on attention and affection

Diving head-first back into the bracingly choppy ocean of self-absorption…

Two separate occurences this week struck home how pathetically grateful I am for attention.

A good part of yesterday was spent with my nephew, the best quality time we’ve had together for some time, possibly ever.  Next Friday we share a birthday, he’ll be three, I’ll be a bit older.  We’re having a joint party.  It will doubtless be wild.

With his Dad, my brother, we walked in the nearby woods, chased each other, climbed trees, pretended to be bears, hid, then later at home played with toys, read stories and watched Finding Nemo.  When we curled up on the sofa and watched the cartoon film together, his two-week old sister was gently given to him and I cradled them both on my lap feeling a bizarrely alien sense of multigenerational domesticity and close family.

That the child seemed to return this feeling, demanding play and cuddles before bed, seemingly unaided or persuaded by his parents, made me feel ridiculously warm and fuzzy – another sensation I’m not well acquainted with.

Earlier on this week I attended a trade show and its post-event themed party at a nearby bar.  It was dark, loud and packed tight; drinks flowed freely and plentiful finger food was distributed by waitresses who barely spoke English.  I was comfortable enough in not knowing anybody at this show, or even the sector it represented that well; used to unhinging, breaking and entering conversations from cold without appearing too much like a twat.

After a couple of such unfruitful businessy chats I turned to a table of food and a recently deserted sparkly young blonde who had been filming interviews throughout the day.  Clearly happy bathing in attention in front of the camera, a very girly girl, possibly a precious princess, she was ostensibly absolutely nothing which attracted me.  And yet, she was attractive and, I had to grudgingly admit, rather entertaining in her animated passion for her subject.  Fun.  Not the norm, but in a good way.  We chatted awhile, I kept expecting her to leave me and mingle, for her hyperactive neediness to want more – she was used to fraternising with flash successful model types, attending fashion shows.

I wasn’t that bothered anyway, I told myself, yet all the while being infected and brainwashed.  I realised I was reflecting her mannerisms and we were probably, yes, definitely, maybe, flirting.  Frequent touch, suggestive comments, playful banter, excessively deliberate sucking chocolate from her fingers, maintaining eye contact.  Crap, she was hot, and was she really interes-..?  No.  Impossible.  Likely just a dicktease used to ruffling sad saps like me.

Her cameraman left and she said she had to go soon, though she didn’t sound hugely committed about her next destination and it was still early.  We left the bar together and walked down the street a short distance.  I pointed her to the large, unmissable tube entrance she needed.  At the time I didn’t even consider feigning need of a tube journey.  “Will you be ok from here, dyou think?” I asked.  “Ooh, you might need to hold my hand,” she replied.  I smiled as she rose to offer her cheek, I kissed it, missing the proffered other, causing momentary awkwardness.  Two cheek kisses make me feel like a pretentious twat.  We chimed a couple of nice to meet yous, then I crossed the busy road towards the bus station.  Should I have tried harder?

She’ll fade as these temporary fixations always eventually do, but most of this week she’s been irritatingly difficult to rid from my brain.

And that’s largely to do with how ridiculously flattered I am by attention.  I don’t go out and seek it, have always shirked it or been made uncomfortable by it.  So when it suddenly finds me, I’m paralysed. A three year-old can sit on my lap, display apparently spontaneous affection and reduce me to soppy goo.  An attractive young lady can playfully bat her eyelashes, flirt, then take off, reducing me to the tragedy of teenage fluster.

It’s symptomatic of being serially alone and being acclimatised to that state.  You forget about attention and affection; what it is and how it feels; those popularly held and enjoyed notions of family and relationships which you haven’t necessarily shunned, but which just haven’t worked out.  You almost try to distance yourself from it in an attempt to feel less inadequate.  All that’s not for me.  I’ll just get a dog one day.

So attention is subsequently magnified and exaggerated, you’re pathetically grateful for sustained consideration, however much it clashes with the self image of a restless, wandering, invisible ghost.


One Response to on attention and affection

  1. Pingback: dim and distant | Boshsuckled

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