Tuesday, October 25, 2016

LOOKING LONGINGLY

Sometimes it’s agonizing,…not being noticed. There’s a Janet Jackson song off her “Control” album; it serves as the soundtrack of the moment: “He Doesn’t Know I’m Alive”. I stare at him, one second, three seconds, thirty. Doesn’t matter. His head is buried in the financial pages of The National Post.

There’s no ring on the long fingers of his left hand. How is that possible? Maybe it’s nothing personal. Maybe his head is always down. He’s thin, his shoulders are slight. But he exudes a kind of sex appeal that comes from not knowing. The wavy salt-and-pepper hair adds to the ooh-la-la. (My chronic state of singlehood is not helped by the fact my brain thinks in terms like ooh-la-la but, golly gee, he’s all that and some extra la-las to boot.)

He’s got that Mediterranean olive complexion. I imagine he’s Portuguese. Accent or not, it doesn’t matter. His face is long, unblemished and...perfect. Delicate. Pretty. This was my ideal kind of man before being an out gay man led to years of overexposure to masses of muscle packed tightly into white tank tops.

He wears simple casual clothes, stylish, new. The blue sneakers still have that new-shoe gleam. The dark blue jeans shoe no sign of fading. The black hooded jacket remains zipped up, sagging a bit too much but it looks great on him anyway.

I’m this smitten.

Once or twice a week he comes into the café where I write each weekday morning. When he’s not consumed by the newspaper he stares at the screen of his laptop, gazing at stock market graphs. He’s never even glanced my way. That makes me feel more desperate, like a sixteen-year-old in high school, yearning to be noticed, befuddled by what makes others the center of attention while I am forever enshrouded by an invisibility cloak. Magic? No. A freakin’ curse.

I tell myself there’s nothing to be gained from continuing to look. The ooh-la-las don’t lift me as high as they should. The sense of oblivious rejection—not even worth a glimpse—carries a stronger, downward pull. Ah, but so beautiful. My very own Siren.

Perhaps it’s just as well that I don’t register. I know nothing about stocks. I don’t even like The National Post. I can’t make chitchat in the best of times. I doubt I could dazzle him with “Nice that it’s not raining, eh?” (“Tell me all about Portugal” seems too risky.)

He neatly folds his paper and places it in a pocket of his satchel. I don’t know how it’s even possible to fail to see anything around you, but he’s completely in his own world. Maybe it’s a skill you learn when you’re so regularly and aggressively ogled. He gets up, turns and exits. I watch him cross the street as his stride turns to a dash. Off to catch a bus? Or maybe he noticed me after all.

Perhaps it’s better for both of us if I switch to writing at the Starbucks down the street.



  

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