01 August, 2005

Commuting, leering.

I took the train this morning through the heart of Boston during the morning commute, which was an interesting experience in itself. It's always amazing and alarming to be surrounded by people (in fact, all those typical analogies - packed in like cattle, sardines in a can, socks in a sock drawer - seem perfectly apropos) and to feel utterly isolated. It's the juxtaposition, I think - like Tantalus, whose lust for the grapes increases because they are so very near, I'm frustrated by the notion that this person I'm standing next to (possibly fascinating, probably genial) resolutely refuses to acknowledge anyone else. My half-mumbled quips and comments, fishing for conversation, seem gauche, and though no one reacts to them visibly, the air feels suddenly permeated with discomfiture.

But never mind that; what I want to write about is stunningly attractive random strangers (SARS?). I'm sure you're familiar with the sentiment, if not the specific article, and of course it's a futile project for me to attempt to construct an archetype anyway.

I ran into one on the train, you've guessed by now. I won't attempt to describe her; it would just annoy me. Manufacture your own fantasy and use that in her place (change gender to match your tastes). I've been puzzling out how to deal with this sort of person for the past couple of weeks. Naturally the first instinct, namely, to grovel at their feet, propose marriage and sign over the deed to your house, is wrong. Also the second instinct, to translucently attempt conversation, is wrong as well. And there's something not quite right about simply observing them from afar and thinking to yourself, "God. That is one fine-looking human being."

In other words, there's simply NO CORRECT WAY to interact with these people in a manner that isn't somehow offensive or disrespectful of their right to commute unmolested. Good Lord, if I were stunningly attractive (praise Jah, I am not), I would absolutely detest having a whole cattle-car full of sleep-addled ungulates ogling me furtively out of the corners of their eyes as if I were some sort of prize heifer. Daily. Jesus.

I'm somewhat loathe to conclude that what happens in the privacy of my own mind is not sacrosanct and immanently allowed, prone as I am to random, brutal psychotic fantasies. (Which, I will repeat, occur within the PRIVACY OF MY OWN MIND. Don't ask.) But human beings are astonishingly good at reading subtle social signals, and thus just as good at unconsciously giving them off. Especially with regards to attraction. I can't help feeling that making some individual into the subject of my flight of fancy is therefore wrong.

Ironically, this brings us full-circle: we're all so certain that no one wants to be ruffled, that everyone wants privacy rather than contact, that we behave as if we're traveling in hermetically sealed cocoons. Someday I'll figure out what the healthy balance between these monkish proscriptions and lecherous leering is. Maybe then I'll be able to exercise (or exorcize) my natural flirtiness.


Someday I'll figure out what the healthy balance between these monkish proscriptions and lecherous leering is. 

This sounds about right as an answer to your question :) In the meantime, there's always the book to bury your head in while you steal furtive glances. 

Posted by Saurav

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