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The woman you can't get
September 28, 2005
She was standing a few feet away from him. He noticed that she was wearing a black beret at a rakish angle and that she looked exciting and mysterious like someone you see driving by abroad, alone in an open car, someone unattainable and more desirable than anyone you have ever known. Someone who is on her way to make love to somebody else. Someone who is not for you."
Now, we're well aware that all of us crave what we can't have, which is the reason women play hard to get in the first place. Of course, we also assume that we can't 'get' what we want just because we don't try hard enough, but that isn't entirely satisfying an answer.
Perhaps more perspective can be shed on the subject by revealing that the 'he' in question in the quoted text above is none other than consummate ladykiller James Bond, yes, he of the twin-Os and the seven [It's from Ian Fleming's Moonraker, in case you're curious, a fine thriller that also contains handy hints on cheating at cards].
So then, there exist women even Bond can't get, and this is a somewhat comforting thought.
Some time back, I ran into this woman at a party. Now that my ramblings on the fairer sex have taken on a reasonably acceptable form of algebra, with generic letters inadequately replacing exotic names, let us refer to the lady as A. Anyhow, I mix her a superb Bloody Mary, we make small talk, and there is some dancing rendered not-awful, thanks to the aforementioned vodka-and-Worcester sauce based spirit. A pleasurable evening culminates with A exchanging telephone numbers, and one trudges home relatively content with the shindig.
Even as the evening was decidedly unspectacular, a casual drink sounds like a good prospect when A calls up with the suggestion three days later, and I obediently arrive, as always five minutes late. Conversationally, a good time is had by all, and while there is the occasionally tossed in slice of innuendo, the glasses are clinked together innocently enough, and the drive home is entirely non-committal. It's friendly, but that's about it.
Things only begin to get complicated when we decide to meet for a film the next weekend.
Women ask questions with disarming nonchalance: I'm bringing a friend, okay? Well, of course it's all right. What kind of a cad refuses to meet the best bud? So I saunter along, wondering what this stranger will be like, glad in the prescient knowledge that the film will be a good one, a blood-and-guts feast that would necessitate the minimum of conversation, thankfully. The childhood friend, B, greets me with a perfunctory wave, which was not what I expected, for some reason. B herself was not what I expected, a tall eyeful with whom I got along famously.
B and I were soon chatting fervently, finding ourselves incredibly eye to eye on everything from P J O'Rourke to Franz Ferdinand, and I was utterly charmed. Without any real attempt on our parts, A found herself excluded entirely from the conversation as we yammered merrily on. We walk in and out of the movie, tongues still flicking around excitedly chosen words.
When we sit down for coffee, and it is here that I discover the exact spot I am in. As I sit back after ordering my latté, A makes her casual, telltale move: she slips arm into mine and half-leans into me. The guillotine of realisation falls with a noiseless swoosh: I'm A's 'date' and B is completely off limits.
I manfully try to keep my groan inaudible.
Most men reading this would automatically protest the injustice of this entrapment in the situational dynamic. After all, nothing has actually, we say with indignantly audible italics, happened, has it? I haven't led A on, made any promises, declared interest. I've been careful not to hurry into a goodnight kiss, and all we've done is flirted. Come on now, we aren't bloody seeing each other. So why can't I just casually jot down B's number and take it from there?
Sigh! Because it's just not done. B and I, while potentially incredible as a couple, are frustratingly taboo. They're friends, and the way women read the situation is that since A and I hooked up, it somehow signifies an active show of interest. It doesn't matter whether we actually get along or not, or whether there even is a spark -- my interest in B is tantamount to my staring at her while waltzing with A. I'm automatically branded as a degenerate hound, simply because I met A first. It's bitterly unfair, yes, but there isn't anything one can do about it. Take my word for it, I've tried.
Even if A thinks I'm nothing but tiresome, I'm out of B's reach simply because she's A's friend. Very wistfully speaking, if B even considers pursuing an independent relationship with me, it would mean both of us betraying A. If I try calling B up, I'll probably get yelled at, my flattery nipped prematurely before it budded into silver-tongued conversation, and asked to leave the women alone. In the bargain, it's rather likely that I'll be called a philandering playboy, or some such.
What I did at this juncture was to back off. Darn all affairs, they're fun girls, let's try to be friends. Fauxiest pas of the lot, dear readers. A always harboured a vague resentment towards me, and while we all managed to hang out together, I could never quite be objective about B's boyfriends, what with Envy persistently remaining in the frame. We were an extremely weird triangle that never quite was, and our frequent disagreements were quite vexing. It now turns out that neither of us is really in touch with each other, leading me to wish I'd only run into B now.
If ever you find yourself in a similar situation, have a good evening, go home, and cut yourself off. There'll be other women, other far more fascinating women, and even if there aren't any in remote proximity to your life as it currently stands, it's really not worth what you'll inevitably have to go through. These are the unfortunately doomed affairs, never wise to embark upon, and best left alone.
Finally, would I have been so gaga over B if she wasn't forbidden fruit?
Sigh. Not a chance. You see, Jagger almost got it right with that fantastic song: You always want what you can't get.
DON JAWAN'S EARLIER COLUMN
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Illustration/ Image: Dominic Xavier
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