Monday, October 11, 2010

Fast Infatuation

Being out and about so much more these days than was once the case, and furthermore being easily given to distraction, I am something of an avid people watcher. Let's call it what it really is, though: gawking and ogling. I respect you too much to deliver flagrant lies to your desktop, reader. The point is that when I can't pay attention to the book I'm reading or the writing I'm trying to do on my legal pad, I'm observing the people around me. I've written of this before, but perhaps only addressed the specific aspect of this that interests me at the moment in passing. You see, I develop crushes with fairly little provocation, and so my habit of looking at the people around me is not so inconsequential as it might be were it done by someone else.

It happens most often on LA's trains- specifically the Red Line subway and occasionally the Gold Line light rail. Women who draw my gaze take the buses somewhat less often. I wonder about the ones that don't take public transportation at all- it's difficult to form an attachment with a woman driving a car that speeds by in a split second. At any rate, if it doesn't happen on a train, it happens on foot in some fashionable or at least highly-trafficked place. Wherever it happens, I always begin with the best of intentions, minding my own business. I may have my reading material, or some work to attend to on that legal pad. If it's the latter, then I am apt to stay strong longer, but I ultimately cannot resist. In the name of vigilance, I sooner or later will look around me to assess the present state of things, and then will catch sight of her- beautiful, needless to say, but possessing of other qualities that vary from case to case. She may be of such beauty that I cannot fathom a universe wherein I would have a chance. That's not a degree of beauty so much as it is a particular variety of it.

Equally attractive women of different sorts have gotten my attention.The other night there was one with reddish hair, tattoos and black tights of some kind. I couldn't imagine what business she had at a station downtown, but had to believe that she was on her way to more heady affairs than I had to look forward to. I periodically stole a surreptitious glance, hoping not to be caught and yet hoping the opposite as well. She had her music playing, and I tried to be as still as could be that I might hear and identify the music. To what end I did this I don't really know. It seemed like an investment in some kind of outcome. She retreated from the edge of the platform and sat next to me against a column, and the music became somewhat more clear. It was some kind of fast, contemporary-sounding pop that was no deal-breaker where my taste is concerned. The train came, and while we both got on the same car, I lost sight of her. It was rather crowded.

This happens all the time with me- there's one women after another, and sometimes a handful on a single excursion. I always think of this story told by a character in 'Citizen Kane'. He describes an incident from his youth: he's on a ferry, and sees a woman of some beauty. As he tells it, he sees her for just a moment and isn't seen by her at all, but has thought of her every day in the intervening years. The story is meant to convey how funny it is the things one remembers in old age. My hope is to have at least one story like that that doesn't end with wistful regret.

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