I can't resist going to the Department Store for Those Who Spend Too Much on Preppy Clothes. I'm sort of, kinda part of their clientèle: I come in regularly and spend too much. On the other hand, I'm single, not a yuppie and don't come in my work suit. I would dearly love to upgrade to the Store For Those Who Care Too Much About Brands, but sanity still has a tenuous grip on me, I'd like to think. So after surpassing one of those typical minor hurdles in life I tend to treat myself, even though I get the impression their staff doesn't much like the look of me. Way too wannabe metro, but too lazy to pull it off. Or something.
So I pick up my pair of overpriced, ridiculously expensive and plain waste-of-money-at-19%-VAT Diesel jeans after much deliberation ("you know you will!"). And then, just as I want to pay and leave this wallet-sucking nirvana, I see him. Perfection.
And boy do I hate him. I don't fall in love here, I just meet the Unobtainable One, the yardstick by which I know I will measure others. Timing could not be worse.
His face is flawless, perfect. No room for criticism, which I will always find, believe me. Blond hair, perfectly cut, semi-short and gelled so that everything lines up exactly. Modelish, really. A tan, fake as a three-dollar bill but subtle. Not cheap, not overbearing, the way I would like to come back from a holiday in the sun but rarely do. Just adding the finishing touches to a perfect face. Emerald eyes, twinkling, stronger, more beautiful than mine, even though I consider them my main selling point. A ridiculous piercing, with a large diamond stud pinned to the flap of the ear that reaches to the ear canal, just shouting out: "don't doubt". And I don't. I see him mingle with his incredibly drab female colleague, and boy is he out.
As I'm sizing him up mentally (about 1.70, smaller than me, bloody store uniform not tight enough to check out the bod), I feel hugely inadequate. I was wearing the worst, floppy, ugly cheap football shirt ("Italia") I have because I was running late. The dentist I had been to had left horrid pinkish goo on my teeth. I was sweaty and wearing cheap-o ersatz deodorant, discounter fragrance as I had run out of my usual stuff. No cologne, because I did not want to get too flirty with the dentist's pretty assistant.
As I wait for Perfection and Drab Colleague to decide who will login to the till, paranoia hits. Hard, like watching Requiem to a Dream on hashish.
I must smell like a grizzly, look like Hannibal after having an old friend for dinner.
He's just a cashier, and you've got two degrees!
It just doesn't count in this arena.
Perfection gets to login to the till, they decide. At the other side of the double till, a quality yuppie had lined up to pay for his Ralph. Perfection has to choose: the freak with the blinding shirt or Fitted Suit. After a second of deliberation, he sashays, he defines the word really, over to me and starts logging in. Perfection is a wee bit effeminate, I suppose.
A choice I would never have made. I wonder what vibe I was giving off. I sense he can read my inner thoughts, understands what's going on. Members of the tribe first? Some sort of homo solidarity?
I don't want to be a pushover in the face of such beauty. So I give him my hard schoolyard stare. I'm good at that one. He folds my purchase over, wraps it in a plastic bag. Movements that are so gay, yet so attractive on him. With a decidedly neutral face (another classic of mine), I pay, thank him and leave.
I'm still wondering: what if I meet this kid in a club, armed with clean teeth, liquid strength, Hugo Boss and a shield of indifference?