Saturday, June 24, 2006

Staring, Looking, and Defense Mechanisms

Yeah, Yeah, we men do that to pretty women. And of course, age is no bar. If you say that at a certain age man does give up looking, I would say that that’s probably because he can’t, look that is, due to his cataract or whatever. We lean out of car windows, turn our heads precariously while driving our bikes, look up instantaneously when she enters the room or gets on the bus, that’s our sixth sense. Of course, some of us do it surreptitiously (the nice guys, or wimps, depending on your outlook) while some do it blatantly (the Romeos or creeps, again, depending on your outlook). Women do it too but that’s a completely different activity, they ‘check you out’. There’s a fine difference, they tell me. You tell me.

Of course, I’ve looked. But since I can remember, I also derive a strange satisfaction by looking at people when they are looking. It’s almost a double satisfaction of being in control and at the same time catching someone else unawares, unknown to him. It’s also a bit funny, sometimes, to see a vacant expression, a jaw drop. So when I see a random Ms. Pretty Woman enter the room, after a quick look myself, my eyes automatically scan the room and go, gotcha, gotcha, gotcha, gotcha and gotcha! Strange but true.

And so I admire the women who take it so nonchalantly in their stride. Outwardly, at least she appears to be so calm, all those men and their attentions so oblivious to her, as she walks across to wherever she wanted to go, while so many hearts skip beats. Maybe they are used to it and develop a defense mechanism over the years. I can’t really believe that somebody would actually like being stared at, or maybe I could, now that I think about it, but whatever.

Like I said, I am in complete admiration of such women and their forbearance. Because I hate attention myself. In my UKG report card of Don Bosco School in Delhi, which I happened to discover while I was rummaging through some of my old papers a few weeks ago, I noticed a comment, which my class teacher had written, “____ waits for his turn”. Yup, that’s me. Now don’t get me wrong. I have done enough presentations, speeches, elocution contests, hosting events, lecturing and motivating teams than I care to remember. I am talking about unwanted attention or the kind of attention, which I am not prepared for.

Since my guitar classes are on Mondays and Wednesdays after office hours, I take my car out on those days really early, and hide the guitar in its black cover under the shadows of my desk (Can’t keep it in the car, since it gets hot inside, which is not healthy for the guitar). Keep my bag so that it covers the fretboard, and pull my chair so that nobody can see the body of the thing. Escaping in the evening without somebody noticing the guitar is tougher. I am sure people are just curious and genuinely interested, but you know, me being me, I always assume the worst. Eventually a typical conversation occurs with his/her thoughts (as per my dazed and confused mind) and mine laid bare for you here.

“Hey, Hey, what’s this, a guitar?”
(What the @$&*)

(What did you think it was, my four year old son?!)

“Wow! So do you play the guitar and all?”
(Doesn’t he have any work to do?)

“Yes, a little bit”.
(No, I just carry it along to look cool)

“You know, I always wanted to learn the guitar myself”.
(If this dork can, it can’t be too tough)

“Really, you should you know, its not too difficult.”
(Yeah right, Eric Clapton with a pot belly)

“I know, I know, but too much work, man, no time. Am just leaving early today to catch Brazil playing.”

“Brazil? But that match was yesterday!”

Anyway, you get the drift.

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