Monday, May 26, 2008

More Drinking

J tells me he wants to talk to the girl sitting at the next table. I turn around to look, because he keeps staring at her. I get the impression that she remittingly turns to look at him as well, but I cannot tell from where I'm sitting. My back is turned to her. J now penetratingly looks at the person behind me and I can't help but turn to look. I don't see her clearly, because she is fiddling with her phone and her head is bent to it, but I see she has long hair. Not absolutely flowing, lustrous hair or anything of the kind, but fairly long, nice and attractive hair that suits the posture in which her head is bent. She feels mysterious already but I couldn't care very much. Something in me is already jaded and dreadfully turned off by the idea of meeting new people, on random encounters. J and I sit at the bar, far away from school, and random encounters I could avoid.

I haven't exactly understood the motives of the person with me. Not motives regards the person behind, but the more general notion of motives, about life and men and women and school. What does he really want out of it? Or more importantly, is there any such thing as wanting - something specific - from the life he lives? Drifting. Being. Not wanting. They are all so tempting, and are so lovely when they 'happen' to you. I haven't understood what he thinks he's best suited to do. Be fantastically immersed in the rigmarole of school life. Be absolutely, phenomenally socially adept - making as many a part of his regular circle of people-to-amuse-and-spend-time-with as exists the number of people in class. Be reclusive, be patient and be stalwartly in academics or sport. You know, assiduously working your way up the calibrated ladder. It's all a part of school. It builds up, both in practice and in your mind. You work toward something and you work against the rest. But slowly, and very imperceptibly, it begins to fade afterwards. Beyond that part of life, and into another, something stranger happens. You build and you imagine a ladder of your own, a concessional check-list and rules and standards of your own - against the imperceptible ways of which everything else pales. It's becomes a part of the oblivion into which you've pushed everything from the earlier ladders and rules and standards.

People change as well. J and I keep sipping at the rum-and-coke. I insist on the rum and refuse to try any other concoctions. It's ridiculously enervating to do this with J. Because he wants to rant off a list of fancy cocktails he knows and swears by - by what standards, I don't know - and launches into long harangues if met with disagreement. I mean, getting sloshed isn't about the fanciness of it. It's not pretty, it's not about the dough. It's about feeling silly and listless and very out of place in public. It's about the waste of time. The dwindling of energy. The need for more. And the frighteningly blissful journey back. To J, however, it isn't so much about these things. It is about the need to say, well, that these are the names I swotted, these are the prices I find impressive and these are the things we're going to talk about whilst pretending to be drunk: sex, movies, sex, books, sex, teachers-I-find-strange, sex, friends-I-don't-like.

The girl behind is now preparing to leave. I can tell from the look of pure panic on his face. He doesn't even pretend to be discreet. He looks longingly at her and I can tell she's noticed. Maybe he is already drunk, after all. I feel fit as a fiddle. Nothing as premature arousal for me. I cannot tell why he wants to look at her, or catch her eye, which he's now done, so insistently. I mean, she's moving away, she's lifted her bag. Her shirt is tightly pulled against her chest and her trousers are still professionally tapered to the ankles. Her shoes are Converse. Her bag, I can now see, is practically a bag, and not a frilly purse clutched against her side or anything. She looks happy as she walks up to the bartender, at the counter, and pays off. She doesn't want to chat but she looks happy all right. Nothing extraordinary for someone who's obviously being ogled by an under-age toddler at the adjacent table. I could kill J for making us look so desperate for attention. We aren't; but he can make it seem like we are. Good riddance.

Why do you keep staring?

You know what it is about elder girls that is so, so good? They're always responsive, you know? Not like schoolgirls at all? I mean, so people in school can be so dumb-looking? They talk but they never really emote? They just talk with their mouths and their words and everything, but you don't feel like they're saying something from the inside? Now bigger girls, they're something else. They don't even have to say anything. You already know there's something going on between the two of you.

That's bloody presumptious. What if she finds your staring and your stupid, aimless smiling the most annoying thing that could happen to her on an afternoon like this, and wants to really find out how far you'd go. She just lead you on, smiled and pouted back, suggesting she's attentive. Hell, she isn't. All you could be of interest for... I don't know what for. She's just playing on your volunteer service. What a pissing-off shame.

I cannot tell him that bigger girls are not always genuinely interested in you. I cannot describe to him the complicated nature of inter-sexual relations. For example, I could tell him that some girls only look to you for attention. But I couldn't explain why, because in his mind, as was the case with myself (thankfully), human relations assume a pristine kind of being and countenance from the way things work out between people at that (his) age. People look to you for friendship, or to be intimate, because you interest them and they find you attractive. Or they think you're kind or talented and they could make something of your feelings. Or that you could make something of them - use them to realize your ambitions, or what you really feel about life and the way things work around you.

Here, it's a far more carnivorous jungle of disorganized brigandry. Sometimes, interest is only a matter of 'visible association'. By which I mean, some people deliberately seek out the 'visible' company of another person, so that they could go back to chatter and gossip and conversation and state the inviolable fact of the two of yours deep and powerful bond. Sometimes, it's just to see at first-hand what others have described of you. Like a specimen. In a social laboratory. You need to be observed and the observations of others need to be verified and (in)validated. It's difficult to know the difference, because mixed motives can spur and egg the meeting or the 'visible associating' of two people on. Otherwise, they want you sexually or competetively. They want to know what you have by means of academics/work/relationships. They want uninhibited making-out. The latter eventually never works out - either it's very inhibited and sickeningly unsatisfying, or it's plain impossible.

I cannot tell him these things because he has to discover them for himself. All I can say is:

Let's go back now, we can't be here long.

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