As in music, there is also in painting the confrontation with cultural heritage, with the past and the pictures that others, and above all of course, unattainably greater artists have painted. Just the presumption to repaint a brilliant painting in any form is a wonderfully complex feeling that I like to expose myself to. For me, it is not an attempt to imitate as flawlessly as possible, but rather the cover version of a work, as it is understood in modern pop and rock music, as a process of a rather playful appropriation of the past of one’s own profession, which also gives the freedom to simplify or even change. But now to the events whose goal-oriented idea gave the name to Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece, on the level of everyday life, especially for a still young teenager, however, brings with it great challenges.
the first kiss, pt 1
There’s got to be a history. But I remember almost nothing. She lived in the same settlement where two of my cousins and a cousin lived. There were narrowly staggered terraced houses in several rows. Cousin and a cousin belonged to an informal group of young people who, by chance, were all about two years older than me in this settlement. The processes of pair formation were correspondingly more advanced here. Who’s in love with whom? was a topic that dominated the afternoons. These people went to dance classes for advanced dancers, while in my class on the parents’ evening without the knowledge of us students questions arose about which dance school was recommended for us beginners.
Since I had occasional access to the older group through family relationship, I gladly took this opportunity to make contact, stood around in the middle of the older ones on the street and also entered an apartment that was offered by the temporary absence of parents. These “absolute beginners” cliques were not yet about sex in the real sense, the vague respect for its possible consequences was still unbroken, at least among these middle-class kids. It was about smooching. Who is making out with whom? was the question and the act of making out was the seal on whether you were going with someone, that is, a couple.
Nevertheless, the classification remained precarious and could change very quickly. There was only a vague, little elaborated code for correct behaviour on the new playing field. There was exuberance and curiosity, there was such a thing as overbearing behaviour (according to today’s terminology) and there was also a desire for it to happen. There was a speechless longing and there was the apparent bigmouth of the anxious.
In this group there was now “the perfect match”, the one girl who suited me. She already belonged to the initiates, as they whispered to me, and yet she was even a year younger than me. At some point a communication activity began around several corners. I was asked if I liked her, if I thought she was pretty, and finally if I wanted to go with her. She was asked the same questions. And today I’m sure they didn’t originally come from her or me. The collective had chosen us – and drove us incessantly towards each other. So it came to a date that neither of us had arranged with the other, but that we had obviously agreed to. Only in this way can I explain to myself the complete lack of memory of this process of rapprochement.
Obviously, I had agreed to pick her up from home, because my memory is using all its power in the necessary path from her to me. We walked side by side and I found her really attractive and I enjoyed the situation. She also seemed to have waited for me with anticipation. She smiled. We talked with a certain curiosity about our families, school, etc.. When we were out of the settlement, I grabbed her by the hand and she let it happen. This put me in the state of an unreal reality. I interpreted her tolerance as an immediate expression of affection and this idea hit me in the marrow. There was, for the first time in my boyhood life, a counterpart of the opposite sex who perceived me with the same sense as I had of him, I would say today, and it clearly sounds too explicit, as an erotic partner, as the object of a passion. In the entanglement of our hands something like the mystery of love began to stretch out its first feelers into my life. But this plant was of infinite fragility. I must have felt this somehow, too. I studied the looks of oncoming pedestrians or cyclists. If they noticed us, they smiled at us. But I didn’t see any answers, everyone seemed busy with themselves. I had a feeling of invisibility. And a feeling of holding something precious in my hands, which at the same time gave me the feeling that I couldn’t really hold on to it.
We arrived at my home, and I led them to the basement room, which weeks ago was still called the play cellar and had since been transformed by me into a kind of meeting place. Where my Trix train had previously made its rounds, where we had organized Punch and Judy shows for the children of the neighborhood, there was now a sitting area that had been removed from my father’s office and replaced by a new one, supplemented by a radio, as well as a bowl with peanuts on the table. The chairs had been placed in an adjoining cellar room because they had not yet been found to be suitable for further use. They had immediately mobilized my imagination, and I recognized the signs of my time. A place of retreat was needed. A space that made it possible for me to be. Because upstairs in our apartment it had become narrow.
Recently two more little siblings (a pair of twins) spread out there and had caused my little brother and I to share a room. So it happened that I often went to bed earlier than usual, because I didn’t really know where to go, and he had to listen to music on the radio in bed more and longer than he had done before. At least for him that shouldn’t be without consequences. But “girl visits” were not a practical idea under these circumstances. A room in the basement, this idea must have been born sometime during this time.
So I led my date with a certain pride into my basement room, followed their looks through the room, I had even vacuumed before, but also noticed first signs of unrest in me, the host. You have to kiss her if you want to go with her, those who needed to know had given it to me on the way. Yes, I am ready, I had said to myself again and again. But now the task had become more concrete and I wanted to do everything right. I was not allowed to fail and at the same time had no idea. Keywords that really stabbed me in the truest sense of the word maltreated my brain. KISS!!! With sharpened, with closed mouth, perhaps first of all on the cheek, to get used to, or perhaps nevertheless directly with the tongue, but how (why?) (yes what only?), with open mouth, but not so much spit, had I really brushed my teeth? The litany of my concerns did not stop and I fell into a paralysis that also affected my speech center. A silence arose, in which the seconds and minutes stretched to a time I had no more feeling for. Any attempt to have a normal conversation to dismiss the building tension ended in a few words that didn’t make sense. Was she not the initiate from whom I could hope for help? At least a hint. But she waited patiently, but also remained strangely quiet and motionless until my need broke out of me: “How can I kiss you? As if an unknown person sitting next to me had whispered into my ear all the time. After it was finally said, all hope for an answer disappeared, but also all tension dropped from me. The magic of our being together collapsed like a house of cards that had suddenly been draughty, and I was actually glad when soon after that she said she had to go home now. The way back wasn’t the disaster it most likely would have been at a later age. I took her by the hand again, like a good friend, we still talked about this and that, there were no more demands that overtaxed us, I said goodbye, but in the following years we rarely ran into each other, and began our soon following time of infatuations, as if we had already known back then what a RESET button is.