Each with a very specific history and way of making love.

"My women have always been willful," says Rex. "They have known how to choose their positions. On top, or cross-legged, on their side, each according to her taste and preference."

My unspoken role was to imitate them. And what is more, to surpass them. If I improvised some gesture, Rex would subtly move me into one of their poses. The Lady of Ancient Lineage, for example, very upright on top of him, casting her disdainful gaze upon the world, and he would tell me her story. I never learned their real names.

"Its out of respect," Rex said, "to avoid running into them on the street some day."

One afternoon, while making love, I made the slightest hint at improvisation, and as I began kissing him, following the road from groin to eyelids, he compared me to Eve. "The first woman," I thought proudly, and in response, walked all around the room before Jehovah arrived and chased me out of paradise.

Night 996

I had lost count of how often we met, given the relative manner in which ne had begun to elapse and, as you would expect, Rex's whims had multiplied. To accomplish them he began postponing his trips and lectures, which is not an inconsiderable gesture given the money he earned, or rather, didn't run because of seeing me. He invented more and more unrealistic pretexts to cancel his appointments, to stay far from his family, and began exercising his amatory functions much like a runner on the stock market on Wall Street, on le and implacable. I was his lover, he said, it was because of me. What could lo but respond to such dedication with matching fervor? Suddenly I was obliged to surpass the squatting of She of the Extremely Narrow Waist, keep-; my legs in the air for hours like Scorpion Woman, perfecting the timing of e Frog, or remaining perfectly still on my side, like Singing Spoonful. Most en, no matter how tired I was, I had to move frantically, my hair waving in wind like Yesterday's Medusa, the lover whom he had the hardest time for-ting. Along with my erotic gymnastics, I had to go hungry for hours, even ole days, pale and with dark rings under my eyes, sustained only by the say-of Chateaubriand that the True Lover must resist all assaults like a city in is. As if this weren't enough, one day when we had made love for hours, not to mention that this had gone on for days, Rex decided to turn on the television in the hotel room where we met. I got scared to death when I noted the stoicism with which Sharon Stone, totally nude and perched upon her lover, a tie around her neck and without missing a beat, held her breath as he, lost he purest pleasure, strangled her as they performed coitus.

"Leave it there," said Rex, pouring himself a whiskey, "don't you dare change it."

And looking at me knowingly:

"That's how we can come up with some new ideas."

I got up with difficulty, and painfully walked to the minibar. He explained what he would do to me when I got into the tub, when I bent over, trying, use­lessly, to dress, when hours later, I would fall asleep. "There'll be no time­outs," he warned.

I took out a Coca Cola and put it next to my ear: inside I could hear the virtual bombardment of an imaginary city.

Night 1000 and One

Yesterday afternoon, I tried to give him an ultimatum: them or me. It was a moment of despair, I admit. I was fed up with competing with other women. I wanted to be loved for myself. "But you encompass them all!" Rex said to me, moved. At times like that I feel I can't let him down. The worst thing that can happen is that tomorrow will come (which is the only thing I desire) and that I, being solicitous, will be obliged to surpass the pleasure of the preceding nights. The next worst thing is that, his repertory used up, Rex will see me as I am and decide that the moment (fatal) has arrived for me to become part of his inventory.

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Edición: Rodrigo Martínez  
Diseño: Sergio Martínez