Look / Look away

Into the accountants’ the other day to hand in some forms. Pretty new receptionist caught me by surprise. We hit it off immediately — friendly, chatty, jokey — that level of office life just before flirty. We did various business with the forms. She bent down to do something on the computer. Like a snap of the fingers my eyes bounced down her blouse and back to see the frilly edge of her bra. All the forms were in order, so I bade my farewells and left. Only when closing the door behind me did I notice that those last few seconds she’d been decidedly chilly.

My eyes — no — I did it. I looked down her blouse. Was it just my eyes? Maybe I craned my neck. Was I wearing my glasses? Fishbowl eyeballs out on stalks.

It’s happened so many times. I much prefer the before to the after.

Habits. Expectations. Hardened patterns. Desire lines.

Perhaps the only way to break a habit/expectation is to create a new, stronger expectation. A new desire line, and let the old one grass over. Old demons never die, they just fade away.

If the stimulus is a sudden opportunity — quick grab it now! — the new response can’t be based on a morality or depend on working something out. It has to be a clear pattern I can just take down “off the shelf” and have it ready for triggering situations.

I think of the waiter or shop assistant who ostentatiously looks away when I tap in my credit card pin (before the days of contactless). It’s almost like a pantomime or a dance step. They do it so I can see — even out of the corner of my eye — that they are not looking at the keypad. It’s a similar friendly/flirty situation. I have waited and served (temp jobs for beer money while a student) so I know that side of it too.

The receptionist might appreciate it too — as long as I avoid the “see, I didn’t look down your blouse: aren’t I fantastic!?” — so we can keep the friendly atmosphere.

A quick glimpse of a bit of bra is a meagre trophy.

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