April 27, 2010

Time and A Place; or, Get A Room.

I am all for the romantic arts. ‘Courtship’, whenever that word gets wheeled out, seems unable to escape its epithet: ‘old-fashioned’. Since I care not for fashion, nor for passing fads, I think we ought to put period to this unfair appellation. The outward form of courtship may change with the times, but at its heart is a respectable romance and a foundation of politeness. It takes place in two settings, one public and one private. To observe a courtship in public is never to be outraged, never offended. The intentions of the lover are manifested subtly, through kindnesses and attentions. The responsiveness of the beloved is likewise demure, modest. The courtship is suggestive only insofar as eye contact, or the occasional kiss of the hand, lingers, barely perceptively, a little longer than it might otherwise. In private we may dispense with some of the formality, but to put too fine a point on it would be to undo it. It is private, after all.

I was sitting in my usual spot, working in the library. I have often thought that libraries are sexually charged places, but this has something to do with the impossibility of even verbal, let alone physical interaction. As I have said before, if one desires a frisson of excitement, it is to be found in restraint, in covering up, in patience. The mind must not be deprived of its imaginative work by feasts of the eye! Yet even the hushed halls of places of learning crumble against the pressure of an uncouth culture, beating its walls from within and without.

The Place Where I Sit. Almost.

Immediately to my right, with her back to me, a woman was working away. At first, I only noticed the ear plugs: sad testimony to the inevitable noise. Well, thought I, at least I won’t have any trouble from her. Until the man arrived. As she plucked out her earplugs, I noticed the rest of her, entirely clad in black, tight work-out gear. Her nether woman was barely covered, and in the gap between the top of her sweat pants and the bottom of her t-shirt (about ten inches), her rather skimpy underwear made an unwelcome appearance. She smiled a come-to-bed hello at this unexpected visitor, who kissed her on the mouth – somewhere between friendly and obscene. She pulled the pins out of her raven hair and shook like a wet dog in a shampoo ad. He sat beside her, much preening and many eyes being made. They then proceeded to ‘talk about work’, each with one hand pointing at respective computer screens; academic and intellectual interest being feigned. His other hand made a bid for her shoulder, thereafter sliding down her back and lingering on the aforementioned lingerie. Looping his fingers around the thong, he brushed her naked skin with his thumb.

Enough. Concentration cast to the wind, I simply exited the room. I cannot help feeling it should not have been me seeking alternative shelter. In their little bubble of loveliness, no doubt thrilling to them, was something ghastly. Time and a place, dear readers, time and a place.


  1. Doctor,

    you start out like you took to heart Jane Austen's kindly words; but then it all gets racy. A friendly word of advice: mock what you dislike, for when it seems ridiculous, it is no longer attractive. And indeed, that must be done, because there is too much animal attraction advertised left and right, but mostly left.

  2. To mock was of course the point. Sweat pants and shaggy dogs could hardly be anything else.

  3. Public displays are meant more to make their affections for one another known to those around them in a pride of their own romance (presuming that both people involved are already aware of their own feelings). The more sexual nature of the relationship is something only to be hinted at; something that detracts from the overall playful, affectionate innocence of the scene. If nothing else, something that can be inferred by the viewer.

    Unless, of course, it is an undertaking of sexual activity so urgent that it affords them no time to seek privacy, in which case they don't care what those around them think.


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