oh the games we play

27 October 2009

Last night I’m having a quiet dinner in the corner of The Lion and I’m trying to read my book but I keep getting distracted by a couple having an intense conversation at the next table. I’ve seen this fella in here before, having dinner and an academic sounding discussion with another younger woman in the past. This makes me think that maybe he’s a professor or a writer, I’d say somewhere in his late fifties or early sixties. I can’t see her face, but judging by the rises and falls of her voice and the perky lilt of her laugh, I guess her to be in her twenties still – probably a grad student.

I start to become mildly annoyed by the distraction – the lights in the place are dim and I have to stay really focused on the pages in order to read and I’m really enjoying the book. When I first sat down I thought, hey good for them, I’m all about academic conversations, there’s nothing I like better than having a lingering talk myself with someone who challenges me.  But the quality of the intenseness in the man’s voice soon gets interesting.  Because even though I’m not making out more than a word here or a phrase there, it is clear that the conversation at the next table has nothing whatsoever to do with academic anything. Our guy is hitting on her, and she’s loving every second of it.

It’s really amazing how you can understand exactly what’s going on between a couple without actually hearing what they’re saying. The vocal inflections and the body language tell the tale.

Every time I glance over he’s leaning toward her looking at her intently, as if the things coming out of her mouth are the most inspired thoughts imaginable. She starts expounding on some theoretical sounding notion and then giggles delightedly as he gazes with wonder upon her cleverness. He then takes whatever it was she was just talking about and turns it back around to her and asks her some question related to what she was talking about, but designed to get her to talk about her personal self. Every now and then he snaps “stop it!” in a teasing way, as if he just can’t stand the marvellous way she affects him so.

I have absolutely nothing against May-December romances – I love the idea of matchups that are a product of chemistry and magic rather than convenience and societal or cultural slotting. But what I suppose I found so annoying in all this was the implication that it was something else – a talk about psychology or sociology or whatever it was that he kept twisting around to bring the conversation to a personal level. I suppose it’s just that I like men who are direct. If they’re not direct with me, then I never seem to know where to go with it. But that’s just me – smart certainly, and dense. And I can flirt with the best of ‘em, but flirting is playful. This conversation just seemed rooted in deception.

So the whole thing got me thinking about one or two conversations-laced-with-am-I-ever-attracted-to-you over dinner with a particular man in that very corner of that very pub. The flirting was open and welcome while the conversation deep and challenging. He never had to lean into the table and look at me intently and steer discussions and pretend that the topics just happened to bring out fascinating responses in me. He liked me; I liked him; and the occasional brush of leg or squeeze of hand was a promise for later. In the meantime we talked and there was no pretence; there was nothing false about it.

Maybe it’s time I gave him a call.

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4 Responses to “oh the games we play”

  1. Tricia Says:

    Did you call him?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. Reluctant Blogger Says:

    Oh good, I’m glad you did.

    I hate to see older men working like that on younger lasses. It isn’t that I am jealous, just that it is so easy for a man in a position of authority (a lecturer) to do that. I have seen so many of my colleagues take on a new lass every year or every term even. And yes, they engage with them in just the way you describe. I watch them in the refectory where there isn’t even alcohol involved. It makes me want to rescue the girl or vomit on their food.

    I am such a spoil sport aren’t I? But you are right – it is about the deception. Many of the men I watch, who I know, are married and well, it just isn’t nice to see them use people in this way.

    Actually this made me rather cross. Perhaps I am jealous after all!!

  3. Jennifer Says:

    RB I think you’re cross for the same reason I was annoyed – the deceptive nature of it. Maybe that’s why I always struggled with the dating scene. First dates have almost always been excruciatingly painful – probably because I just can’t “play the game.”


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