The Angel of Your Elbow
(c) by the author
‘I love the angel of your elbow.’
Dieter was kissing the inside of my right forearm. He had started at the wrist and had slowly worked his way up to the elbow. The kisses were warm and wet and wonderful. From time to time he paused to set me sentences to translate into German. I moaned as he licked the inside of my elbow again. He added extra tongue action this time. It was only with great discipline that I returned to the subject at hand. Dieter’s parents were arriving for a visit in two weeks, and we were practicing German so that I could talk with them and, we hoped, impress them. ‘ “Ich liebe den Engel des Eckstück.” But I can’t imagine any reason I would say that to your parents, either of them.’
‘That is not for my parents, but for me. In any case, this is der Ellbogen. Das Eckstück is the thing under the sink, the turn in the pipes. And why did you say “Engel”?’
‘But that’s what you said. “I love the angel of your elbow.” Angel ist Engel, nicht wahr? Ich liebe den Engel des Ellbogen.’
Dieter pointed to my elbow. ‘This is not called the angel of the elbow?’ He traced the inside curve of my arm from the bicep down to the forearm. I shook my head no in confusion. I couldn’t think what word he might be looking for. He flipped open the German-English dictionary that was lying on my stomach and paged through it. The top corners of the book were becoming dog-eared. We had put it to a lot of use in the two years we had been together, more at first than now. We had made rapid progress in communicating (not that we always needed all that many words, even in the beginning), but there were still times when we needed Das Düdchen/The Little Dude, as we had affectionately christened it.
‘Here, look. The angel.’ He held the book up in front of my face and pointed to a word. I reached for the book. I didn’t have my glasses on and needed to bring it in close to read the entry. Dieter shamelessly took advantage of my predicament to occupy himself elsewhere. He has the most marvellous hands.
‘Winkel. Angel.’ It still didn’t make any sense to me. I read the rest of the entry, and finally the light bulb flashed. ‘Ah, it is a typo. “Angel” should be “angle”. G-l-e, not g-e-l. Like in geometry. But we would not call it an angle in English. It doesn’t really have a name, but some people call it the “crook” of the elbow.’
Dieter stopped what he was doing and grinned at me. ‘Why would you call it a criminal? Do you English do bad things with the angles of your elbows?’ His left eyebrow rose in a beguiling curve.
God, he is so sexy when he smiles. It’s a wonder we find time to talk at all. ‘Not crook, criminal, but crook as in “shepherd’s crook”.’ I traced the line of a crook on his stomach. ‘As in “by hook or by crook”. Like a candy cane, that curved part at the top.’ I drew the shape in the air this time so that he could see it. He rose up on one elbow and looked at me in puzzlement as he worked it out.
‘Ah, der Hirtenstab. So you have taught me a new word. From now on, I will say “I love your criminal elbow”.’ He demonstrated how much he loved it as well as some other parts of my body again.
After I had caught my breath and was able to speak again, I broached a subject that had often occurred to me during our language lessons. ‘Dieter, perhaps we should not get undressed before we practice German. And maybe we should sit at the table instead of lying in bed? We always get distracted.’
‘But this way you remember better. I reward you when you get it right and then you remember your lessons.’ The man has a devilish laugh. He nuzzled my neck and stretched his arm under my neck and around my shoulders. ‘Besides, I love the angel on my elbow.’
After that, one thing led to another, and that was the end of the German lesson that evening.