Ah men

Rub-a-dub-dub
I’ll get along a bottle of wine and if you’re good I’ll give you a backrub.” I read the text thrice. Go into contacts to check if somehow the name and number had got mixed up. For why would he, who I’ve met but twice, professionally, and who has hounded me seeking a follow-up meeting, assume he’s coming home? And when did he graduate from making presentations to making moves? I, for one, didn’t remember his last name, his face, or, for that matter,
his presentation.

illustration / Tirtha Ghosh

They usually have a cat fetish. Ad men, if not, filmmakers or marketers. On the cusp of success. Are around 28. And are presumptuous young men. Nothing turns them on more than an older, attractive woman. Also successful? “Killer!” So convinced are they of her drear (desperation?) subtle snubs go unheeded. They offer backrubs when the agenda is a brand brainstorm. Bank on propriety (yours) to have that intrusive FB request accepted. Ask, nonchalantly, if you’re unattached. Compliment you with abandon.

However... all remotely. Hello there, candy-pink machismo. For when faced with the cougar who isn’t pink isn’t panther. The backrub comes to the fore. The preserve of his left eye. Rub. Rub. Rub. But no genie appears, poof. Captive yet in that promised wine bottle that he gets along not. And that come-hither coquetry from the North Pole? Pfft... 

He’s almost sweet. Only, I like puppies, but strictly of the dog genus.

Humpty Dumpty
The Bombay Gym Bar yields many an animal. One such familiar species talked shop with me at length. And parted such: “Let’s sew this up over a coffee.” We were good to go. The project in motion. We in tandem. The coffee? A flag-off. I showed up buoyant but business-like. Only, the business dawned on me when he opened with, “You never looked this hot when married.” Cocky. Check. Wily. Checkmate. For the bimbettes, the diamonds. Thinking man’s crumpet? The project. Nice...

And yet, I concede a smile. (Humpty Dumpty had a great fall...) Sit myself down, order my chai and biscotti, and play pretty. Mr Cool. Almost 60. Much married. Much dad-ied. Almost famous. Much moneyed. Much celebrated. Almost suitable. Meanwhile, conquest. I’ve bitten. And he smug. Almost… routine? Hmm. I lean back, and sip a sip. Then lean over and meet his eye. Gently now. Your being married is a concern. Slight. Your being happily married? Comforting. Almost.

“Honey,” he says. Glib. Smooth. Unaffected. “Of course I’m happy. For she knows.” ‘Tis a joint operation. They together for wont. The children. The joint accounts. That slow-cooked comfort of growing fat together… “We’re like brother-sister. Looking out for each other.”

So much to learn. So much not to judge.

And bimbettes are smarter. Almost...

Li’ll Bo Peep
Friday night clubbing. Self-imposed Cinderella-sque deadlines demand I call it a night. I walk out of the bar, and hail a cab. When he opens the door and motions for me to get in. “You can’t be going home alone,” he says matter-of-factly. Ah, the boy! He was quite the dancer. Well-bred too, I muse, and voice the same.

“But you don’t quite like me.” Perhaps my scorn for the bar flies had been misdirected. I pat him reassuringly -- sweet child. In a flash my hand is in his. And he asking, charmingly, having bypassed the furrowed brow and holding my glare, “So, do you like me, then?”

His hand is neither clammy nor cold. His gaze steady. His voice strong. It’s hormones alright but isn’t he just a boy? How old are you, I ask even as I try and recall his Dad’s name. A distant acquaintance. “How does it matter,” he says gently, “I like you.” Forget being flattered or offended, I’m amused.

The taxi serendipitously taxis my neighbourhood right then. I hop off. “Won’t you ask me up for coffee?” Ah, the uninhibited flight of adolescence! Do I nip his exuberance saying his existence, as male, hasn’t dawned on me? That he doesn’t man my grown-up universe. I wave him off … Details are so middle-class.

And pigs have wings. And boys are men.

PS: If one does not seek validation or even pronounce judgment (one’s own as much as the others) on such everyday brushes. Romantic or prosaic. Personal or professional. But, bathe in them unabashedly. Delve and not denounce. Selfishly extract. Then, life relents. She follows. You lead...

Nupur Mahajan is a sum of many parts. Ideas are her business even as her creative streak sees her straddle television, advertising, publishing, radio and brands. Reach her at nupurmahajan@icloud.com

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