Bellagio sighed, looked off into the distance, then at me with something like compassion and sadness. I imagined I could see a thousand failed love affairs pass before his old eyes. "Maybe with this young man, it will always be this way," he said, "but at some time in life we all play all parts in love. It's inevitable." He flashed me an impish smile and lifted his two index fingers, parallel, not touching. "Let's say that when you sat at the play with your young man, you were leaning this way." Slowly, he tilted his right finger to the left. "He was leaning this way." Bellagio's left finger followed the other, tilting so that the fingers were once again parallel. "Maybe someday, if he leans this way," Bellagio pulled the original finger back, "then you can begin to lean toward him." The other finger rushed to rejoin its partner.
"I don't like being the one running away," I said. I felt regret, especially remembering my first month with Daniel: perfect. But I confess to feeling, along with guilt, a perverse pride in my growing indifference. Bellagio quickly put me in my place.
"One day you will play the other role. You will be the one wanting more from someone and he will be the one leaning away."
Dread rushed in to replace my egotism. As much as I hated being responsible for Daniel's anxiety that he wasn't getting enough from me, I felt a sense of relief that I wasn't the one lacking, out of control. "But real love isn't like that. It should be fair! It should be balanced!"
Bellagio smiled. "Love? Were we talking about love?"
After that night, thinking about Bellagio's theory, I began fantasizing about leaving secret notes under Daniel's door. Hold back. Don't give so much. I had a gnawing sense that all Daniel needed to do was pull a stunt or two, something calculated to make me jealous, and my feelings for him would awaken. At our next meeting, I told Bellagio my idea.
"There's one problem with that scheme," he said. "Another law of nature. We love what is scarce, but you can't make yourself scarce when you don't want to be. It's a psychological contortion. Like trying not to blush, or suppressing a sneeze. Desire, like truth, wills itself out."
Two weeks later, Bellagio dropped a book in my lap. "We're going to be looking at the greatest psychologists of all."
I looked down at the title. "Economists?" I was perplexed.
"Of course, economists. They study what people value. So tell me what people value. What do we value?"
Bellagio lit up his pipe. "Why do we value gold?"
"It's beautiful? Useful?"
"What else? Why is gold expensive?"
I said the first obvious thing that came to mind: "Because there isn't much of it?"
Bellagio brought his hands to his lips as if in prayer. "Exactly."
We Hear You!