Sunday, October 18, 2009

The private, the intimate, the juicy life (II)

Since the birth of the baby, my grandmother had taken a hiatus from lovemaking. Desdemona was up half the night breast-feeding. She was always exhausted. In addition, her perineum had torn during the delivery and was still healing. Lefty politely kept himself from starting anything amorous, but after the second month he began to come over to her side of the bed. Desdemona held him off as long as she could. "It's too soon," she said. "We don't want another baby".
"Why not? Milton needs a brother. "
"You're hurting me."
"I'll be gentle. Come here."
"No, please, not tonight."
"What? Are you turning into Sourmelina? Once a year is enough?"
"Quiet. You'll wake the baby."
"I don't care if I wake the baby."
"Don't shout. Okay. Here. I'm ready."
But five minutes later: "What's the matter?"
"Don't tell me nothing. It's like being with a statue."
"Oh, Lefty!" And she burst into sobs.
Lefty comforted her and apologized, but as he turned over to go to sleep he felt himself being enclosed in the loneliness of fatherhood. With the birth of his son, Eleutherios Stephanides saw his future and continuing diminishment in the eyes of his wife, and as he buried his face in his pillow, he understood the complaint of fathers everywhere who lived like boarders in their own homes. He felt a mad jealousy toward his infant son, whose cries were the only sounds Desdemona seemed to hear, whose little body was the recipient of unending ministrations and caresses, and who had muscled his own father aside in Desdemona's affections by a seemingly divine subterfuge...

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides

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