Wednesday, June 22, 2005

People-watching. This evening I was in Vis observing a wonderful little play unfolding at the window bench. I shall call it The Competition. Three twentysomething office types in suits were having after-work drinks: a handsome olive-skinned guy with an English accent; a pretty long-haired blonde; and a pretty long-haired brunette with equally pretty high-heeled shoes. The chicks were both wearing pants that were deliberately too long for them because they knew they would only ever wear them with high heels.

They were lined up along the bench, slightly in a circle. From my perspective, the brunette was sitting on the far left, the blonde in the middle and the guy on the right. Funny thing was, the two chicks were both angled to face the guy, almost as if they were interviewing him. Their chairs were quite close together, with a space between them and the guy's chair. Almost as if they were afraid to sit too close to him. But my interpretation was that they were each afraid to give the other the impression that they wanted to sit close to him, and as a result, neither of them were sitting close to him.

At one point, all three of them raised their voices and I couldn't tell whether they were actually fighting about something or just getting chardonnaically boisterous. Penny felt that the guy was serious, but I could have sworn that the brunette had a jokey expression on her face.

The funniest part was when the two chicks went to the toilet. The blonde went first, and while she was gone, the brunette pushed the blonde's chair out of the way under the bench and moved her own up close to the guy's chair. She was leaning in towards him and laughing. The blonde came back from the toilet and physically dragged the brunette's chair, with the brunette still in it, back to its original position, got her own chair back out in the middle, and sat down. Order restored.

Then the brunette went to the toilet and the blonde was behaving in exactly the same flirtatious way as the brunette had been earlier. It was as though they'd both watched a Flirting 101 instructional DVD:

1. Lean towards man.
2. Laugh.
3. Toss hair.
4. Caress man on forearm or thigh occasionally. (Cries of "Oh, you!" optional)

The guy was sitting in that splayed-knee fashion that men often adopt, and the blonde had her own knee right between his legs. This tactic seemed to be working - the guy was caressing her thigh, too. But their idyll was spoiled when the guy's mobile rang. It must have been another work colleague of theirs (or at least a mutual friend), because the blonde soon figured out who it was, demanded the phone, and started yelling into it that the caller "should come down here!"

While she was distracted on the phone, turning away from the guy, the brunette came back from the toilet and started chatting to him again, standing next to his chair with her arm resting on the back of it.

I could have watched this all night, but Penny and I were heading to Yoyogi with C7 on our minds. After we'd ordered, Penny opined that there were two possible reasons for such clumsy flirting: both girls were inexpert flirts; or they didn't deem the guy worthy of more sophisticated flirting. But the part that interested me was the naked competition between the chicks for the guy.

Perhaps I'm just sensitive to this because I always feel myself at a disadvantage in competition with other women for the men I want. I know people who say, "It's not a competition", "I don't buy into that competitive bullshit", etc etc. But they're able to say this because they're winners - the competition is only visible to the losers.

Like on Sunday, Leanne was saying earnestly, "There's no such thing as 'hot' and 'not'."
Bo started laughing and said, "You only think that because you're hot."
I started laughing too, but was soon coughing my guts up.

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