Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Easy There, Tiger

I once didn’t date this guy who was smart, funny, had nice eyes - kind of like an Indian Paul Rudd but unquestionably straight - and who appreciated women of all shapes and sizes – Padma Lakshmi, Nigella Lawson, Lisa Ray, this girl on Twitter, the Zara sales attendant, my best friend.

At first, being the emotionally evolved, 21st century girl that I most definitely, without fail, am, I flattered myself I’d made it comfortable for him to discuss other women with me. It was natural, after all, wasn’t it? I too feel certain stirrings every time I see Daniel Craig in high def, emerging from the sea like Poseidon in a wee bathing suit. And according to the roughly ten thousand gender theses out there, acknowledging freely that you both will likely find other people hot at one time or another is the hallmark of a successful postmodern relationship. Capital, I thought, and didn’t date him some more.

A coterie of my girlfriends, assembled over mint juleps, roundly decreed that I had dodged a bullet with that particular one. However, what the precise rules were for this sort of situation elicited less of a consensus. “It would depend on just how many cute bums he was noticing, and whose,” said one. “And exactly where does my bum figure in all of this” said another. “All this healthy expression stuff gets on my nerves,” a third one said, violently up-ending her glass. “Write it in a bloody diary and shut up about it.” We all nodded.

A mother of a hangover later, a few thoughts still niggled. Had I been too sensitive? All he’d really done was been honest, too honest even. Wait a minute, I thought, suddenly cross, should I be grateful that he had ‘liked’ my friend’s rather saucy picture on Facebook, in plain view of me and everybody on our collective
lists? This time I called up the boy brigade for some answers.

Why are all of you such pigs? I asked conversationally. And wasn’t Indian Paul Rudd’s behaviour inexcusable? No sweeping wave of sympathy or cries of 'down with him!'’ here. “It depends,” said one carefully. “Truth is we’re noticing hot women all the time, whether we tell you about it or not. Women do it too, we’re not stupid. Total disclosure is not necessary, but it’s nice to be able to say it out loud once in a way. “Equal opportunity leering,” another said. “If I can ogle, she can too. And vice versa.” “And anyone we both know and are likely to meet often is off limits, so no complimenting her cousin’s dĂ©colletage,” he added. “I don’t care for Paul Rudd,” finally said the one who’d been silent all this while. "Night at the Museum was awful.”

I thought about this (ate fries) - the men and women were more or less agreed on how a situation like this should play out. Rapport was important, but tact more so. And 100 percent disclosure was more often than not, bloody stupi… my eyes swung back a line. Did I just say men and women had agreed on something? They had arrived at the same conclusion all on their own? Had I just orchestrated a rare moment of harmony in the otherwise knotty fabric that is interplay of the sexes? Would Harper Collins see it that way? I said a silent prayer to Paul Rudd. 

A version of this piece appeared in Grazia India.

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