Once I opened a door and caught sight of my ninety-year-old grandfather kneeling before the jolly, dumpy brunette widow of a certain notary. The lady winked at me over my enamoured grandfather's head, and smiled gaily, revealing two rows of teeth too perfect to be her own. I left, closing the door gently, before Grandpa was aware of my presence.
What was the secret of Grandpa's charm? I only began to understand years later. He possessed a quality that is hardly ever found among men, a marvellous quality which for many women is the sexiest in a man:
He did not just politely pretend to listen, while impatiently waiting for her to finish what she was saying and shut up.
He did not break into his partner's sentence and finish it for her.
He did not cut in to sum up what she was saying so as to move on to another subject.
He did not let his interlocutress talk into thin air while he prepared in his head the reply he would make when she finally finished.
He did not pretend to be interested or entertained, he really was. Nu, what: he had an inexhaustible curiosity.
He was not impatient. He did not attempt to deflect the conversation from her petty concerns to his own important ones.
On the contrary: He loved her concerns. He always enjoyed waiting for her, and if she needed to take her time, he took pleasure in all her contortions.
He was in no hurry, and he never rushed her. He would wait for her to finish, and even when she had finished he did not pounce or grab but enjoyed waiting in case there was something more, in case she was carried along on another wave.
He loved to let her take him by the hand and lead him to her own places, at her own pace. He loved to be her accompanist.
He loved getting to know her. He loved to understand, to get to the bottom of her. And beyond.
He loved to give himself. He enjoyed giving himself up to her more than he enjoyed it when she gave herself up to him.
Nu, shto: they talked and talked to him to their hearts' content, even about the most private, secret, vulnerable things, while he sat and listened, wisely, gently, with empathy and patience.
Or rather with pleasure and feeling.
There are many men around here who love sex but hate women.
My grandfather, I believe, loved both.
And with gentleness. He never calculated, never grabbed. He never rushed. He loved setting sail, he was never in a hurry to cast anchor.
in A Tale of Love and Darkness pp.110-111
© Amos Oz and Keter Publishing house Ltd 2003
Translation © Nicholas de Lange 2004
Uma História de Amor e Trevas
e outras obras de Amos Oz em português