I don’t notice men, I’m too busy fawning over women. Women are amazing – their hips and legs and hair. Knowing eyes and wry smiles. Androgynous women, large women, ‘just got back from India’ women. I like shyly confident women, with a comforting bosom and a knowledge of Carlton in the 90’s. Women with sinewy arms, not from yoga, but from repairing fences. Or shearing. (Though I can’t really pick that when they walk past me.) But men are just trousers, and narrow feet. They’re indistinguishable – great lumps, blocking my view of women. If you were to ask me my favourite feature of a man I would offer ‘the area between his belly button and his penis’. Yes it’s his navel, but it’s not as descriptive. I don’t find this to be on show all that often. (Actually, if you frequented Laverton Station in the 90’s, you saw it a lot.) Mise-en-scene is important to me. I’m the Mike Leigh of the dating world. I need a backstory. I need something to feed my imagination, before I can tell if I like it. Then I want to know everything. The insecurities and the frailties. The meanness in the voice as it’s cracking. I just want to get to the end. No alarms and no surprises.
Before I met the man who was to become my partner of sixteen years, I knew his backstory perfectly. I could not have concocted it any better – mental illness, divorce, death, and a small blonde child awaiting my complete lack of cooking ability. A kind and hard-working man, a fan of Russian novels and punk bands. Fiercely independent. An introvert to my extrovert. I was giddy with anticipation. We roamed my beloved city on a Saturday night; encountered sleazy alcoholics at Young and Jacksons, Irish backpackers welcomed by very accommodating Australians, and an African club that played some very questionable early 90’s R&B. It was perfect. At that time I had polished my ‘Poor Cow meets brothel madam’ look, which he took well. Men from the suburbs were great. They still found tits and hair alluring. They were not conned by jeans and flannelette shirts. Tentative misogynists. Gentlemen with panel vans.
I became the dominant one that night, pressuring him to do some ungodly white boy dancing – all the while thinking of stolen kisses in the back of taxis. I transformed my excitable grubby self into someone poised. It was a memorable four and half minute pretence.