Thursday, 18 August 2005

That Stranger in the Bookshop

While I was trying not to well up in the window of Pret, Slightly Lost was thinking about his knickers. In the aftermath of Saturday's exertions, I was looking forward to a quiet day on Sunday but it wasn't to be so.

After the monthly meeting of my reading group where we discussed Avoidance by Michael Lowenthal, I had coincidentally arranged to meet Slightly Lost to go and see Mysterious Skin (based on the book by Lowenthal's boyfriend, Scott Heim) at the Prince Charles'. An interesting (and dare I say, enjoyable) film about the same controversial issue as Avoidance. Both are well worth checking out.

Since the film was at 9pm, we had plenty of time to kill. Again we indulged in a session of talent spotting at a terrace in Old Compton Street, the only worthwhile reason for the existence of which is precisely that: to see and to be seen. We then wandered about and ended up (surprise, surprise!) in a bookshop. Blackwells on Charing Cross Road, to be precise.

I think it would be fair to say that in my desperation I have turned into something of a human radar; my eyes constantly searching my surroundings for a nice piece of manhood to ogle. Despite its ideal situation right at the end Old Compton Street, Blackwells does not usually reach the fullness of its potential in that department. What this says about the members of the gay scene, doesn't bare thinking of.

I had a look around at the new books and after a while, I joined Slightly Lost in another part of the shop where he had wandered. Always the one to go for highbrow, he was checking out a book which had caught his eyes. There was no price on it however, so I suggested he should go and ask someone. He went to do just that and I followed. And that is when I saw them.

Two guys. They were standing on the route to the information desk, chatting rather than looking at the books. One of them had that gay look about him: low cut baggy jeans, tight t-shirt highlighting his nascent belly and a haircut courtesy of Edward Scissorhands! Nothing worth looking at. The other one had a more unusual look and at first I did not really pay much attention to him. After a second take however, I was hit with the full force of the blow.

Not very tall and of medium build, he was wearing flip flops, baggy jeans with a white shirt open low and showing a few trinkets hanging on his tanned and lightly hairy chest. Probably in his early to mid thirties, he had the straight nose and strong masculine features of an antique statue. The most striking trait about him however were his longish curly brown hair, which, in their unruliness and helped in this by a trimmed beard, were hiding most of his face. The colour of his eyes, I can not tell. First I thought they were brown, then taking another look, they seemed green and then again brown.

London is a wonderful city which provides many opportunities to enjoy the sight of some very nice looking men indeed. Opportunities that I rarely fail to grasp. And yet no chance meeting that I can recall has ever made me feel like the way I felt in that bookshop. When looking at this hirsute and sexy man, I suddenly found myself tingling all over, inside; like I was electrified. The strangest thing is that he did not even meet the characteristics of my usual types. Slightly Lost was himself not impressed, saying incredulously that there was nothing of interest in this guy and not realising how moved I actually was.

Slightly Lost went and paid for a book he had picked up and dragged me away from the shop. I grew very quiet and despondent, sporadically fighting back tears which I would probably have let overcome me had I been alone somewhere. Slightly Lost noticed fairly quickly. We wondered aimlessly for a while. This is how we ended up in the window of Pret-a-Manger at the top of St Martin's Lane and why, presumably in a attempt to cheer me up, Slightly Lost mentioned his knickers. Eventually I was asked to explain what was happening to me. I was not sure myself and even now I can only repeat what I said then: that walking away from the bookshop was like doing the opposite of what I wanted to do and what I felt I should be doing.

Slightly Lost, I think, misunderstood me slightly and seemed to think that I had grown sad because of another missed opportunity. It was more than that however. My guess is that it was something akin to what people call "love at first sight", although it seems to me fairer to call it "lust at first sight". How can you love someone whose personality you know nothing about?

As I said, I do not know what happened to me there. The guy does not really fit in with what usually attracts me, yet produced a far stronger reaction than the men who attract me ever do. There was no sign of reciprocal interest in him which could have added to the frisson and to be honest I am not even sure he is gay. The sensations have now thankfully subsided even though my radar has slightly altered its target and I find myself half-heartedly scanning the crowds for "him" as well as for attractive guys to ogle.

In what was most certainly another attempt on his part at comforting me, Slightly Lost, letting loose his spiritual mind, tried to conjure up the thought that this encounter was possibly only a teaser (quite literally) for another, more fruitful one, should our destinies be bent that way. Part of me (the prepubescent teenage girl part of me) wants to hope that this will happen but I know that as time passes, this will just flounder into the depths of my memory as another quirky but barren episode...

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