Friday, June 16, 2006

A Fly on the Wall

Last Friday, following two weeks of Strep Throat passed between us, Sajid and I decided to go out and enjoy our renewed health. Our place of choice was Molly Magee's in Mountain View, a supposed pub that has no pub-like qualities--it's a bit loud and clubby for that, but they have a nice patio out back, so we like to go there.

As a sidenote, I want to mention that I love going out for drinks with my husband. It's a great feeling to be able to sit and have a beer with him and people-watch as various men and women try to hook up with one another, knowing all the while that we will go home in the same car, wake up in the same bed, and spend the rest of the days together. I never liked bars all that much before, but the feeling of going with him is totally different.

Anyway, sometimes Molly Magee's is filled with mellow people having mellow times, and sometimes Meat Market is the only accurate description for it. On those meaty nights, I find myself caught in awkward, middle school dance mode during brief moments when I'm alone--usually if Sajid is at the bar getting our drinks. I learned quickly that it is not a great idea to make eye contact, because that can be followed by instant, unwanted actual contact with a likely drunk man who then makes his own awkward middle school escape when I mention that I'm waiting for my husband to return. I guess it's somewhat rare--a husband and wife out at a bar together on a Friday night...well, this bar anyway. So during those moments, I take remarkable interest in things like lighting fixtures, the legs of bar stools, and the lone T.V. playing some sporting event that I can neither hear nor see very well.

Last Friday, I had a fascinatingly strange experience. When we arrived there and Sajid went to get drinks, I went to sit down and wait for him to join me. As I passed by a group of three men, I noticed they noticed me, and then I heard this from one of them: "She's cute," followed by this response from an incredulous other, "You think so?!"

Whoah. I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to hear that. And I'm definitely sure I wasn't supposed to hear what followed. I guess these men were just drunk enough, or the place just loud enough, that they didn't realize I could hear everything they were saying. And I just looked away as I could see them all looking at me out of the corner of my eye.

What followed was a full-on debate attempting to answer the question brought forth by the first man: the question of my attractiveness (or not). I listened with interest as he made a case for me. And I listened with more interest to the case made against me. 'Yeah, I guess that's true,' I thought in answer to the first. 'Yeah, that's true too,' I thought, in answer to the second.

The first guy made a good argument on my behalf (thank you anonymous drunken man), and their willingness to continue this debate was surprising to me. Ultimately, though, I lost to this statement from guy #2: "Well, I guess my standards are higher what with all these gorgeous hotties around."


As strange as that was to take in, this was a dream come true. How many times did I wish I could be an invisible witness to whatever Jeremy Denny had to say about me when I was in the midst of my 5th grade crush on him?! (I came to realize eventually that he had likely never said anything about me; that came painfully clear when we took a field trip to the local roller rink and he skated with Crystal Moline during the couples skate--they were a blonde-haired, blue-eyed match made in heaven.)

But this was really happening...I was, finally and absolutely, a fly on the wall. Two things made this experience less gratifying than I imagined it would be. The first is that I didn't know these men and knew they didn't know me beyond a quick visual judgement made in a bar. And when I did finally sneak a peek at them, I had the somewhat cruel, yes defensive, but honest thought that these men didn't strike me as the type that had, just, you know, the whole world of women available to them for their choosing. It brought to mind a line from the movie "Say Anything":

John Cusack (as Lloyd Dobbler): "So if you guys know so much about women, what are you doing at like the Gas-n-Sip at 3 o'clock in the morning with no women anywhere in sight?"

Something like that.

But the second and more important reason the invisible eavesdropping experiment was a bust is that how could I care what these men had to say about me when I was just about to be joined at that table by the most wonderful man I have ever known?

It felt good when Sajid got there, when I told him what was going on and we laughed at the goofiness of the situation. When I looked him in the eyes and felt my love for him, his love for me. It felt like absolute redemption. Like the permanent erasure of all those awkward middle school moments, the awkward high school ones that followed, and all those between high school and that moment, there at that bar, being sized-up by three unknown men whose opinions I did not and would never care about.

When the men became aware of my company, they turned their attention elsewhere, seeking another woman to discuss and dissect, make cases for and against. And I put my hand in Sajid's, took a sip from my beer, and was thankful for all the meat markets in which I'll never be consumer nor goods.

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