at sixteen my roses were real
when you came to dinner i was thinking about the first date i ever had. she was sixteen and i brought her red roses, we saw a movie and kissed, it was the roses, now you are here wearing a white dress that shows your body, we eat in silence, i think of sex. i think that you think of sex. when our eyes meet i feel a constriction in my throat and i look at your potatoes while you blush gently and dabble at your mouth with a pink napkin, i wonder why i am here. fool, you clear your throat, swallow, daintily ask how my vegetables are.
"what," i say i was busy thinking of her lips and why i asked her to dinner, trying to convince myself that it wasn't her hair, her eyes, her way of putting a hand on her throat and leaning towards me when i talk.
"oh fine," i recover gracefully and propose a toast, she is shy and looks at the tablecloth, i calculate my chances, they appear good.
"just fine," i say.
when i was sixteen and my first date was dressed up like a white lily on easter Sunday i played for fun. now, aware of what losing can do to me, i use roses as a tool, dinner as a circumstance, and my actions are decoys, romance — much like flowers — dies and withers shortly despite costing much, after the toast — a sweet one (i practiced earlier, for spontaneity has frightful consequences) — i touch her hand, i smile inwardly, we are not children anymore, i mumble tender words, they float across the table, dazzle her, make her wet her lips, maybe i would like to be sixteen again, no. leave romance to those who know nothing about it. the color has faded from my roses, it is in her lips tonight, the novelty is gone, bringing candy is tedious, i force the image of my first date from my mind.
"some more wine?" i ask.
tonight i am an old warrior who wants more than just a kiss knowing all the while i will never be satisfied, she floats in my sphere of knowledge, i know what she wants, i know she imagines wild, touching love letters written by candlelight and sealed with kisses, surprises in the mail, something affectionate and demonstrative everyday, to be amused and kept happy, someone to tell her sweet things and remember her birthday, buy her the things she's always wanted and the things she never knew she wanted, all without saying a word, a romantic mindreader. an amorous sensitive creature to sprinkle alternately teasing or soft phrases on her ears depending on her mood, to watch sunrises, hold hands on walks in quiet woods, exchange vows before fireplaces while the snow drops tranquilly outside, bake cookies or spaghetti together, laugh forever, be amused continuously, i have seen it before, i think she should have known me 10 years ago when youthful idealism convinced me that giving roses and fuzzy teddy bears to a woman was heroically romantic before i drank the wines of bitterness and discontent.
we are on the couch now — soon i will kiss her. should it be this predictable? i whisper into her ear about emotional and expected things, she giggles, i recite poetry, she is mine, as our lips meet i think, briefly troubled, that tomorrow i will still be disgruntled and ill-content and spend my day smoking and trying to reconstruct when it was that roses changed from being extensions of my emotions to means that satisfy ends, merely tools, she will be crestfallen, but life is for picking up pieces and gluing them back together, breaking the back of the optimist, there will be other nights for her when white dresses are worn, wine poured, and meaningful glances exchanged, it is better for her to learn early that one cannot live at sixteen in one's mind forever.