Friday, May 24, 2013

No sex and the city

There are some people who, if they'd just had the disastrous date I've had on their last night in New York, would despair. But not me. It's all grist for the writing-mill. I don't need a superannuation fund, my retirement plan will be a best selling memoir titled Dear Men of the World: just because I'm buxom, doesn't mean I'm going to sleep with you!

The first thing you need to know, is that yes I have large breasts. Since I was about 15 I’ve been either a C or a D cup. And that’s meant since that time men have judged my personality and character by the size of my boobs. The offers, catcalls and leers I’ve had directed at me since I was a teenager have been on a sliding scale of crude to offensive and harassment. Even the good guys can’t help but stare. I once went on a date when I lived in Edinburgh, with a radio-advertising executive I’d worked with on a PR campaign. He was used to seeing me in office clothes. When we sat down at the restaurant and I took off my coat, I didn’t think my dress was particularly low-cut but his eyes did that thing you only see in cartoons when they pop out of someone’s head. I didn’t think that was even possible. And after a reading I gave at a Catholic wedding, the very sweet and very devout priest said, “I’ll now ask the breast man to give a reading.” My friends still haven’t let me live that one down.

The second thing you need to know is that yes, I’m in New York at the moment. I’ve been here for a couple of weeks, living the high life. I’ve had wonderful friends visit and have gone to shows, eaten great food and been shopping, shopping, shopping.

On my first day in the city I went shopping in Soho, near the corner of Broadway and Lafayette St. One particular shop caught my eye (the word SALE may have been involved) and in I went. I found a truly gorgeous blue organza and cotton top that fluted down into a mini peacock-like tail. The shop manager was very taken with me straight away. After a delightful spot of mutual flirting, he asked me out. I gave him my number but told him I was spending time with a good friend who was visiting so he could call me after she’d left. He respected that and after some toing and froing we arranged a date.

What a frisson to my travels a bit of light-hearted flirting gave, and I noticed that men all over the city were eager to indulge this with me. Every time I spoke men’s eyes would light up and they would want to hear more. It’s rare that an Anglo-Australian gets to be exotic, so yes I lapped it up. It’s been fun and harmless and something that doesn’t happen in Canberra, where flirting seems to be a lost art. Here smiling, holding a gaze and laughing are all about attention, not intention. That’s the big difference; it’s just about sharing a moment of mutual interest with someone and making each other feeling a bit special. It isn’t about trying to get into someone’s pants.

So I was excited to be going on a date with someone I’d enjoyed such a moment with. Of course, I might be light-hearted and adventurous when I’m travelling but I’m not stupid, I made sure I let my big sister at home know where I would be, what his name was, his phone number and what shop he managed. To be honest I didn’t even know his last name, and I was a bit nervous about going out with a stranger when I am totally on my own in a strange city. I even dreamt the night before the date that we were in Central Park and had to escape a horde of marauding zombies.

As it turned out, it wasn’t zombies I had to worry about. More like a giant octopus with tentacles. His hands were EVERYWHERE within the first five minutes. I had to brush him off my arse and somewhere even more intimate, and I don't mean my boobs. I made it clear from the get–go that I wasn't going to sleep with him. And after that it became a game of how soon he could find an excuse to leave. 40 minutes. I ended up heading back to my own neighbourhood and buying myself dinner. At least there the waitress admired the lovely silk dress I’d put on. And then a man at the subway exit turnstile admired the very fabulous shoes I was wearing, so the care I took with my outfit didn’t go unnoticed.

So here I am, in my New York apartment, writing about a crappy date. How very, very Sex and the City of me. It’s just as well I am a writer; although if I wrote this up as fiction people would say it’s too far fetched to be believed.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The bell, the ghost and the stone angels

A vintage glass bell is not the most practical travel accessory but it seems fitting for my travels.

It hasn’t been with me the whole time; we found each other in the seaside town of Rockport, Massachusetts, an hour out of Boston.  Rockport has a long history, it’s America’s most renowned artists’ colony, and its harbour is the view most depicted in artistic interpretations in the whole country. I was staying on the headland, overlooking the sea, and visited the town by taking the old Garden Path along the shoreline. Even if the guesthouse I was staying in hadn’t been called The Captain’s House, I still would have expected the dashing poltergeist from The Ghost and Mrs Muir to stop by. Sadly no such visit occurred, which is probably for the best, although I know he would have liked my glass bell.