Sunday, November 27, 2005

(written at 5pm in Hampstead Starbux, but I was being good and not online)

I feel dirty.

I’ve done my usual Sunday routine – Costbucks (papers, people watching, writing) but I ran into someone I vaguely know (quelle surprise, Hampstead, after all) and was totally, compellingly, addicted to his conversation with his two buddies.

I’m power-cable chained to the wall with my laptop, and two guys come in and take the comfy chairs. I glance at them (surreptitiously) and immediately clock them as Jewish, north London, thirties. They are not tall. When they sit down, I get a good view of their baldspots.

They look nice enough, actually. The kind of guys I’d run into at a party.

I’m with my writing, but then a guy comes in to meet them who I do properly recognise. I try not to think about it.

Backstory: about five years ago I went to the largest, heavingest party in a flat above East Finchley tube station. Everyone I’d ever met in my life and their friends were there. You couldn’t move. Coincidentally, this was the party where my best friend met her now husband.

I remember what I was wearing (because I always do): a brown Whistles skirt, and a brown velvet shirt over a camisole.

It was really, really hot because there were like three times as many people as should properly have been allowed in the flat, had health and safety rules been observed, which they rarely are, at parties.

I got a bit overwhelmed, and decided to get some fresh air downstairs with my friend F. there were a couple of people milling around outside, too. F and I were chatting, and this guy came up, ignored me, and talked to her. She tried to include me in the conversation, but he was rude: glanced me up and down and returned to her.

After about fifteen minutes (it felt like, could have been less) and taking account of my feeling hot and sweaty and not so in the party mood, I decided not to bother going back upstairs and to leave.

As I walked away, I heard him say to a nearby friend “ugly bitch.”

Now I know that I am of above average attractiveness, and on a good day, I can see forever, but I wasn’t in the mood to debate my good looks or otherwise with this balding, paunchy guy (who little knows that I am – sadly – genetically disposed to finding his characteristics attractive).

But when I see him – which I do about once a year, usually at a party – I’m disinclined to engage with him. I don’t even know if I think he’s physically attractive anymore: his meanness of character is so etched on his face, to me, now, that I sometimes feel slightly nauseous when I see him.

Fast forward to now: he’s sitting there with his buddies, and I can hear them dissecting women like they’re on the biology table in the lab: pretty girl, didn’t fancy her. Blonde or brunette? I only do blonde. Too curvy by half.

“It’s only been two dates for you, but the way she’s been behaving, she’s already made her mind up. Which part of English do you not understand?”

And I realise they’re like modern day explorers: three shortish guys who should be in the gym instead of Starbucks (but then so should I) seeking out the most perfect specimen.

That’s what I call them. Seekers After Perfection. SAPs, for short. People who care more about muscletone than character, people who’ll fine-tune their search requirements on some online dating site, narrowing and narrowing the criteria till there’s no-one left to interview and they can moan to their friends that there’s no-one left.

Here’s my two’pennorth: relationships are risky. If you want to open yourself up to the possibility of love, you have to take the risk of rejection. And by passing over the whole of North London womanhood with a fine-tooth comb and deciding that no-one quite makes the grade, they can be sure that they’ll never be a rejectee, just a rejecter. Which is ultimately less painful, but probably less fun.

They just left. Maybe they can feel the vibe.

No comments: