Last night I headed into the city for the semi-regular catch-up with the boys to see a movie. As always we met at Melbourne Central, had a beer over a quick catch-up, then proceeded into the cinema. As my mates are married men the only movies we see are boy movies. This is their night out, the leave-pass granted by their missus to catch up with their mates and for a little while regress a little into that state of borderline male immaturity. Boy movies are it for that mindset, fast moving action, sci-fi speculations and raucous comedies are the go – besides, they’re the movies their wives no interest in seeing. All yours boys.
Last nights flic was Hangover 2. I saw the first with a girl funnily enough and enjoyed it more than I expected. And so when this was released we agreed that this was the perfect boy’s night out fare.
In actual fact the movie was just ok. As they say, not nearly as good as the first. The premise is fine, the locale great, but the writing let it down. Alan, the Zach Galif , character was nowhere near as funny in this one, and in fact was annoying more often than not. If I had been there I’d have busted his nose early and figured he had it coming. It has some great moments etc, but somehow the movie is less than the sum of its parts.
Afterwards we headed out to get a bite, as is traditional also. With me was Cheeseboy, as goofy as ever, and Penguin, just as immaculately presented as ever. We ended up at Cookie, a long time favourite for all and sundry, and surprisingly busy for a wintry Tuesday night in Melbourne.
We found a spare table in the crowded and buzzing restaurant section of the bar, and perused the Thai menu that has never changed in all the time I’ve been going there. We added a wine to the order and we were good to go.
We talked, we drank wine, we shared meals, laughing often and in the way of close friends taking the mickey often. Serving us was a reasonably attractive blonde with a down to earth nature who seemed to have psychic powers. We hit it off in that natural way that sometimes happens without you really thinking much more of it than that. It set me thinking though because its been happening a lot to me lately and I’ve started to wonder why.
The other week I went to a bar and one of the barmaids – a young thing – couldn’t take her eyes from me. When I went to order something, another drink, something to nibble on, she would jump to serve me to the exclusion of others. That same night I got talking to an Eastern European girl with an interesting accent and well shaped background which went so swimmingly that if I hadn’t been dragged away then something nice would have been inevitable. And that’s on top of the casual encounters which have become a regular aspect of my life in the last 6 months particularly. And others more serious.
There wasn’t any particular frisson between me and the blonde waitress; I wouldn’t exactly describe it as a connection, though that’s a closer approximation. I would call it an understanding I think, initiated on her side which I then noticed and responded to.
I thought later on this as I was heading home. I looked out the tram window contemplating these things and trying to make sense of them as if they were puzzles to be understood. There are different elements of it. There’s the physical obviously, which often is independent of looks. There’s a physical fit, an aura if you like, one body recognising and being drawn to another. I’m taller than most which garners interest, and I have a look which if not handsome, then is interesting. Attitude plays a huge part I think. It’s in the eyes and the set of the jaw, how you hold yourself, even in the walk as one woman once told me. The tale of the man – or woman – is often revealed in these small insights which add up to something more. These are real enough, but I didn’t yet understand how they applied to me individually. What attitude do I portray? What message does my physical self emit?
Last night was a good laboratory for this. There I was out with a couple of blokes around my age (younger both actually), one of whom at least is better looking than me, but I got the attention. And then I figured it.
Both guys are married. They go home to wife and children, to a life whose boundaries are roughly constrained by that reality. They still take an interest in the world, still like to go out, play up, and so on, but in effect much of their life is now internalised because their perspective is inwards, quite logically, to their family, to sharing with them, providing for them and looking to the future with them. Focus changes, as do priorities, when you have loved ones in your care.
That’s not me. I don’t have those concerns, I’m still very much an active part of the world. I walk into a room and engage with it, I size up what’s happening, who’s doing what, where the party is, and who the interesting participants are – and it shows. It shows I think – even subliminally – much in the same way as those now ‘internalised’ are seen as opposite. I see the things happening because I’m looking for them, my perspective is external, and that gets picked up on. By contrast my friends, even the good looking ones, seem more distant because they have fallen out of the habit of looking. They have what they want at home. Now a glass of wine and a good meal will do it. The rest is decoration, ambience, sound and movement that contributes to the scene much as a soundtrack does in a movie.
That’s my theory. I’m open, awake, receptive, and for some that combined with whatever individual qualities they see in me is enough for interest to be expressed, and an engagement to commence.
It meant nothing last night, as it generally means little. It’s not the time, there’s not the real opportunity, there isn’t really that driving desire to get it done. It’s pleasant yes, and enticing to consider, but then you move on, back to your friends, the conversation, to the days and weeks ahead and the opportunities that may be closed out. In And in my case for all this there is doubt – at me really. I know some think I’m some Lothario, but I’m not. I’m not that smooth, mostly not anyway. And I get surprised all the time wondering what others see in me. And in the case of someone like last night, even if I was interested I’d have paused given the difference in our ages. I’ve been around enough to know it doesn’t for much in the end, but it’s still enough for me to hesitate.
So instead we boys carried on our playful conversations. In light of the movie we had just seen we discussed my bucks party, where it would be held, who to invite, and so on. Amongst us we decided that Thailand was a good option, or if not then Amsterdam with a wedding to follow in Tuscany. In the spirit of the moment I announced to the cloud, wondering aloud what the yet to be discovered missus would think of it. Soon enough the cloud responded.
It was about 10 when we parted. The boys went one way, I went the other. The road was wet, but the rain had stopped. Though it was cool it was not as cold as it had been earlier. The streets seemed relatively busy with people going one place or another, the odd busker playing to no-one and here and there less fortunate gathering in groups or seeking shelter and the odd spare coin. I was glad to have left my friends and to be by myself again, though I never bothered to wonder why. I walked towards Collins Street thinking I would catch a tram home. On the way I checked myself: was I feeling frisky? No, I wasn’t.
In Collins Street I discovered the tram was 15 minutes off and so I went on to Flinders Street. Here the tram was 5 minutes away. I spent the time listening to my iPod and peering at some cloth caps in the window of a nearby haberdasher. Waiting for the tram was an Asian girl in tight jeans and long tan boots with a plastic bag of take-away food in her hand. I realised somewhere between Bourke and Flinders street I had regained my customary friskiness. Do married people feel this way? I wondered to myself.
I sat in the tram and watched the scenery go by. It was fun. I listened to the story of a sexy girl and high art and watched people getting on the tram and getting off. I thought about home and the feeling of returning there bright and interested. It was a good feeling and I remembered it was what I felt most nights returning home after a pleasant evening out. The joy of going out is as much in the returning home as it is in sharing the time out with friends. I was happy with this thought and wanted to cuddle up close to it as if it was all mine. That made me think to as I reflected on that. Many times I have returned home and wished there was someone waiting for me there. Often I’d have been thrilled to have that alluring other sitting opposite me as we went wordlessly home. I didn’t feel that this time. I felt glad I was by myself, as if an essential ingredient of who I am is to be solitary and reflective, and to be otherwise is to dilute the experience. Perhaps it is. It seemed strange all the same and I pondered philosophically how sometimes to share something with someone close to you is like doubling it; and at other times, less frequently perhaps, less romantically certainly, it is like halving it.
I walked from the tram stop to my home. The grass was squelchy underfoot on the oval near home. I listened to my iPod and anticipated the moment I would walk in the door and Rigby leaping upon me in never-ending gratitude. It seemed a pity there was not some sport to tune into on my return (forgetting Wimbledon was on) since I felt on. No matter. The streets were quiet and dark, the road wet and the leaves dripping with spent rain. Am I a hard case I wondered. Maybe, but it didn’t seem to matter.