The Mating Dance
An amusing day at the Art Gallery proved to be an interesting way for singles to search for a mate. My friend and I arrived at the Olsen Gallery in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. We planned this outing so we could see my school friend’s Artwork and mingle with the usual crowd of art enthusiasts.
The Art gallery doorway was teeming with guests arriving and already several were downing the welcome drinks. Eventually, we squeezed through and grabbed a wine on the way to the next room where my friend’s work was on display. Covering the white walls were a selection of large and small paintings of underwater nudes. The large ones almost made you feel like you were walking underwater in a large exotic aquarium while observing real-life nudes floating by. The paintings were absolutely breathtaking. I never realised how talented my friend Martine Emdur had become. I knew from school days she was different. She was one of those kids that were quieter, always had a warm knowing smile and was surrounded by friends. I first met her after moving to Bondi Beach when I was 14 years old. She was one of the few people at the beach to welcome me with a smile. I never forgot the day I saw Martine doing cartwheels in the Bondi Pavilion and on another day when she was painting a huge mural on the walls. At age 14, Martine was clearly talented and would make an impact in life.
Back to the Gallery day and the strange behaviour of males and females, especially single ones. We are but mere humans and like all living creatures on this earth, we must eventually find a mate. The usual practice to meet someone is either at a bar, dinner party, blind date or internet dating site, some even meet at the supermarket. I never realised you met them at Art Galleries.
The art crowd was a mixed bunch, intellectuals, art critics, friends and family. There was also the standard art gallery groupies or poor socialites that liked to be seen everywhere at minimal cost to themselves, especially if free alcohol was involved.
We eventually managed a quick hello to my friend Martine who was inundated with people complimenting her on her artwork. After a bit of chit-chat, we turned and almost walked into a group of men. They were an odd looking group. We assumed they were most likely single or gay. Lately, it appeared we were often magnets for unattached males that weren’t gay but struggling with their identities. Mind you it is difficult to tell if a man is gay in the eastern suburbs. The men that side of the Harbour Bridge usually dress in the latest fashion. The other popular look is bohemian surfer type that looks like he sleeps in his clothes and still has saltwater in his hair. I stood to the side trying to ignore them and admired one of the more intriguing nude paintings.
‘What does it make you feel?’ asked the tall skinny leader of the manpack.
I thought about it for a few seconds. ‘Hmm well, I do admire the artist’s knowledge of anatomy and structure of the human body. I also appreciate the use of light and shadow to define rather than using clear lines. Look at the sinew and muscle in the man’s hamstrings and even his gluteus maximus shows weight and a sense of great buoyancy.’
The skinny one’s eyes widened and blinked as he introduced himself as Chablieor. I had to ask him to repeat his name as I tend to be a tad poor hearing from one ear. He again mutters something that sounds like Chablioura.
‘Sorry, how do you spell that?’ He whips out his business card and it appears his name is Jabour. Oh dear, I sure got that all wrong. Maybe I was thinking too much about the next Chablis I required. It felt increasingly hot in that gallery room. This symptom I swear is not due to that menacing female condition called menopause. Think about this word MEN.O.PAUSE, this word must be a warning for men to pause, turn around then bolt off for safety. If they are a bit dim, then they should be prepared to be submitted to the presence of an irrational overheated maniac. But alas, I didn’t dare mention how damn hot it was in there. I just grinned and felt the beads of sweat threatening to spill down my forehead and my clothes began to stick to me like cling wrap. I glanced briefly around the room and didn’t see any windows at all just wall space and paintings. I wasn’t even sure there was an air con in the room. I reassured myself that it was just the crowd no other reason I could be this hot. I took a deep breath and continued to talk to the skinny one. ‘Is Jabour your real name or your stage name?’ He blinked a few times again. I was beginning to think he might have downed a few too many wines as well. It’s possible he wasn’t a person who was particularly quick in their mental processing.
‘No it’s my real name, my parents chose it.’ Jabour answers with a deadpan face.
‘Well at least they didn’t call you a fruit, It’s a nice name.’ I answered with a slight snigger. Jabour blinked rapidly. I could see it was going right over his head so I continued ‘You know a fruit or food item, like Apple, Custard. You know like Gwyneth’s kids?’ I paused for effect. Maybe her next child will be called Kale. Actually, when I think about it, Kale is a kind of cool name for a boy, do you agree?’ Finally, Jabour cracks and starts laughing.
I was relieved he had some sense of humour. I was beginning to think he was slightly slow. He thrusts his business card forward. It had photos of his work on one side. It appeared he made sculptures and abstract furniture out of melamine chipboard. Very unusual looking items that to me looked more like thrones of pain. I really couldn’t see myself languishing on one.
‘I like Jabour it does have a nice ring to it, I said. Are your parents European or of Arabic lineage?’
‘No they just came up with it.’ Jabour replied with a slight grin on his unshaven face. He looked like he could do with a good shower too.
I was disappointed he didn’t have some kind of interesting family background of how his parents immigrated from Poland with nothing but a back pack. I mused maybe he had a French mother and she escaped in the tunnels fighting with the resistance. Instead, I settled with the idea his parents were hippies from a bohemian commune. Possibly they harvested cannabis and in their euphoria of impending parenthood, decided on Jabour thinking it was a cool name. It could have been worse, they may have settled on Pumpkin, River or Zephra.
Jabour smiled and politely asked ‘So what about you, are you an artist and where do you live?’
‘Oh me? I live on the Northern Beaches but I grew up at Bondi and I’m not an artist, I laughed. ‘I am here because my friend from school is the artist and I haven’t seen her since I was 14.’ I could see him mentally trying to work out my age.
He couldn’t help himself. ‘How old are you?’
I showed dramatic mortification and replied ‘Oh really… Surely you know that you never ask a woman her age, how old do you think I am?’ I looked at his unshaven face and baby cheeks and noticed small tufts of fluff sprouting along his jawline.
‘Well, you could be around 26?’
‘Put at least 10 on that!’ I chirped. I wasn’t going to be truthful and say 20 years on that!
Jabour laughed as he asked ‘Are you on facebook, maybe we can connect and chat sometime? I would love to visit the Northern Beaches.’
At this point, it was starting to feel like a pickup. I looked around and saw Jabour’s friend chatting away to my friend Donna. Suddenly an odd looking older man with curly grey hair and spectacles hanging from his nose shuffles through the crowd in a beeline for me. He manages to break through the throng of our small group and thrusts a CD in my hand. I’m taken by surprise and my mouth gaped open like a fish about to be fed. He introduces himself. ‘Hi I’m Kevin, I’m a musician.’
‘Oh, I see.’ I replied with a laugh. ‘Thanks Kevin, Is this your music?’ I squinted at the CD cover as I tried to read the small print. Reading without glasses was beginning to be a challenge for me, the squint was such a giveaway so I gave up trying. I managed to read that it was titled Piano. Indian Tabla 12 String Guitar Flamenco. I realized it must be a compilation of drums, piano and Guitar with Indian influence possibly. Initially, due to my poor eyesight, I thought the front of the cover had a drawing of a Centaur; those of you that don’t know what that term is * half man half horse*. On further inspection, the figurine looked more to me like a deranged Baboon.
‘Hmm interesting sketch, is it a monkey then?’ Kevin nodded his in reply.
‘I heard that the symbolic meaning of a monkey deals with animated entertainment. They are often depicted as mischievous figures in myths and legends. Does this somehow relate to your music?’
Kevin started blinking rapidly and he was sweating profusely under his grey curls. Suddenly he muttered. ‘Gee you look like Goldie Hawn. Hey guys, it’s Goldie Hawn. Has anyone ever told you that?’
I almost said yes like a million times! Instead with a stupid blonde giggle, I replied ‘Well I wish I had her money!’
‘Are you on facebook?’ Kevin asked. I sighed to myself, maybe this is the latest way singles hook up or maybe I’m just feeling too old. I wasn’t expecting Facebook to be part of introductions or conversations at an Art gallery. Kevin rambled on while pointing to his car and insisting I email him my thoughts on his music. I smiled politely while robotically replying ‘Sure, I will check it out.’ I wondered why he didn’t have an opinion about the symbolic meaning of the monkey. Seriously, I thought art folk enjoyed in-depth conversations or maybe I was just some kind of try hard.
I gestured to my friend Donna with a jab of my head that I wanted to move to the next room. ‘Okay guys, have a lovely afternoon we are moving on to the other room. It was lovely to chat with you all, yeah Facebook… see you all there!’ I added with an exaggerated laugh.
We squeezed our way through the throng of art lovers. I could see Muso Kevin trying to follow us so we upped the ante to a stairway and scooted up to the next level. Now on this level, the room was sparsely filled with people gazing at Abstract artwork. The paintings were done using thickly textured strokes of oil on linen. One particular large painting was of Orchids and banana palms. It was truly outstanding. Due to my long sighted vision and standing too close, the colourful effect made me slightly nauseous and again I felt heat rising. I sat down in front of another large painting of the inside of a Paris transit station; this was equally impressive. Then out of the blue, a man saunters over. He is incredibly attractive with smouldering brown eyes, olive skin, short dark wavy hair. His clothes clung to him like a second skin. At white t-shirt hugged his bulging muscular shoulders and was tucked into well-fitting jeans that equally accentuated his rather strong looking thighs and buttocks. I drooled to myself while visions flashed into my mind of the male nude painting downstairs. Maybe it was the curve of the nude’s leg muscles. I felt sure this man could have been the muse. Oh dear the heat, the wine, the nudes, the European looking man now facing me and the huge abstract paintings surrounding me. I was feeling faint.
Hunk of man’s smouldering eyes flashed concern. ‘Would you like some vauter? said a voice that sounds like brushed velvet. ‘You look a little pale’ he said in his deep foreign accent.
‘Oh no thank you, I’m okay.’ I replied fanning my face furiously with the gallery list. Stupidly I jumped up a tad too enthusiastically and had to hold onto the table to steady myself.
‘See I’m fine really’. I grinned like a Cheshire cat that was about to have some cream. Hunk of man speaks and I felt my lips pout in automatic response to the sound of his voice.
‘Let me introduce myself, my name is Nicolin,’ he replied looking directly into my eyes. ‘These paintings are very interesting, no? ‘
I almost bit my tongue as I gagged on my first word. ‘Yes, indeed they are. I find the one with the Orchids and banana blossoms hard on the eyes if you stand too close. I prefer this one of the transit station. I like the composition of colour and strokes. What do you think?’ I replied trying to sound intelligent.
Sex on a stick replies ‘Yes I see what you mean, I think it is also my favourite.’ I could feel my heart pulsating, damn he was hot and it wasn’t just hot in the room. I repeated his name ‘Ah Nicolin? ‘Yes, that is correct’ he purrs. The words seem to roll out of his luscious mouth which also framed a perfect row of the whitest teeth. Holy Michael, I was feeling a bit faint looking at him. Thankfully due to the few people in the room, I could hear him well. I was relieved I didn’t sound like a deaf old hag asking him to repeat his name. Though I was almost tempted to ask him anyway just for the pure pleasure of hearing him repeat himself in that delicious accent.
‘Are you an Artist?’ Nicolin asked. ‘Me? oh no I laughed. Maybe I like to think I am an artist of sorts. I recently started writing. More like ramblings really. I write short poems, stories and travel articles. I’m not sure why I recently felt a need to start writing but it’s a bit of fun.’
‘Oh but you are a beautiful woman and must have lived an interesting life with many stories to tell?’ Nicolin replied. He stood resting his muscular hands on the wall giving me ample view of his glistening bicep. What a charmer he is, not like most Australian men at all. Aussie men usually just grunt and keep looking at the rugby and god forbid you dare ask them to go to an Art Gallery with you!
‘ Well Nicolin, I have lived a busy life raring two children for 16 years and after feeling like a mouse running on a wheel. I finally have a little time to myself which allowed some creativity to brew or at least make me believe so.’
‘I can understand that, now is your time to enjoy, is it not?’ Nicolin answered with that husky hunk of man voice.
I love how Europeans always encourage more conversation with a question and with hand gesturing. So I went along with some more small talk enjoying just the sound of his voice. He was quite a visual masterpiece outshining all the paintings.
‘So Nicolin where are you from, your name is it Russian, Greek, Italian?’ Michelangelo replies ‘Actually I am from Albania, but I am half Italian, half Albanian.’
I nod thinking, how lovely, I have never met an Albanian, also thinking where the hell is Albania? I remembered an article I read recently about Police burning 23 tons of Marijuana, (around 80,000 plants) in an Albanian Village. I remembered these details because I was wondering if the whole village and surrounds were then completely stoned! At least the Balkan rebels may have stopped their cowboy shootouts due to being stoned on a haze of burning cannabis. I’m also a little perplexed that I’m again thinking about cannabis and to be honest I have never even been a smoker. I tried it once when I was age 14 years old and nearly choked myself blue from lack of oxygen. The feel of razors in my throat was enough to turn me off it for life. Thankfully, I did not commence this train of thought vocally and just murmured ah nice. It still amazes me how in the presence of an extremely handsome man we can become tongue-tied and vague. I turned all blonde like and started staring in a trance-like state.
Nicolin the Balkan steps closer and says ‘So what are you doing after this?’
Stuttering I mumbled in a nervous rush ‘Well I’m with my friend over there; we haven’t eaten lunch yet. Yes, its 4.00pm so we are going to a pub to eat, possibly the one down the road. I knew I had told him too much information but he just made me act like a stupid school girl.
‘That’s a shame you are busy. I will maybe see you there later, no?’ Nicolin grins with a flash of white teeth and a look that could melt a prison warden.
‘Oh yes, that would be lovely.’ I dumbly turn and walk instantly to my friend. For some reason I didn’t want to get the Balkans number, he was just too handsome and I kept getting visions of drug lords in Albania and a movie scene from Scarface!
I think it was too much excitement for us girls at one exhibition. We both felt like we would internally combust with heat overload and were starving. We took off outside in search of fresh air and a Hotel to have dinner.
More happened, it was quite a night. We had a couple more wines then after doing a scan of the pub, we were convinced that nearly every man we saw was the spitting image of Gerald Butler, Daniel Craig or some other divine movie actor. Ok, we must have had a few too many drinks. Reality hit as one nerdy thin man named Edward was explaining his theory on why we thought some of the men looked like movie stars.
He explained it was a matter of Bilateral symmetry. Humans and other organisms have a strong evolutionary preference for the appearance of symmetry, and this means people who are considered attractive are often those who display a high degree of bilateral symmetry. A reduced ability to judge this symmetry brought on by the general visual impairment of alcohol might well account for the phenomenon that people seem more attractive when one is drunk. I moved on from Edward at this point because I was enjoying my illusion of my movie star look-alikes. If only he knew why women yawned when he tried to chat them up and he hadn’t even asked to be my facebook friend.
All in all, it was another fabulous single girl’s day out in the mating game of life!
Paintings by Martine Emdur