Thursday, March 22, 2012

I asked out a stranger on the subway

I was on the M train going home after work, alternately watching and pretending not to watch—in an intentionally visible wayan attractive twenty-something woman talking to her friend about her sex life. It was hard not to keep looking at her, which was fine with me since I had no intention of not looking at her. She was somewhat short, but not really. She had sort of curly dark hair, thick dark eyebrows—but not really all that thick—and a face that I guess I would call a Jewish face. This is probably a wrong thing to say, but I say it with true praise and warm feelings. I'm just trying to give you a ballpark picture of her appearance, so make of it what you will. She might not be Jewish at all, who knows? Also, she wore browline glasses, which never look less than fantastic on a woman, I think. As she spoke, her facial expressions were wonderfully expressive. (Strong eyebrows are always such a help in that area.) However, I should admit that her face was not exactly the first physical aspect of her that drew my attention. When she had boarded the train, I was reading a book, and so my eyes were what you might call downcast. It was from this perspective that my gaze landed instantly on her legs and her perfectly wide and shapely hips, which were encased in the most exquisitely formfitting pair of beige(?)-colored Capri(?) pants, above which was an inch or so of bare skin followed by some sort of magenta (wild guess, I don't remember) top, and eventually, yes, her face. Although I find the word annoying, I will go ahead and say that she had a general look you might characterize as "hipster", if that helps you. (Contributing to this vibe was her suggestion to her friend that they pick up some PBR at the store later.) In other words, she was a hot, nerdy, cute, hot, beautiful Brooklynite, aged 21-25 or thereabouts. Just my (stereo)type!

Meanwhile, I was listening as well as looking. I couldn't hear every word, but she mentioned that she'd been with a guy the night before, and that it (it = sex) had been good but not as good as she'd been hoping. "How so?" was the approximate question asked by her friend. "Oh, just that he was only into the same old positions..." began the approximate answer, which trailed off more or less exactly as that ellipsis indicates, according to my memory. But in general she sounded quite pleased with the experience and was in a quite cheerful mood. The two friends talked a little more about this, that, and the other, and soon it came time for them to switch to the J train. I followed them as they exited the M, went down the platform a little way, and boarded the waiting J.

By this time my heart was pounding out of my chest. Having made brief eye contact already, I knew it was likely she had noticed me following them on to the train. The sex talk also contributed to my accelerating pulse. Standing very close to her, I was about to speak, but the timing wasn't quite right, so I waited until they got off the train, luckily just one more stop.

"Excuse me," I said as we stepped onto the platform together. We continued walking.

"Yes? [or a word to that effect]," she replied pleasantly, seeming not in the least surprised.

"I wanted to ask you..."


"This isn't something I normally do, but..."

"That's okay, ask away." (I don't really think she phrased it that way; I don't remember any rhyming. But it's as close as my memory will permit.)

"Well, I was just wondering ... if there's any way I could buy you a drink sometime."

Now she did seem surprised, which surprised me, but neither her surprise nor my surprise was bad surprise. Smiling, laughing, possibly blushing (I never know how to spot blushing—I feel like it's a myth), she said, more or less, "Oh, actually I'm dating someone right now but that's really flattering, thank you!"

I acknowledged her reaction with an appropriate expression of good-natured gentlemanly resignation, smiling right along with her and saying, "Yeah, I just saw you and had to ask."

"It's very flattering. Thank you."

"Have a good night," I said, gracefully taking leave and heading back in the direction from which we'd come.

"You too!" she said over her shoulder.

After waiting a minute or two for them to leave the station, I turned around again and continued toward the exit. I crossed to the opposite platform, as I had to go back one stop to catch my M train.

I was sad that she wasn't available, but I'm glad I made her feel good, and that she had a friend there to witness it, which I'm sure made it all the better for her. I'm not a person who goes around doing nice things for people, so hopefully this doesn't sound like bragging. It's just that it feels good to be able to do something like that every once in a while. Quite the adrenaline rush too. I chugged a tall cup of water when I got home.

And that's the story of the second time I've asked out a stranger on the subway. (Sorry if that's anticlimactic.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Resuming Howards End, which I started a couple years ago, right away I come across some passages that seem to relate uncannily to my life at the moment. Maybe I'm too eager to see myself in any book I happen to be reading, but this still stands out....

Looking back on the past six months, Margaret realized the chaotic nature of our daily life, and its difference from the orderly sequence that has been fabricated by historians. Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere. With infinite effort we nerve ourselves for a crisis that never comes. The most successful career must show a waste of strength that might have removed mountains, and the most unsuccessful is not that of the man who is taken unprepared, but of him who has prepared and is never taken. On a tragedy of that kind our national morality is duly silent. It assumes that preparation against danger is in itself a good, and that men, like nations, are the better for staggering through life fully armed. The tragedy of preparedness has scarcely been handled, save by the Greeks. Life is indeed dangerous, but not in the way morality would have us believe. It is indeed unmanageable, but the essence of it is not a battle. It is unmanageable because it is a romance, and its essence is romantic beauty. 
Margaret hoped that for the future she would be less cautious, not more cautious, than she had been in the past.

A few pages later (dialogue beginning with Margaret):

"...I believe that in the last century men have developed the desire for work, and they must not starve it. It's a new desire. It goes with a great deal that's bad, but in itself it's good, and I hope that for women, too, 'not to work' will soon become as shocking as 'not to be married' was a hundred years ago."  
"I have no experience of this profound desire to which you allude," enunciated Tibby.  
"Then we'll leave the subject till you do. I'm not going to rattle you round. Take your time. Only do think over the lives of the men you like most, and see how they've arranged them."  
"I like Guy and Mr. Vyse most," said Tibby faintly, and leant so far back in his chair that he extended in a horizontal line from knees to throat. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Forgot to mention this on here, but a few months ago I made a foray into art modeling, and you can see the result here. (You can only see my knees, arms, and face, but it might still be NSFW.) It's a portrait of Lux Alptraum, CEO of Fleshbot. Since this was so far outside my normal realm of experience, I had no idea how nervous I would be when the time came to undress in front of total strangers. Turns out I wasn’t nervous in the slightest, and had a really fun time.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mitfords and more

A couple months ago I bought the above book on impulse, having never heard of the author or her family. It was so good I immediately wanted to learn more, so I read this:

I read the above book in 20 days. It's over 500 pages long. This pace is completely unheard of for me. I couldn't get enough, so before I even finished the above I started on Nancy's books, the two that made her a literary star:

I'm in the middle of Love in a Cold Climate, which is a sequel to The Pursuit of Love. Very funny and enjoyable. All this British stuff made me want more British stuff, so I Netflixed the classic Brideshead Revisited miniseries. It's one of the best miniseries I've ever seen. Very beautiful and sad. I haven't read Waugh but now I want to read all of him. He was a friend of Nancy's and also makes a brief appearance in Jessica's memoir.

This is a good year for living in the past. I would like to live there mentally for this year if you don't mind. Maybe I'll continue doing so next year. I'm not concerned with the future though. The future is full of news and nothing but. That's how it feels to me when I think of it anyway. Other people can worry about the news. Worrying about the news would not be healthy or productive for me, so this is what I'll do: I'll read about the past and learn things, and this way I will feel fine about not paying too much attention to present reality. I think this is a good plan. I've really gotten more into reading in recent months. Nonfiction, which I never used to read much of, has proven especially satisfying. I finish nonfiction books much faster than novels. It's interesting to think about why. "Real events" seem more urgent, I guess. You want to know what happens next because it doesn't just happen next, it actually happened next! Anyway, if you'd like to follow my lead, why not start with the very books I've mentioned? Can't hurt, I promise.

Monday, March 5, 2012

My job search, an example

Here is an ad for the kind of job I would like. Whenever I find an ad for a job I might want to do, this is what happens. I read the description and say, that looks like fun. Then I read the Requirements and see how obvious it is that I will never get that job. For example:

On Figure Photographer, a leading online merchant offering top designer and name brand apparel and accessories at significant discounts, is looking for an On Figure Photographer to join our Production team. This position will report to the Director of Production / Photography Operations.
Responsibilities include:
  • Photograph Men’s & Women’s apparel on model in a fully-digital production environment for Bluefly’s online catalog, maintaining the quality and consistency of the Bluefly brand.
  • Team with others in Production to insure product is organized and efficiently moved through the production process, ensuring that the number of products photographed meets the needs of the business.
  • Work hours for this position will be weekdays and could include some nights and weekends.
Skills required:
  • BA Degree
  • 3-5 years of on figure photography experience
  • The ability to work with Photo Producer and Art Director to reach needed shot count
  • Similar consumer products experience a plus.
  • Must be up to date with current digital photography technology, have strong studio lighting skills and model direction.
  • Experience shooting with digital cameras tethered.
  • Knowledge of Mac applications including Photoshop, OS X, RAW file conversion, Capture One and basic photo editing skills.
  • Excellent communication, verbal, written, and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to work in fast-paced and growing environment.
In addition to providing a dynamic, highly motivated environment, Bluefly offers its employees: Competitive salary, health and dental benefits, 401K, commuter/parking benefits and an employee discount.
Bluefly is an equal opportunity employer.

Now, let me tell you how my qualifications compare with the above, item for item:

  • BA Degree
  • 0 years of on figure photography experience. This is the first time I've even heard the term "on figure".
  • The ability to work with Photo Producer and Art Director to reach needed shot count. (I guess. This is pretty vague.)
  • No consumer products experience.
  • Am not up to date with current digital photography technology, do not have any studio lighting skills and model direction.
  • No experience shooting with digital cameras tethered. What the hell is a tethered camera anyway?
  • No knowledge of Photoshop, RAW file conversion, Capture One and who knows what you even mean by "basic" photo editing skills.
  • Mediocre communication, verbal, written, and interpersonal skills.
  • Very little ability to work in fast-paced environment.

Well, would you hire me?