Ring Side View

I remember a conversation some time ago where someone asked me, “But can’t you make out they are pr*&titutes?”. I said, “No. Not inside the club, I can’t” and he said “I can’t believe you can’t  figure it out. Not even from the way they were dressed?’ and I remembered a line from Maya Angelou that went something like “The fashion of the time is always set by the loose women.” 

Tonight I’m sitting at a coffee shop with what is obviously a ring side view of the action.  This balding middle-aged white guy walked in with a girl about half an hour ago and sat down at the table ahead of me. I didn’t notice when the old lady and her granddaughter who were playing cards at the table left, but looked up when these two walked in. They looked so odd together. Him, wrinkled and balding, standing out only for his white foreignness and she looked so young. I’ve still not learned how to tell age here. The thin, small-boned structure gives everyone a vulnerable teenage look.

He left her at the table to order for the two of them and the girl pulled out a box with a new cell phone and began examining its contents. Five minutes later, he was back and it soon became obvious that these were strangers who were searching for things to say to each other. A glass pane separated us, so I can’t listen to the conversation but I’ve got a great view and realise how much can be read in the mime.   They begin sipping their drinks and the far in between sentences always end in a tentative touch. But they are running out of conversation and the man picks up a magazine and the girl goes back to the phone. She points the camera at him and says ‘Smile’. He looks up, face freezes, his palm comes up and he begins to shake his head. The girl’s face hardens slightly and she says “Why?”. He brings his palm down, she clicks and then turns the phone to him to get approval of her effort. Fiddling with the phone is now a joint effort that presents several opportunities for finger brushing, nose tugging and once, when the gentleman concerned was making a particularly forceful point, holding the girls jaw in his hand and stroking cheek.

All of this lasted about 15 minutes with one or two more photographs. The phone was put away. The magazine was picked up and the girl rose, adjusting her clothing. Her denim skirt was just a little shorter than the dress that I’d seen this CRO wear to a meeting last week. They walked out. Her first and him hanging back, walking slower, looking for all the world like he was by himself, catching up with her at the last minute as she opened the door and looked back.

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