Thursday, July 31, 2008

Boob Tube

Right now, had things gone differently, I'd be drinking in a pub with my lovely Muslim ladyfriend and Gay Paul and, perchance, a host of others. But I'd been blown out this morning when LMLF announced that she'd forgotten something vital she had to do tonight and, well, that was pretty much that.

Truth be told, I don't really mind. The fact is that due to thinking I'd be out tonight, I'd not cycled to work today, which meant I got the tube to work. It's terribly exciting getting public transport on delayed trains with a vast swathe of humanity when I normally sweat cobs pedalling myself towards town and spending my day with nought but other men once I get there. The tube, you see, is full of women, and that's really, really, really good.

I know - not out of prior knowledge but from a well-honed sense of male intuition - that all men love the summer, because they know that women bloom at this time of year, appearing out of a winter's hibernation with their breasts and their long silky legs and their generic loveliness wrapped up in a tight white blouse and little skirt. A tube train mid-Jan seems like a harsh unforgiving place; one attractive woman will stand out a mile as there seems so few of them. But it's a different story in the summer. It's as if all women have decided to become gorgeous and roam the streets and catch the tube and frankly, it makes me cry a bit.

Now, I have long maintained that regular users of the London Underground will never see the same person twice. That said, I'm not a morning person and I don't actually have a schedule to synchronise with anyone else. But in the main, the large gathering of miserable bastards on platforms that I shuffle past on those tube days seem as different and as new as if I was in Sweden for the first time again.

Apart from this one girl.

There's a lady who I've spotted from time to time as she always sits in the last carriage of the second train I get. We get the same carriage as we alight at the same stop and it's this rear carriage that's nearest the exit. My heart leapt a little when I spotted her this morning - for the first time in ages - and tried as surreptitiously as I could to remain interested in Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down when I was instead looking for an excuse to look at her. I did this by looking up to scour the tube map, then casually, just-so-happens, turning to check her out on the way back to my book. She's lovely; a sensual little pixie and very slightly orange, which is a bit tragic but not orange enough to dissuade me. She's got the white blouse and black skirt thing going on, sculpted, firm curves, and a face like a terrier - I mean that as a compliment. I grew up in a house full of lots of small dogs and every so often I'd get the urge to grab one of the cute little buggers and hug the fucking life out of it. (As if you didn't need reminding, it's exactly this kind of thinking that explains why I don't get laid.) To put that more politely, she's got a cute face, the kind of face I want to squeeze the cheeks of and smother in playful kisses until I remember that she's not a dog and I want to lock her delicate pink lips with mine and ideally sleep with the rest of her. (And get to know her on a deeper level, blah blah blah.)

So anyway, I was in Boots a few weeks ago. I think I was buying contact lens solution or staring at condoms and wondering just what kind of person buys them, when I spotted tubelady in there. I wasn't sure it was her at first, so I kinda craned my neck until she spotted me. I couldn't be sure exactly, but she seemed momentarily flustered. Then she flicked her hair and looked back at me. I think there was a smile.

Now I'm not Mr Body Language, but that was a Good Thing, wasn't it?

Needless to say, I paid for whatever skin disease cream I was buying and didn't approach her on the way out of the store. To be perfectly honest, I was scared. I felt myself tense. I knew this was a beautiful moment and if I dared act on it and approached a complete stranger with the magic words, 'Hey, don't I get the tube with you??' followed by, 'Erm...', ultimately I'd walk away wishing I could have back the hair and smile fluster moment and left it at that.
So I hedged my bets and legged it before I opened my mouth.

Ever since, whenever I've I put myself on the morning tube instead of biking in, I get a little bit excited. Except I hadn't seen her since.

Until this morning.

Tubelady got on at non-specific London station and I studied her for clues. Would she spot me? Where would she stand? Why are these situations so numbingly painful? She seemed engrossed in texting someone on her mobile phone though, someone probably male and more appropriately dark-haired and meatheaded. I gave her as many brief looks as I could muster until she spotted me, whereupon she stared back then looked away, although in truth, it could've been me that looked away. I can't remember. In those rare two or three occasions where women have stared back in earnest, that's when I really panic; after all, that's a whole new level. What the fuck do you do then? Staring casually, I can do, and not for so long that it becomes creepy. Checking someone out is all about moderation, IMHO. Striking up a conversation in public with a complete stranger, though? Who the fuck do you think I am? Jack Nicholson?

I once tried cracking a smile at a lady who'd been staring at me, but it came out all wrong. I grimaced like a baby with trapped wind and I wasn't looked at again after that. Better to remain intense and broody I reckon, and ultimately scare them a little. Sorry, but that is all I can offer. I can't do the smile thing. It doesn't feel right.

I'm just grateful I don't make a habit of getting the tube every day. While it remains a novelty, all I'll ever notice are the carriages of beautiful women, or Indian lads reading the sports pages, or middle-aged Polish women with bags full of crap, and then back to the gorgeous women.

If I did make a habit of it, then I'll start to realise that it doesn't matter how many beautiful women I'm surrounded by, or if I'm directly facing Tubelady in an empty carriage. It won't take long for me to realise the tragedy I'm in; of not being able to say or do anything.


Z said...

I think I'll take the bus.

Trixie said...

I know what you mean. I would never have the guts to say something to a guy I fancied on the tube, I would expect him to.

But then if he did, I think he was weird, cause, you know the rules, you aren't supposed to talk on the tube!

Trixie said...

Oooo! Z and I make a FACE together! lol!

Anonymous said...

really hard to start a conversation on public transport... does she read? having the same book is a starter that doesn't make you look like a nutter. but only as you exit the tube or something so there's not that awkward silence if she doesn't respond...

fuck. it'd be easier if we just had lights on our head like taxi cabs - on-duty or off-duty.

Anonymous said...

Dare ya!

Dom said...

Ah, yes. The Fear. I don't talk to people I like unless I'm introduced because when the crushing rebuttal comes I can at least pretend it was a misunderstanding and I wasn't after them.

Dandelion said...

Oh god, this is awful. I never know what to do either. You do the eye contact, and then what? I usually do a smile and then I'm so happy/embarrassed that I can't stop smiling, so I have to look away, even if it means turning my head through 180 degrees. Then they think I don't like them. It's awful.

Next time, you should try a passing, non-threatening hello. Since you've seen eachother before and all.

ooh, ps I thought I saw you on the tube the other day.

Dandelion said...

fweng, d'you know what? you've inspired me. next time it happens, I'm going to say something. I'm going to say "ok, I'm going to say something". And then when they ask what, i will tell a knock knock joke. That will break the ice. Maybe you should try it too.

Teeny said...

I don't know the tube rules cause I live in Edinburgh but if you ask me, a wee smile goes a long way. She probably knows you're checking her out but is also too shy to say anything. If she smiles back, then you get to be on nodding terms, then from there it's just a hop, skip and jump to a full blown conversation (and COMPLETE panic)...

Anonymous said...

Rules on the Tube? Rules-schmules. I say do whatever you want. Though, it is like I said in my blog recently about not making eye contact with people too much unless you want to make a complete fool of yourself. When I was in London I wasn't exactly sure of the protocol, so I just watched to see what everyone else would do. From what I observed, talking and or making too much eye contact was a bit frowned upon. Isn't it like that in any large city?

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

I once got asked out by a bloke who was on the same carriage as me. He followed me up the escalater then approached me as we left the station. I'd actually hung back a bit because I was worried he was going to be a weirdo.

He was perfectly normal, not bad looking, and asked if I wanted to go for a coffee. I had a boyfriend and said no.

In all honesty, I probably would have said no anyway. It's all a bit random for me.

If you do ever talk to the girl, don't tell her she looks like a terrier. Please.

Digressica said...

"Who the fuck do you think I am? Jack Nicholson?" <---- best thing I've read all day.

I think you should talk to her. Sounds like the beginning of a terrible 90s romcom starring at least Meg Ryan and possibly even Tom Hanks.

Or - OOH! Try this! Stand near her some time, and just as the train's coming to a stop let go of whatever you're hanging onto so that you 'accidentally' knock into her, then say in a very English way "Oh gosh, I'm terribly sorry, are you alright? I feel like such a cad." Then because you feel just SO awful, you have the perfect opening to say, "let me make it up to you some time - can I take you out for dinner?", and she'll realise you were just trying to pull but she won't be able to stop herself from being utterly, helplessly charmed by you.

We totally dig that Hugh Granty kind of crap.

(I don't really know if this whole retarded scenario I've just made up is going to work. Think you should try it anyway.)

looby said...

Tbe problem is that it's so public. The whole place would go silent as they watched you make your move.

Fully sympathises with that feeling of paralysis.

luna said...

Well you'll just have to stalk the aisles in boots until Fate gives you a second helping.
Make sure you're grabbing some musclerub gel (or discreet deodorant) not athlete's foot cream:they're not for athletes btw.

Clarissa said...

I like the face Z and Trixie make!

A friend of mine, skilled in the art of staring "with meaning" and subsequently pulling once had intense eye contact with a girl from Waterloo to Westminster. When he alighted at Westminster, he sighed. "I just fell in love, got married, and filed for divorce."

A lot is possible on the tube.

Tom Fun said...

Congratulations, you are a stalker.

fwengebola said...

Z ~ Oh, charming.
Trixie ~ So basically, you advocate doing nothing either way. Just as well, really, 'cos that's what I'm doing.
Trixie ~ Oh yes, I see what you mean.
Df ~ Uh - no. I gave it some thought and I simply can't say anything. I much prefer your on-off duty idea. Now make it happen.
Anon ~ No.
Dom ~ You'd think we'd get used to the crushing rebuttal after a while, wouldn't you?
Dand ~ But I can't manage the smile. I would look creepy.
Where do you think you saw me?
Dand #2 ~ Have you any idea how many people will watch you go through with that?
Teeny ~ Hello, and welcome. I like the idea that she's too shy to say anything back. I'd argue that she might be pleased I don't say anything.
JB ~ Hello and welcome too. I don't think it's frowned upon per ce, it's just considered rude. Unlike in India where you stare at each other for, like, an hour. Very odd.
PDEWYMO ~ Woah, that is random. And no matter how flattering it is, you'd be having coffee with a bonefide 100% stranger, no matter how many stories he shared about how normal he is - because normal people don't do that, unless he was one of those manwhore types.
Dig ~ That might, might work if I did that in the States, but British women don't believe the buffoonish Hugh Grant gentleman schtick, mainly because they know enough British men to realise it's all bollocks.
Loob ~ They'd go silent, and I'd go increasingly more red. It's horrifying to think that the deaf would be able to watch me and know I was crashing and burning.
Luna ~ You've no idea how many times I've been to Boots since.
Clar ~ I'm impressed he got that far. Generally, I can fall in love, get coldly rebuffed and lie awake staring at the ceiling for weeks on end in the space of a ten minute tube journey.
TF ~ Well thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Actually you have a very attractive smile... it may be your best feature. Stop being such a twit.

Oh, was that helpful? Probably not.

fwengebola said...

No, but it gave me hope, thank you.
Wait, that means it was helpful. Cheers.

Dandelion said...

On the tube!

fwengebola said...

Yes, what tube, i.e, line exactly? I need to be sure that you've not seen some bloke who vaguely looks like a German tennis player and you've put two and two together and come up with funf.

luna said...

get a job there

fwengebola said...