Cheeky! This one’s for the girls.

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I want so desperately to give up on today’s post. It’s making me sluggish and fractious. I’m trying to write about Mayerling. There is so much to talk about! It’s one of the darkest ballets. It pushes boundaries. It’s outright the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen involving men in tights. It was another opportunity to hang out in the Royal Opera House, and in Covent Garden – both places I love and places I will miss when I exchange them for Central Park and Butler Library. But, for some reason I just can’t concentrate. It might be waking up at 5am this morning. It might be the hour or so I just spent trying (limply) to plan a lesson on the present perfect (a tense I see very little point in, since all we really use it for is boasting.) It could be the guilt of having failed to complete said lesson plan. It could well be all the sugar in my Arizona tea.

It might, however, be the girl strolling around the library with her bum hanging out. Literally, her shorts are so short that the only thing preserving her modesty is the tacit agreement of most onlookers not to look too closely. Lets face it people, these are not even hot pants. These are just pants. I wouldn’t really mind if it were a nice arse. Hey, I’m as liberal and open-minded as the next girl. (Mostly because I’m still praying for the day when They say it’s alright to completely give up wearing shoes.) But to be honest this is a pretty average derriere. If this were meandering around the stacks

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I could probably get over it. But we’re talking about a totally airbrush-free zone here. It’s gnarly.

It’s also the exact opposite of what I want to be thinking about: the passion, eroticism and seduction of Mayerling. Twiglets in micro-shorts think they look hot and I don’t really have any right to argue. The sweaty 50-something security guard is absentmindedly stroking his beer gut in appreciation, so I’m guessing he agrees with them. I wonder though… if they had noticed the security guard… if they wouldn’t go running for the nearest pair of trousers? I would.

I mean, Edward Watson recently turned his boots inside out and had leather patches sewn into the soles because he had worn right through them in the throes of Mayerling’s amorous torment. The women in this story might have been wild, impassioned spirits with a penchant for adulterous crown princes… but they still got a ticking off for showing too much ankle in public. So here I am trying to cast my mind back… to that night when the champagne hum of happy culture vultures whispered into to silence, the lights went down, curtains drew back, lust and love, frenzy, joy, misery, rage and devotion owned the stage and I forgot to breathe for three hours of my life that I would give almost anything to live over again exactly the same… and there’s a girl waving her whale tail in my face. Ain’t the 21st Century grand?

Then again maybe that’s the great draw of theatrical eroticism: a chance to escape the everyday pincer movement of cards in phone boxes and Xtube.  Not to mention advertising. Ridiculous advertsthat have flipped the bird at decency as they screech past on their way to use sex as a sales pitch. In the theatre though, perched on a red velvet seat (maybe even in the company of a dashing young man, if you happen to know one) with the taste of Sauvignon Blanc still fresh on your tongue, rolling the edge of your program in anticipation and alert for the fading of the house lights, then all the pedestrian awkwardness of 21st century randiness falls away. It’s a chance to take back a little mystery, a little classiness. The chance to sip a cocktail through a diamond encrusted straw instead of a cherry flavour VK. I’m kidding, of course, about the diamonds. But the feeling is very real. Like silk against your skin instead of lycra.

Maylering has pulse, make no mistake. It’s not all demurely posed emotions and blushing at holding hands. Elaborate dresses covering every inch of the leading ladies quite quickly give way to translucent nighties. Decorously sculpted hair soon tumbles into luscious, slutty, morning-after disorder. The choreography deftly turns its focus to the many, many ways one human body can entwine itself with another. But, even including a scene in which Prince Rudolph literally tears  his lover’s clothes off, the spectacle is never seedy. This, as far as I can see, is because it is never just about sex. It’s about pleasure, yes, but also passion. Huge sweeping feelings careen about the stage, swamping the protagonists. It leaves them undone, shaking and collapsed in the spotlight… but desperate for more.

There is nothing passionate about a teeny-bopper forgetting 80% of her clothes and pretending it was intentional. It’s a little desperate, surely? I don’t care if your legs go on forever and your behind is the exact shape of a peach (not sure why a peach, but that is the comparison de rigueur, it was probably Shakespeare’s idea) there is no value whatever in everyone being able to admire it for the price of a turn of their head. Come on girly, leave a little mystery for the rest of us. And while you’re at it, go and see Mayerling and take a few pointers because I have never seen anything sexier in all my theatrical meanderings (yes, I am including Game of Thrones) and there was not a single naked bum in sight. I am not afraid to admit it, I MISS PASSION. Sex is everywhere, but passion seems to be hiding behind the safety curtain and I am tired of its exile.

I hope a friend of mine will forgive me mentioning her personal life, but she recently chewed over a problem with me and she isn’t the only girl I know who’s facing it. How to tell the man you’re seeing that you want him all to yourself without making a fool of said self?? Conclusion: you can’t. If he wants to trade you in for a less monogamous model you have two choices. Go with it; tie your self-respect to the bumper of your car and drag it behind you as you drive into the sunset. Or take the hit, get dumped on your a*se. Unceremonious is not even the word. If he’s on the same page then what was all the worry about, you’re a ninny for giving yourself frown lines?! The main thing that weights my spirits down in all this is where the nerves come from in the first place. Why do us girls all get so embarrassed about what we feel? I know I have been completely humiliated by revealing the merest corner of a feeling. And later I’ve been so disappointed with myself for being embarrassed. I’ve frequently gone the other way too, pretending interest where really there’s just a tumbleweed of bungling apathy rolling through a desert of absolutely no fondness whatever. Still it is not embarrassing! It’s chemistry. Brain chemicals going haywire is no more embarrassing than burning your morning toast. Mildly irritating, yes. Embarrassing. Hell no! Rudolph and Mary (utterly unsexy names not holding them back for an instant) threw themselves into love. Mary may even have been the first lady to boldly go with the totally-naked-under-a-big-coat-sudden-appearance-on-her-lover’s-doorstep move. And she didn’t spend the carriage ride over chewing her fingernails and thinking “oooh, but what if he says we should just be friends?”

Before you climb up on your honor and point out “but it’s just a ballet, calm down you crazy bint, and anyway in the end they both shot themselves” let me tell you this…. it’s based on actual events. Boom. Yes, you can have the bloody violent death, good point: no one is claiming passion is easy! But what is so wrong with owning how you feel? It’s not over-thinking, in fact it isn’t thinking at all. It’s feeling. I’ll say it once more, with feeling… feeling. This is what happens when we let boys run the world: mass emotional constipation. A world where girls are more willing to risk life-long bouts of herpes rather than ask a guy not to sleep with anyone else, because she’s so afraid she might be accused of feeling something and end up a laughing stock. How about we try staking a claim on what we want? If we get the knockback, flip two fingers at them in the rearview and keep a weather eye on the horizon for the next likely lad. Horrific collision of nautical and automotive metaphors aside, what is really the worse that can happen? A little blushing… pfft.

So this is my conclusion. Put your butt cleavage away. Pry a little mystery from the sweaty fist of the porn industry and stand up for what you want. Come on people, show a girl some passion.

Big love.

xxx

P.s. I looked up pictures of Angelina Jolie’s bum in a public place for this, so I really do appreciate it if you made it all the way to the end. Have some more love for your efforts. 🙂

A side order of drama with your dinner?

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“I’m just going to tell you right now. That’s not a real thing.”

My first thought, in that uncharitable vein humanity is sometimes cursed with, was thank God that isn’t me!
I am a sensitive creature and I’m pretty sure if a disgruntled coffee gremlin had sighed that at me, with such unctuous disdain, my face would have melted off.

As it is I have a front row seat to someone else’s humiliation. I felt bad for the guy for about a split second before New York reminded me that this was New York and the customers can give as good as they get.

“Just make the closest thing to what I said.” If this man had actually added “you serve caffeinated beverages to people with more important lives than you could even dream of, remember your place” he couldn’t have sounded more superior. True story.

Oh, and in case you haven’t guessed already. We were in Starbucks. It was not quite my first trip into a real life American Starbucks, but I hadn’t quite managed to shake the intimidation factor. I was learning more generally that New York has less than no patience with lollygaggers. (How could it. I’m fairly sure “lollygagging” isn’t part of America’s lexicon.) The form seems to be 1) Ask for what you want clearly and concisely. 2) Omit any and all superfluous syllables. Gratingly for a Brit this includes please and thank you. 3) Get the hell out of the way as soon as you’ve got what you asked for.

I’m aware that I have a flair for the dramatic, but I promise you this time there is no hyperbole. I have another example. More evidence. Picture the scene.

Dad and I are in a restaurant. It’s moodily lit: electricity’s approximation of candle light. There are antique wine jugs stacked in dark green waves on filigreed iron racks. Woodwork stained almost black strikes the senses against the pale tiling of the floor. It’s achingly hip in an ancient sort of way and we punters happily hand over fistfuls of dollars for the ambience. Not to mention a chicken pot pie the size of your torso and the best crispy squid since… well yesterday actually: my Dad and I are fans of squid. But the setting is not really what distracts me from my truffle butter. The real draw is the duo on the table to our left.

My first, joyfully judgmental, impression is an older man with his younger “bit on the side.” Oh my dear reader, it was so much better than that. The woman is dressed in black. Wild dark hair matches her wildly reeling voice too shrill for the tightly packed restaurant. Even above the chitter of 100 other conversations she’s more than audible. She’s sucking down oysters between cackles, chunks of gossip and sharp comments on fellow diners in her eye-line. The man isn’t listening. Nor is he hoovering his share of the oysters. The man has grey hair, a little thin on top. He looks weirdly familiar and my mind gropes for a celebrity name to match to his face but comes up stumped. I’m not completely ignoring my Dad so I don’t catch all of the conversation as it meanders through catty observations about people she knows. I do catch a comment on how the breakup of a friend’s marriage had better not take up too much of the woman’s attention, she has a busy week at work coming.

Suddenly I am thrown into discomfort. The warmth of empathetic embarrassment clenches at my heart, careening up my neck to heat my face. Under the table my toes curl up in borrowed shame. The waiter has come over and gestured at the lady’s bloody mary. “May I get you another?” The woman doesn’t even look up. “Not now.” I flinch. This is so rude! I glance reflexively at the waiter, trying not to be too obvious. I’m expecting anger, a sneer at the very least. Nothing. A bland, pleasant smile. He retreats and is at the service of another table before I can  fully register his total lack of offense. The lesson seems pretty obvious I suppose: don’t beat around the bush. Save time. Say what you want and nothing more. Manners are a time suck. Leave your British civilities in customs with your confiscated jam and tea bags.

Here is where the duo becomes irrelevant to the beginning of this post, but the rest of their evening was too good to pass up. Still recovering from the rudeness, I tune out for a while. By the time they wrest my attention back the oysters have been cleared and replaced with a salad and a hamburger. I have to swiftly turn away for a moment as the man starts eating, for fear of seeing my own dinner again. I hope for the sake of the next reference that my dear reader has also read The Odyssey.

Odysseus’ crew, exhausted by sea voyaging, starving and filthy, flock to Circe’s table. Greedy for comfort and warmth as well as food they forget themselves. Bringing forth their true natures, Circe transforms them into pigs. Now imagine the middle stage of this transformation. The men haven’t realised what is happening to them. Perhaps they still have human heads and mouths. Their human jaws still work, grinding away, but their limbs are changing. Fingers fuse together, the bones liquefy, reforming into the four basic metatarsals of a cloven hoof. The flesh melts, flowing sluggishly into itself until it covers completely the newly formed trotters. The men feast on unaware. They shovel the food into their mouths. It’s a repetitive scooping motion; in under the greasy shards of meat and quickly up again, to faces hovering just inches from loaded plates.

That’s how this man ate.

At some point he must have paused because he voice broke through the hum of the restaurant.

“There’s something I must talk to you about.”

Just at that second the impeccably patient waiter returned. He gestured once more to the drained bloody mary. “May I get you another.” The woman didn’t look up. “Yes. I’m gonna need a drink for this.” She cackled through a mouthful of crouton. The waiter retrieved her glass and sped away. Around about this point I realised that my basic assumption had been wrong. These were not a pair of age-blind lovers. These were semi-estranged father and daughter. He was spoiling her with a fancy dinner in order to talk about something sensitive. She had known what was coming. She relaxed back into her seat, her arms rested on either side of her plate, cutlery raised combatively in his direction. When she asked what the woman wanted him to ask her, I didn’t catch the name of the woman in question, but it seemed to be a stepmother figure, a current girlfriend of her father’s at least. “She just wanted me to ask you, once and for all. Did you take it?”

Pause.

“No! How could you- No! Of course not. No!”

“Of course, of course I believe you. I believe you. She just wanted me to ask. Once and for all.”

The conversation moved tetchily forward, they touched on rifled purses, cupboard doors left open, the last time she had been at the house. The Stepmom’s hurt feelings, betrayal, disappointment. The daughter’s more stridently wounded feelings, more stridently expressed at least. I couldn’t quite grasp what had been taken stolen but since hoofbeats usually mean horses I’ll go with money. We paid and left before they reached dessert.

Out on the street I asked Dad if he had heard any of the conversation. We recapped what we had gleaned. We walked in silence for a while, absorbed in our own thoughts.

“She definitely took it.” I said.