Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reportage: Outside 26 Berners Street

Around the doorway; around 4.40pm or so.

She has a chestnut bob, that's starting to look a bit ragged at the ends. She's wearing a short black dress, with a thin purple belt to draw attention to all the right bits. Her straps are thin enough to flaunt the mountain range that are her shoulders. She is resolute in dark tights and black covered-toe flats, despite the heat.

He is cooler than this. Lavender suede winkle pickers, or whatever the modern pointed toe equivalent is. Distressed grey drainpipe jeans that he appears to have been stitched into; a thin jumper that's only slightly more blue. He is carrying a man bag; but it is a man bag that has been cunningly disguised as a bowling ball bag - a shrunken one. Over his right shoulder is draped a white towel.

He has positioned himself by the railing on the right side of the door. She is at right angles to him, attempting to nestle, attempting to nuzzle. The sun is giving them just enough shadow - just enough cover - to play in.

Like clockwork, her hands flute out and over some part of his body: an arm, a shoulder, a wrist. The hands take it turns, and they don't appear to tire. Again, a touch. Again, a touch. He appears impassive, an impressive achievement considering the persistence and the lightness of the pressure.

He then squares up, facing the building. She does likewise, facing him. She then starts bouncing, from her knees. Towards him, away from him. Towards him, away from him. Is she getting closer? She must be. But then she goes further away. And on it goes. Bounce bounce bounce.

Tease tease tease.

His head turns rapidly - whipcrack snaps - every and any time someone emerges from the doorway. His head follows their path away from them, even after they've passed them. The same is true for anybody walking in either direction on the pavement, towards Goodge Street or Eastcastle Street. I can't see his eyes, but I imagine them to be displaying a watchfulness, a wariness, a hint that all of this could be plausibly denied with the merest hint of an expression which she can't detect.

None of these people give him or her a first look.

She now decides that she has to make the move. She lifts her arms over his head, so her hands land around his neck, and she holds her interlaced fingers there. It means her lips are an inch away from his for a minute. And then another minute. And then another.

And then the briefest, merest of kisses, a gentle pass of lip over lip; and then she leans forward, losing her head into his neck. This is how and where she stays for the next five minutes.

He doesn't seem to want to move from this stasis, this equality. So she decides to tempt him some more. She breaks away from him, then so in front of him that he can't look anywhere else, up her arms go, high above her hair, her hands grasping each other and stopping to support the back of the head.

And you can see in his eyes he's thought about her doing that for him, in another place, another time.

Her arms come down again, only to come up again. And he seizes a moment. He runs his finger under one of her armpits, then the other, feeling to see if there's any stubble there. She laughs, and her eyes are bright enough to dazzle me over the road, five floors up.

What's left of his roll-up, half an inch or so, is thrown down on to the steps that lead to the building's basement. He then tugs her towards him, pulling on her belt. This time, he's in charge. More plausible kisses; plentiful, and paused kisses.

They both seem happy with this, ecstatic even. More of his hair is played with. Her security pass slaps on her thigh.

They move into the doorway, and for a moment I think that he's going to walk in without looking back, without even giving a pretence of looking back, without her. Their fingers flutter together for a few more moments before finally, reluctantly, they break their gentle loose bond apart. He leads the way, up and over the step. She is half a pace behind, with her right hand out as if to lightly clasp some part of him, so he can lead the way back.

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