“Don’t let yourself die without knowing the wonder of fucking with love.” – Thoughts on Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (translated from Spanish by Edith Grossman)
I cannot claim to have wholly appreciated Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Memories of My Melancholy Whores, simply because, at twenty, I am too young to appreciate his character’s life’s longevity as well as his having never fallen in love. Heck, I can’t even pretend to know the difference between mere sex and passionate love-making. But Marquez writes with such a passion that it reaches out to you and makes you feel it too, and for that alone my romantic self swoons.
I will always have a thing, so to speak, for male romantic writers, or men who write romantically, or boys who write down their feelings, and here was an almost-century-old columnist who decides to fuck a virgin on the eve of his 90th birthday – an understandable conquest for a man so widely known and respected in his community, but was secretly the resident Casanova for decades. The thing is, regardless of all things accomplished, he was lacking in something vital: he had never fallen in love, ever. And at ninety, would you even care?
But lo and behold, that is exactly what happens to him on his 90th birthday: he falls in love with the virgin prostitute (what an oxymoron) offered by the brothel of which he is a regular. But this girl is too tired with work and with taking care of her siblings that she is fast asleep – and he lets her be. He lets her be, again and again.
And this first love of his, it invigorates him to no end – “age isn’t how old you are but how old you feel” – and both torments and teaches him things that, at the age of a decade removed from a century, one ought just reminisce about. But here he was, learning about love and all its trappings: “…love taught me too late that you groom yourself for someone, you dress and perfume yourself for someone, and I’d never had anyone to do that for.”
As for the melancholia, there is much, because isn’t it that where love is, there’s bound to be a bit of heartbreak? Here, let me hint at it with this quote:
“I buried myself in the romantic writings I had repudiated when my mother tried to impose them on me with a heavy hand, and in them I became aware that the invincible power that has moved the world is unrequited, not happy, love.”
Ah, young love – and yes, first, though aren’t first loves the youngest of them all?
PS. There was this little gem of a quote that enlightened me about the difference between sex and love-making, and quite blunt, too: “Sex is the consolation you have when you can’t have love.”