Have you ever had the experience where, knowing you are not supposed to look someplace makes you look there obsessively more frequently? I am confessing to that infraction today: “Multiple Voyeurism.” Be yourselves duly forewarned that just reading this opens you to charges of accessory to voyeurism “Once Removed.” So “Caveat read-or.”
Okay. Deep breath.
THE WRITER INHALES DEEPLY, THEN GRADUALLY EXHALES.
All right. I’m ready.
I am not entirely proud of this, though I did nothing deliberate; I just looked on from a distance and it happened. But truth be told, the unfolding narrative before me was truly mesmerizing to behold. And Lord help me, I was too weak in character to look away. Plus, it was something to write about, which, for a writer, exonerates everything.
I’d like to believe.
We are visiting Austin, feasting on, as described yesterday, upscale, “Nouvelle Southern” cuisine. I order a poached carrot salad and the fish – “Tilefish”, which I never heard of before. (Note: I am generally averse to ordering seafood in a place whose nearest body of water is a man-made lake, fearing, at least subliminally, man-made seafood. Or at best, a fish that had a longer trip to the dinner table that I did. As it turned out, it was wonderful, the dish’s prohibitive price tag suggesting my main course had been flown in on a private jet, in a personalized fish tank.)
During a lull in our dinnertime chitchat – after thirty-five years of marriage there are few topics of conversation that have not been thoroughly hashed over – an attractive couple, early to mid-thirties, is ushered to a nearby table, Yuppie-casually attired and looking youthfully fit.
Little did I know a Three-Act play had just been seated beside us.
They order individual cocktails (Dr. M and I shared one) and the man, a take-charge restaurant smoothie, selects the appetizers, his female companion acquiescently in sync. They seem naturally comfortable together. No wedding rings, so it is seemingly a date. Although hardly a first date.
I glance down at her feet – don’t ask me why, not because I am ashamed but because I have no conceivable explanation. There, resting under the table, I discover a pair of canary-yellow shoes, with stiletto, I don’t know, three or four-inch heels. (It’s not like I went, “Excuse me. How big are those heels? I plan to write about them later.”) They looked like really high heels. Of indeterminate extension.
Directly above the shoes are these patterned, limoney-green… stockings, socks, tights – I don’t know where they stopped, I just noticed the bottoms. From the ankles on down, she was sartorially impressive.
That was, like, Act One – “The Introduction.” With appetizers. I then look away, to chat with my spousal companion or maybe dig into my salad. For whatever reason, my attention to the proximate couple is momentarily diverted. More than momentarily. There are minutes where I pay no attention to them at all.
I feel a powerful nudge to revisit the footwear,
And here comes Act Two.
While I was occupied elsewhere, the woman’s pedal positioning had radically altered. When I turn back, her left foot is wedged insinuatingly between her companion’s elegant loafers, with no imminent plans it looks to me for moving away.
There was nothing overtly sexy about this maneuver; I mean, it could imaginably have been worse. Still, my instinctive reaction was that I shouldn’t have been looking, and because I believed that I shouldn’t have been looking, I looked longer, and more frequently, my mind aflame with,
“Look what she’s doing in a restaurant!”
Finally I turn determinedly away, addled by their wanton display of personal intimacy. (Without the judgment that “wanton display of personal intimacy” generally implies. Hey, live and let live, is what I say. Not often, but I say it.)
I do not look back for some time. Oh, maybe a couple of times, to see if anything had changed, and it hadn’t, except that the male companion had ordered another cocktail, the pedal entanglement apparently making the man thirsty. Or need external buttressing. Or both. The palpable signals suggest, reading his mind without his permission, a sense of “clear sailing” for the remainder of the evening.
Having polished off my delectable Tilefish and its fish-egg accompanying garnishment, I curiously check back with the amorous neighbors.
Say “Hello” to Act Three.
And a surprising “twist in the narrative” it was.
I quickly see that the female dinner companion’s left foot has now resettled at “Home Base.” Her male companion’s feet, I notice – and here’s the surprising part – sit no longer in “neutral” position but are instead defiantly drawn back – way back – his defensive “Body Language” expressing a retroactive displeasure with the foregoing shenanigans and a demand that they promptly cease and desist forthwith.
Who saw that coming? I didn’t. Did you?
The young woman had made her move, and her erstwhile complicit consort
had unequivocally retreated.
What was this dramatic pas de quatre – the woman’s right feet serving merely as “observer” – really about?
Hey, I’m not the analyst. (And the dinner table inhabitant who is had been oblivious to the foot-featuring histrionics.) I have no idea of what had actually transpired.
Which did not deter me from enjoying a truly memorable experience.
It was like, “Dinner and a show.”
And I only paid for the dinner.