Here’s what women say, they say: ‘I loved him for his way with words, I loved the skin around his eyes.’ They subdivide their men, they apportion to them grassy knolls on which to loll, they make swamp bogs (the things they cannot love) and bottomlands (the areas with margin for improvement). They make mental lists: his nails, his teeth, his nose hairs. They think of men not so much as objects of their love but as a toy that comes wrapped at Christmas, unassembled. His gentleness with dishes. His ‘visions’. His wretched socks. The way he tells a joke, the way he shifts the Datsun. The way he lifts his head from kisses on our breasts and gives us back a breath of our perfume. His naïveté in the face of doom. His stomach muscles and the sweep of his long back.
A man is something which is nothing like the full sum of its parts – the way a snow crystal is not. A little dust, a little air, a little water at high altitude do not freeze the mind in wondrous contemplation of the universe until, in combination, catching on a random tuft of crimson scarf, a snowflake, fluidizing, breaks a woman’s heart.