Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Food mood, drink think
A couple of nights ago, I was at ‘Fire and Ice’ on complimentary passes. Such passes now determine whether I go dancing or stay home and plan visits to Khadakvasla in my head.
J, my steady date in such exploits, usually accompanies me after putting her baby to bed. However, Friday night, the nocturnal arrangements were speeded up as the three year old had social engagements of her own. She was invited to sleep over at a friend’s house. And since such prospects merit severe immediacy, the child ran in, shouted ‘Goodbye’ to her mum, waved at me in manner of dismissing a fruit fly, and was off.
J and I got dressed. She, resplendent in a white, sheer number, and I in a merlot, stretchy thing that doesn’t need ironing. (I’m quite no-nonsense in my attire as untidy people are wont to be.)
Now, Fire and Ice is J’s favorite jaunt. Personally, I think it’s more like Extinguished Fire and Melted Ice. The bouncers are rude, the DJs are insipid (I’ve seen more zing in a Windows pop-up), and the music cannot be danced to sober.
But that’s just me.
J took to the dance floor with gusto and was the centre of an admiring crowd. Left to my devices, I went to the bar to find out the price list. (My ways are nothing fancier than hollering, ‘How much is the beer?’ and ‘350 for wine! Seriously? Why?’) I’m sure the guys next to me thought it very gauche but I noticed they paid close attention to the bar tender’s details. Feels nice when people enjoy the fruits of your labour, decadent though they might be.
Anyway, equipped with information, I elbowed my way to J who was warding off attention from an earnest-looking bloke. I rattled off the prices and we decided to have tequila. An unsatisfactory choice.
Drinks over, the rhythm continued to get J and I frisked about the dance floor observing the crowd. This got me thinking about the question that lubricates inter-personal behavior in clubs: Can I buy you a drink?
First of all, no-one has ever asked me that. About this, several theories exist, all of them unflattering and therefore unmentionable here. My own take on the matter is that people see me exhibiting vegetable market-like behavior at the bar and think of their own diminishing stock of food. Why would you want to ask someone for a drink who reminds you of the cauliflowers and beans you forgot to buy yesterday? That is it. I evoke the domestic conscience.
So I buy my own drink and count the number of times that question is asked around me.
Some are classic queries delivered with panache. Some others come quivering with doubt. I can empathize with that hesitation, actually. I remember feeling that way when I got into a train to Churchgate for the very first time. The indicators were not working and the only way I could find out if that was the correct train was to walk up to a group of loud men and ask.
Okay, perhaps it’s not quite the same thing as asking someone for a drink. Although it must be pointed out that in both cases, the indicators were not working.
Sometimes ladies accept. I think they do that because it’s too loud and saying ‘No’ would only mean that the enquirer would want an explanation. And that’s too tedious to provide given the din. But in cases where the lady declines and the man shrugs and walks away, I feel a little sad. There’s something about a shrug that makes even the most hardened cad look vulnerable. These guys then maybe shuffle about here and there before approaching another woman. And if she says no, more shuffling and more approaching. Like that, like that.
But what really stumps me is how nobody asks about the food. How come nobody murmurs, ‘Would you like some sauteed mushrooms?’ or ‘Can I get you sheikh kebabs?’ or even ‘How about some French fries?’ Why don’t men ever ask a girl in a bar if she wants to eat? Do they think that women somehow generate a bovine system of nourishment in a club? That they would regurgitate past meals and not need fresh sustenance?
Men should know that women assess offers of dehydrating potions more strictly than offers of something solid, such as food or diamonds. And the former can be more easily arranged for in a bar.
In fact, several documentaries catalog gender behavior in clubs and peg it to anthropological evolution. So the way a man stands with his legs astride is somewhat like the hunter who surveyed the hinterland before beginning his chase. Or the way a woman tucks a wisp of hair behind her ear points to the eternal need for hair products. (No, it’s got nothing to do with men. Sorry.)
So if that’s the deal with primordial antics and contemporary behavior, it’s clear that the ‘question’ should be about food, not drinks. Which primeval food-gatherer with procreational proclivities went hunting for Bacardi instead of bison or berries?
Suffice to say that if one must play the mating game, one may as well do it right. Like the determined Neanderthal who scored with his girl because he brought back a succulent piece of a T-Rex and not some simpering bottle of Fosters. (It’s not a documented case per se, but I did think this up after having Horlicks. Therefore, I must be right.)
As with all avant-garde theories, I’m sure this will take its time to catch on. It’ll be a while before a man goes up to a woman, looks into her eyes, and says, ‘Chicken lollypop?’ Of course, with the bird flu and all, she may just have him quarantined, but there’s a risk in everything now, isn’t there?
As a woman, I do know this –a man who wants you to be fed is infinitely more appealing than one who wants to get you drunk.
Gender benders aside, the road to the heart (if that’s where you’re headed) is a burpy ride.