This post contains part two of a story about a recent evening on Smith St at A mic in hand at Vibe cafe.
I felt sympathetic towards the heckler, whose point of view was similar to mine, and drifted out of Vibe with her and her friend. I too thought Stilson had been somewhat sexist and insensitive in his comments (and at very least he was not at all funny). On the footpath on Vibe’s tables and benches we sat and talked (or rather the heckler ranted with increasing incoherence at me and her friend). The friend soon said she was going home to her girlfriend. Upstairs I had thought that the heckler and her friend were a couple, but evidently they were not.
I hung around wondering if I would need to stop a fight between the heckler and either of the two of the evening’s performers (also hanging out on the footpath) that she was determined to talk to. Stilson had apparently left in a fury but the heckler and I talked to Yianni and then Sanz (or she ranted again and I tried to moderate the conversations to stop the comedians walking away in exasperation). Both were charming, polite and more than considerate given the heckler’s volatile behaviour.
The heckler had had a few champagnes but did not seem seriously drunk. She exhibited the classic dangerous mix of sexy and insane that I used to find intoxicating in my twenties but which I’ve long since learned to avoid. She was very touchy-feely, disinhibited and a self confessed mess. My alarm bells were ringing and I took nothing for granted about her desires or preferences.
The heckler was holding my hand and putting it on her thigh while telling Sanz that she had slept with a woman comedian they both admired. I have enjoyed the company of bisexual women in the past and I’m am not possessive or controlling in my relationships with women, so nothing in this was new to me. I’ve lived a relatively calm life for a few years and the circumstances almost made me nostalgic.
Previous experience gave me insight and patience. I would wait for a polite moment then physically withdraw a little, removing my hand from her thigh and putting it neutrally on my own leg or on the table. The heckler quickly grabbed me again. This was repeated several times.
After our conversations with Yianni and Sanz the heckler and I continued talking together. She rubbed herself against me several times. I told her how I enjoyed her attention and how the physical contact with her made me feel. Most men would reasonably interpret this physically affectionate behaviour as flirtation or foreplay, but that would have been a serious mistake.
I directly questioned her about her motivation, and asked whether or not her intentions were sexual. She said they were not, which was the answer I was expecting. Inappropriate overfamiliarity and excessive disinhibition are signs of psychological instability, not arousal.
Being on the receiving end of this type of behaviour is simply too good to be true, and I’ve learned to back away slowly from such dysfunctional women. The heckler wanted attention, but not sexual attention. She had a very poor way of communicating this, which was counter-intuitive and paradoxical, and seemed completely unaware of how her behaviour could be interpreted by the people she interacted with.
Taking her behaviour at face value and responding accordingly could have resulted in her later accusing me of being inappropriate. If the heckler had met a man with fewer scruples or a poorer understanding of the complex interaction of sexual politics and body language, she may have found herself in difficult circumstances.
My tolerance for space cadets has decreased with age. The complete disconnect between her behaviour and her intentions annoyed and frustrated me; it was late and I wanted to go home. I managed to put the heckler onto the last 86 tram to Northcote and I walked home alone.
It was a shame because I’ve recently become single again and, apart from the insanity, she was exactly my type: similar age to me (mid – late 30s), educated and curious, with an animated personality and a complicated sexual identity. I also liked her style: flat Mary Jane cherry leather shoes, ripped tights, op shop dress, messy hair and minimal makeup.
It was not quite the night I had been expecting.