Brief encounters

On Saturday morning I went up to the nearest major shopping strip to get a coffee. I try and get out of the house as much as possible. Chaos reigns more often than not, a confusion of bodies and shouting up and down the house, and the odd shrill scream. It does nothing for my peace of mind, and I figure besides that since I’m imposing on them it’s no bad thing to get out from under their feet too.

It was hot Saturday and quickly approaching the top temperature when I drove up the street. As I keep saying it was so bright that the light seemed white. There was not a millimetre of cloud, just an interminable blue summer sky.

I ended up at Laurent, were all the well to do ladies of the area congregate for a civilised cappuccino whilst nibbling on an equally civilised – though possibly naughty – French pastry. It’s not really my sort of place, but then my sort of place is rare in the suburbs. I’m not crazy about the bread and think the coffee is no better than mediocre. I have nothing to say against the pastries.

I ordered a latte and a pecan tart and found myself a vacant spot near the back of the shop. It was saturday morning crowded. Middle class folk and better crammed the shop sipping on a coffee and chatting, or else reading through a newspaper. It seems very much not my crowd. In my mind they’re older than me, which is probably true, but probably by not as much as you think. You’re a pair of eyes that takes in the world, forgetting to look in the mirror. You feel the age inside and not the age you look (though I still look much younger). The real difference between us is probably background and lifestyle, and undoubtedly attitude.

I sat and read the Arts section of the Weekend Australian. I felt in no hurry to get out into the heat again, or to get back to – what? I lingered, taking my time over the coffee, enjoying the richness of the pecan pie. Beside me were a young couple with a baby. They left and a middle-aged Asian woman took their place.

She was 45-50 I thought, slim, well dressed, though conservative in manner. She was better than plain, though nor could she be called pretty. She presented as an intelligent, well read woman, perhaps a little prim on the surface, a woman of regular and well-ordered habit. She began to read from the features section of the Australian as I glanced across at her. My first glance was cursory, the sort of look you give someone coming into your field of vision. I looked again, stayed by something I couldn’t immediately understand. I watched as she read, imagining her life – single I thought, and a regular here judging by the response from the staff. I imagined this was her weekly routine, and in between times she lived close by where she read and listened to music, going out occasionally to see a show or concert. She was that sort of woman I thought, and in many ways I appreciated that – that lives in me too.

Then as I watched and without thinking about it I imagined her naked. This should not be misconstrued. It’s common to do that when you’re out on the town or in the company of interesting women. Common for me anyway. In those cases there is a strong sexual element. There’s some voyeur in the act, but ultimately it’s about you imagining being with that woman sexually.

That was present on Saturday, but not at first, and it certainly wasn’t the reason I did it. She sat there composed and buttoned up. I felt drawn in some way to the picture I had formed of her in my imagination. In fact I imagined chatting to her about books and music – a rare pleasure for me. I could imagine going out and enjoying those shows with her, and discussing them afterwards. It was an alluring, though surprising discovery. To then strip her clothes off in my minds eye and to picture her completely nude was a juxtaposition of desires. It was as if I wanted to mesh the intellectual to the sexual, then strip the intellectual away. To speak of these things and to discuss them while I took her clothes from her piece by piece, to hear her voice in my ear telling me what she thought about this book or that play while I stripped her naked. I wanted, I think, to hear her voice catch as she moved from intellectual discourse to sexual yearning.

There’s nothing more sexy than a clever woman, except perhaps a clever woman naked wanting you to fuck her.

Have I described this well? I’m not sure. I sat there surprised at this and cogitating on what it meant. I actually imagined doing these things, though not in any serious way. I wanted to put the possibility to her, surprising as it was to me as well – that’s not really my scene normally. In the end we did briefly talk, the friendly and meaningless chit-chat of strangers who briefly encounter. I wish now I had have said something more. It was full in me, and no bad thing.

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