It was a day like any other. I was still in Bali trying to do as little as humanly possible while continuing to justify my proclamations of being a writer; the only thing giving my drinking any semblance of legitimacy. Sometimes, like right now, it doesn’t come quite as easily as I wish it did.
I’m not sure if this is because I’m not a very talented writer or because I tend to get distracted by, well, everything. Loud noises, fast movement, beer, shiny things, all seem to want to drag me away from my SERIOUS WRITER BUSINESS.
The worst offender, with me being a virile young man in the prime of my life, is girls. Of course. Women. Femme. Frau. Nü. Chica. I like females. I think they’re rad.
So regardless of whether I’m completely and utterly entrenched in the pursuit of something noble, like my earnest attempts at creating a rich lyrical tapestry through words and imagery, if a pretty girl walks into my field of vision my mind instantly shuts down all mental and physical apps not required to maintain life so I’m able to fully admire the transitory aesthetic splendour.
Now I understand there’s a strong possibility that this declaration may come across to some as excessive or vulgar and, to be frank, there’s every chance that that’s the case. But I put this to you: Would you pass up the opportunity to witness an eclipse? Would you choose not to discretely admire its intrinsic and ephemeral beauty?
Not only are they extremely rare; they’re a marvel of goddamn nature and should be thusly appreciated. Like women.
Thus endeth the rant/justification. Or “rantification” if you’re into portmanteaus.
With that in mind, I’m writing, or attempting to, in a restaurant/bar/warung while enjoying a delicious plate of assorted seafood and greens, savouring a cold beverage and digging the view of the street that the open design provides me.
The street is delightfully distracting for a self confessed people watcher like me. A never ending cavalcade of interesting shapes and sounds fashioned into human form, all moving about their daily business; more often than not completely unaware that a social voyeur is monitoring their movements/behaviours/exchanges.
The list of the unknowing participants from today’s procession goes something like this…
An inversion of the usual trope: a strapping young Filipino man partnering an aging Australian woman.
A greying couple who are charmingly oblivious to their ridiculously uncool hats.
Chinese tourists by the busload that don’t need to use footpaths.
A Nordic blonde riding uphill on a bicycle. Sans helmet.
Numerous Balinese men fanning away the ever oppressive heat with their handmade “Taxi” signs.
Deeply tanned Anglo girls (always in multiples of two) saunter past wearing daisy dukes, singlets and attitude.
A particularly droopy man with long dirty hair, who looks like the ghost of Alice Cooper, is followed by his rotund Asian wife.
Numerous people contorting and twisting maps into every conceivable combination, like a Rubik’s cube.
A shiny, happy couple speaking some kind of vague Eastern European language I couldn’t quite place.
Middle aged men, looking like overburdened Sherpa’s, following their leaders/wives.
And hundreds of completely unremarkable people not worth writing about.
The aperture of my view allows for a 7 second window into their lives if they’re on my side of the street. A mere 10 steps. Triple that if they’re travelling on the opposite side of the road. You would think that short of hurling expletives or exposing yourself it would be somewhat difficult to offend/disturb a random passer-by in the space of those 7 seconds, or 10 steps.
This is how I inadvertently accomplished that task.
I’m sitting there doing my best to concentrate and ignore the thrall, and failing, when on the very edge of my periphery, I notice a startlingly attractive, buxom, young woman with long dark wavy hair strut by. She’s wearing a pale yellow, off the left shoulder, mid-riff baring, long sleeved top and the tiniest blue shorts I’ve ever seen; complete with golden stars appliquéd to the left cheek. Her shorts are held in place by a rainbow belt, which matches her rainbow socks perfectly. In contrast, a solidly black tattoo of a butterfly could be seen deviously poking out from underneath one of her rainbow socks.
So vivid was the striking-ness of this supremely beautiful girl it almost made me squint, like accidentally witnessing every single part of the suns brightness suddenly trapped in the windshield of a passing car.
She’s followed closely by a man significantly older than her, yet still handsome in his own right. Funnily enough, I take no notice of what he is wearing. Though, due to my admittedly awestruck and subsequently un-stealthy gaze, I notice that he notices my admiration of his female companion.
As I stated earlier, the window of opportunity for communication is 10 steps maximum. Understand that this all happened within 7 seconds so I’ve broken down and slow motioned the scenario for your reading pleasure.
I’m indefensibly busted. So to dissipate my guilt I give the man paired with this fleeting goddess a nod and slight eyebrow raise to acknowledge his achievement. An expression that (I hope) conveys a respectful appreciation for his partner’s awe-inspiring physical attractiveness. I don’t regularly engage in this awful “wink wink nudge nudge” behaviour but I was just caught ostensibly leering at his partner and this was an act of harm minimisation. Rather, it was supposed to be.
I understand perfectly well that what I’ve just been caught doing may be looked upon as untoward…
…but the severity of look this man shot at me was borderline irrational and dripping with disdain. It was a look that said “You are a truly heinous creature and you disgust me.”
I couldn’t understand the severity of it.
I mean, it wasn’t as if I were curb-stomping baby pandas in front of crying children. I was simply, and very briefly, admiring his radiant girlfriend/partner/wife, then attempting to “fix” the situation by being open about it. Perfectly harmless, if imprudent, and not deserving of such scorn.
“Why is he so incensed?”, I pondered.
Then it started to dawn on me. Slowly at first, but building towards an unstoppable moment of horrifying enlightenment.
“Oh”, I thought. Cogs turning…
“Oh shit.” Almost there…
“That’s not his partner.” Yes, go on…
“That’s not his partner as all. That’s his daughter.” Bingo! Give the man a prize!!
Not only did I get busted checking someone out, I, seemingly, confidently nodded my approval to her father. Classy.
I mean, I might as well have asked him how much it would cost to buy her.
Before I could attempt to atone for my attempted atonement both he and his clearly identifiable and now perfectly understandable scowl were on their 11th step and had moved beyond my frame of vision. Never to be seen again.
This was most likely for the best.