Monday, 30 March 2009

Poll: chat up or not chat up?

I am on a blissfully, bizarrely empty 92 tram. The yellow orb is making a rare appearance in the sky so I decide to look out of the window rather than read my book. At the Sablon a man gets on and drops his packet of tissues at my feet. I move my legs out of the way so he can pick them up. As he thanks me, we make eye contact and smile at each other. He is about my age, and reminds me a little of Prog Rock, very gentle looking with gingery hair.

I will transcribe and translate our conversation exactly, because it is so very Belgian.


Ginger Man: you look distraite (preoccupied).

E: No, I'm just enjoying the sunshine; I thought I would try and look out of the window rather than reading my book for once.

Ginger Man: Yes, it is a beautiful day, I want to look out of the window too.

Silence.

Ginger Man: those orange rabbits are very ugly.

Me: You think? I don't mind them.

Ginger: Yes, they are so industrial looking. We are destroying nature, and replacing it with plastic effigies of animals.

Me: I think they are agreeably surreal. Very appropriate for Belgium, a bit like the giant blue brain.

Ginger: What? The giant blue brain?

Me: You do not know the giant blue brain?

Ginger: I haven't been taking this tram for long.

Me: There was a giant blue brain above the museums, but now it has gone.

Silence

Ginger: The rabbits are better than the cows, I suppose.

Me: You think?

Ginger: I have a problem with cows. They are so .. industrial.

Me: You find cows industrial? Interesting.

Ginger: There are dairy products EVERYWHERE. Everything has milk in. You cannot find food without dairy produce. Cows are a symbol of our industrial society.

Me: An interesting perspective. So the rabbits are better? Less 'industrial'? We don't exploit them so intensively?

Ginger: At least we don't milk rabbits.

Me: Milking rabbits would be very difficult (then I mime milking a rabbit. Ginger nods seriously).

More silence

Ginger: I love nature.

E: I don't. It is the fault of my parents.

Ginger: Why?

E: They made me go to la campagne all the time.

Ginger: I campaign for the preservation of green spaces. I make the children do paintings and draw on carrots (I swear he said this).

E: There is no hope for me, but I have a weepette who obliges me to go into the green spaces sometimes.

Ginger: Ah! I have a Shitzu.

E: The small things with lots of hair?

Ginger: Yes. She makes me walk a lot. Even in the rain.

E: The weepette does not like the rain. The weepette is not very courageux.

Silence

Ginger: What would your book have been if you were reading?

E: (getting out and holding up Revolutionary Road and The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam): this one is depressing, and this one is just light and not very sérieux).

G: Ah, you read in anglais.

E: I am anglaise, it is no achievement.

Ginger (holding out his hand) My name is Pierre Paul.

E: (shaking it) Emma.

Ginger: Like Emma Bovary. Though that is not a very felicitous comparison.

E: No, she is not an ideal model. I am named after another literary Emma, from Emma by Jane Austen.

Ginger: It is an English name?

E: Yes. I was luckier than my sister. She does not like her name.

Ginger: Oh?

E: Yes, she is called [Space Cadette].

Ginger: But [Space Cadette] is nice?

E: She does not think it suits her.

Ginger: Pierre Paul is not a good name. People forget and get confused and call me Jean Pierre. We should be able to change names as we change and get older. Our names are just like a reference code, like a bar code in a shop, to label us.

E: Emma is fine. It is simple.

Ginger: I would not say 'simple'.

E: This is my stop. Bonne Soirée!

Ginger: Bonne Soirée.


****

So? Your verdict?

67 comments:

Miss Whistle said...

What a delicious encounter, so orange and blue. Makes one yearn for Europe.

M. said...

Definite chat up. Dogs? Emma Bovary? No question.

Grapes 2.0 said...

Absolutely. That whole conversation just oozed pure sex.

Titian red said...

Oh, that was a chat up - maybe a sociologist eco chat up, but still a chat up. What were his shoes like ? That is important.

So Lovely said...

Ummm-interesting and riveting. Reminds me of a movie, long pauses, slightly uncomfortable. I believe it maybe have been a chat up in a monosyllabic sort of way.

Red Shoes said...

Adorable.

Artichoke Queen said...

A man who has missed the enormous blue brain hovering over Brussels for, oh, quite some time now is surely not quick enough on his feet for a conscious chat up.

A more pressing issue is why on earth you are still carrying around RR. Wasn't it decided over the weekend that it is Unsuitable Reading Matter for you these days?

Hope the yellow orb did you some good today.

Layla said...

total pheromonal firestorm situation with sizzling subtext (was going to write 'undertext' then, and then thought, no, that's not right...

I mean to say, CARROTS?

Layla said...

bugger - missing bracket. you know where it should go...

Mrs Trefusis... said...

woo. Surreal just like every French film I've ever seen

screamish said...

mmmm. nice. v nice. but are you just making him sound interesting? you know you cant resist a good line....a man who instructs children how to draw on carrots..marry him immediately so you can tell the story to your friends.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Sure your tram didn't take you along the lake Geneva? This sounds very Swiss to me.
Chat up? Not convinced. Rather the same type of guy that 'chats you up', because you pick non-organic chicken in the supermarket. Or because you dare to pick chicken in the first place.
And what does draw on a carrot mean? They are not literally drawing on carrots, hein? Wouldn't that be the industrialization of these poor, exploited creatures???

Layla said...

Of COURSE it's a bloody chat-up. When a man with a fully-functioning Y chromosome speaks to a Strange Woman, it's always a chat-up.

Unless she's a barmaid, and he's asking for a pint, and then it's a Chat Up With Beer.

Testosterone rules the world. Thank God women at least have Toblerone.

mothership said...

FIRST OFF: my wv is unhaund
as you know, the wv's are psychic and always accurate.
this is a combo of unhand and hound so right off the bat we can sense his pathetic ambivalence.


He OBVIOUSLY was trying to chat you up and impress you with the industrial cow blarney and was probably slightly crestfallen but also piqued that you challenged him with the rabbit rejoinder. My money is on him still fantasizing about your bunny milking mime RIGHT NOW.
I expect you'll be seeing him again on that route as he will need to come back and say something cleverer that he has been practicing for a while, but he will be scared of you because you are too intelligent for him.
Don't know why I have taken so violently against this poor sod, but really, thought he could have done better when you gave him such excellent chances.
PS. Put that bloody Revolutionary Road AWAY

Sarah said...

Definitely.

Top Bird @ Wee Birdy said...

Love it. Especially the bits about orange rabbits and blue brains.

And I'm also quite loving the image of you milking the rabbit. Miming milking the rabbit, that is.

Think def a chat up. Hope there is a part 2. xx

Marie said...

I quite fancy him myself. Is that wrong?

monk said...

It's Brief Encounter, surely? Were there frissons and long pauses?

You should have arranged to meet in front of the Manneken Pis in six months. Although I'm mixing my films a bit now...

halfwaythere said...

Hmm. I have a tendancy to chat to strangers with the most innocent of intentions (mostly because they are talking about fascinating things like industrial rabbits) and only hours later do I get told off by the boyfriend and assorted friends for 'chatting up' said strangers. So I am no judge of this either way.

However, wv is 'deptivir' which sounds like eastern european for for a 'deceiver'. I don't know what that means.

Mr Farty said...

I think he just wants to eat your brains. Damned zombies everywhere.

We've only got as far as the cows, no giant orange rabbits as yet.

More than Just a Mother said...

Most definitely a chat up. I found the mention of carrots really quite arousing.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Wonderfully surreal conversation, Mme Bovary, er Walker. Very sad and poignant; Full of intelligence, longing and nostalgie de la boue, n'est-ce pas...

Layla said...

my views here may be somewhat biased because of recent distressing experience with 'avuncular' mid-sixties antique dealer whom I thought was solely interested in instructing me in arcane details of provenance of Ottoman era Turkish domestic embroideries.

My illusions about my new friend and mentor re Turkish vernacular textile art were rudely dispelled when he suggested bringing a bottle of wine round to my place for an evening in front of the log fire in my camel barn, what with his wife not understanding him and all.

'twas ever thus...

THE CARROTS ARE A METAPHOR!!!

Juci said...

I thought he sounded like a pompous idiot. Sorry.

sue said...

Leave well alone, especially if he is a ginger. And before anyone pours scorn on me, I am married to one. They really do have ideas above their station, of this I can assure you. Definitely a chat up.

I have to email you. Soon, with mammoth advice, updates on pokemon and pictures of shoes. I will, I promise, I will.

Jenny said...

He 'dropped his packet of tissues at my feet.'I think not.He threw down the Gauntlet of Luurve.And took a crafty peek at your legs.

Jessica K said...

I would not normally recognize a chat up line if I tripped over it (and I probably would), but I think definitely a chat up. He was wierdly persistent.

JPM said...

really great little chat up.

word veri. is "duregur" :)

P. said...

Homeboy is hot for teacher, no questions asked.

Layla said...

..and there's a phrase which brings back a few memories..

Maternal Tales said...

I can't believe you had a conversation about milking rabbits. I agree with Mothership - he is definitely still thinking about that right now and I'm sure he will be for many days to come.

Frau said...

Oh yah! Chat up for sure! Very interesting fasr better than a couple pages in a book.

Millennium Housewife said...

It depends on how you feel about spending your first date drawing on carrots. You likey? It's a chat up. Don't fancy an affair that requires you to sculpture an onion into a working model of The Eden Project? No chat up.

Wife in Hong Kong said...

Such a surreal chat up (no question) could only happen in your world Mme Jaywalker. Writing on carrots? Orange rabbits? You had quite a redhead/orange theme going. A dog called a Shitzu? Now that IS appropriate.

Mum's the word said...

That was such a discreet way to chat a person up.
And I loved the whole yellow rabbit/blue brain part of the conversation.
I was in Chicago when that city was inundated by Cows on Parade. Everywhere you looked there was another artistic, creative moo.
Definitely a chat up.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

Seems like a chatup; but he seems so intellectual (milking rabbits?!!)!!

Layla said...

rabbit-milking - the new Belgian paraphilia...

as if they didn't have enough already. What have you done, BW, what have you DONE?

Jaywalker said...

Layla - I am so sorry. I AM SOOO SORRY.

I can't cope with the rest of you quite yet, but Layla is obviously very disturbed so I have to apologise to her individually. I am sorry about the milking rabbits and the carrots, Layla. It will be ok. Return to stroking your books.

Jools said...

No doubt a chat-up. An existential chat-up. Had it been here, it would have been noirish.

karenmc said...

A bloke carrying a packet of tissues? And not even hidden in a briefcase? RUN!

Phoenix Berries said...

He was trying to get you to talk about nature and shagging in the woods, as a segue into asking you up to see his carrots.

Summer said...

Yellow rabbit/blue brain.Love it..Chat up!!=)
Have a great day.

GingerB said...

Chat up - yes. Arty and kinky - yes. I'm thinking 9 1/2 weeks but with the Mickey Rourke of yesteryear, not of this year.

Get rid of that book, JW. If you want angst at least change to a different context.

Look at the orb.

wv: spatyper a war of the words

Mya said...

If you see him again - run in the opposite direction very fast! Tissues, carrots,rabbit milking...what next? For God's sake don't tell him about your tortoises. Eeew....I just made myself feel slightly bilious...gotta go...

Mya x

May I suggest a little light tram reading - 'Repelling the Roots of Ginger' by Turner Spicer.

Mrs C said...

I'll be contrary and say chat down. There is too much WTF for him to be taken seriously, it is borderline creepy. Drawing on carrots? Industrialised cows? No. Cry for help more like.

Do Belgian people really have conversations like this? Between themselves? I'm sure you've done some eavesdropping on your tram and am dying to know.

JustaRabbit said...

Oh dear, I wonder what it means that I think this was a tres interesting conversation?

Chantal said...

I think that was lovely. See, people complain that in cities strangers don't talk to one another enough, but I disagree, because when they do, they have beautiful conversations like this. Quality over quantity.

(Er, ok, some of the time. When the 'conversation' isn't road/bus/tube rage. Sorry, I am just an unrepentant romantic Cityphile)

nappy valley girl said...

It sounds like the script from a very postmodern play.

I am just picturing you doing the mime to milking rabbits....

Marinka said...

he's right. cows are industrial. I knew it!

justme said...

The mime to milking rabbits is indeed a little disturbing.
A man who draws on carrors however, may be a man after your ow heart. Chat up? Who knows. Were you chatting him up back?? So to speak...

justme said...

That would be carrots....sigh!

Jaywalker said...

Miss Whistle - I am so glad.

M / Grapes /Titian - ok, I hear you; it was a very weird chat up if indeed so. Titian - not sure, maybe trainers?

So Lovely - yes. (long pause). it was.

Artichoke Queen - your point is a good one. RR: just still in handbag. Promise I haven't read any more.

Mrs Trefusis - closely observed trams! the man on the tram! I have invented a whole new arthouse genre.

screamish - no, I swear I have reported accurately; I left out a couple of bits of local colour about a particular patch of grass we discussed, btu have added nothing.

MM - que sais-je? Swiss would definitely not allow drawing on carrots. Unsightly.

mothership - rest assured if he does reappear you will get a full report. It can't be as captivating again though, can it?

Top bird - I have to say the rabbit milking was not my finest hour. It was like gesticular tourettes.

Marie - no, not at all. Are you a ginger lover in the manner of hoxton helen and violet?

Monk - lots of pauses, not really so many frissons; but yes we should have arranged to meet in the toppermost ball of the atomium! Too romantic.

halfwaythere - I am sure a deceptivir is a baddie out of the Transformers. Was he a deceptivir? I do hope not!

Mr F - very probable.

More than a Mother - the carrots were a throwaway thing. The dairy produce however, was very insistent.

Woman - hmm. I have my doubts.

Juci - I am sure you are right. Get on with preserving the green spaces, ginger.

sue - oh, yes, do email me. I live for email. xxx

jenny - ah, the old gauntlet of love trick. my legs were very stoutly encased in black opaques. but I did have red shoes on.

jessica k - yes, until the very last moment when he seemed to just give up. no attempt to get my number, etc, which was why I ended up concluding it can't have been a come on.

JPM - well, it was at least very entertaining.

P - Oh, feel retrospective frisson now!

maternal tales - I do like to think so. generally my charms are so well hidden as to be entirely invisible to the naked eye.

Frau - yes, it was.

MH - no, not an onion. I am all for the vegetable sculpture as the marrowdile testifies, but an onion would be just too sore.

Wife in HK - and such an un-butch dog! Wanted to tell him Geri Halliwell had one, but it seemed likely to end in more weirdness.

Mum's the word - discreet to the point of barely discernible. Sort of sweet.

Roshni - I suppose intellectuals too must find mates.

Jools - noirish chat up. I like.

karenmc - you are quite probably right. tissues not a good sign.

Phoenix Berries - he was SO barking up the wrong tree with the nature thing. I am not his earth goddess, no indeed.

Ginger B - he didn't have a mickey rourke look. more like the ginger bloke from the Full Monty. Google him if necessary. RR duly ditched.

Mya - I am surprised at your squeamishness. Surely not as bad as KwitFit grey pube on lip man?

Mrs C - they definitely have a tendency to strike up conversations with strangers with no apparent subtext. I like it a lot.

Justarabbit - it would be the milking wouldn't it? Bound to fascinate you, what with being just a rabbit.

Chantal - it can happen. though I once got into an actual physical fight with a man at liverpool street station when 6 months pregnant. that was mental, I was SO up for beating him up. Had to be restrained.

NVG - best not to picture it too vividly, eh?

Marinka - expand please? Industrial cow theory. I need more details.

Justme - I was tickled by the weirdness. And he didn't seem like an axe murderer, though who am I to judge? So chatting, but not chatting up.

peevish said...

Now I'm thinking of rabbit's-milk cheese.
I wonder how that would taste? Carroty, probably.

See, this is the difference between men & women. The woman is always trying to figure out what the man's motivation is even when the answer is always the same: the man is always trying to score. Unless he is gay, in which case he is checking out the men while he talks to you.

He probably knew all along about the big blue brain, he just wanted to flatter you and listen to you explain it.

Parisgirl said...

Does Belgium have an equivalent of Libération? If so, I'd keep an eye out for a small ad in the "love on public transport" section. You know what I mean. They're in every edition of Libé: "You picked up my tissues. Our eyes met. I talked about rabbits and carrots. You talked about blue brains. Call me for more esoteric conversation." Hee hee. x

GREENWICH MEAN BITCH said...

I would like to be contrary even to those who are already contrary. The question is not whether this was chat up or not - the point is that you hoped it was. You crave adventure. You are ripe for picking.

Mrs C said...

GMB has a point.

Also? I really wish that peevish hadn't referred to rabbit-milk cheese that tastes like carrots.

That's just wrong.

;-)

Jaywalker said...

Peevish - yes, with hay top notes. But very dear. A real artisan product.


Parisgirl - actually this reminds me of a post I have wanted to do for ages, as Brussels 'metro' has a predictably fantastic Love on the Tram column. Must start collecting.

Bitch - you are right, I fear. I am an emotional catastrophe waiting to happen; a soon to become cautionary tale. I have started talking to strangers. That's not a good thing, is it? They told us so at primary school.

Layla said...

I so agree with Greenwich Mean Bitch.

Greatly looking forward to your imminent transformation into Depraved Cyber Slut..

It's about time. After all, you can spend only so long channelling all your pent-up sexual energy into making seriously mutant cakes and turning marrows into crocodiles. In fact, the unhealthy interest in marrows was, with hindsight, a clear indication of what was about to erupt -

The Story of J

Pearl said...

A delightful encounter to be sure, but beyond? Hmmm. Did his eyes twinkle at all?

Pearl

Chantal said...

Jaywalker, I hear you. I once kicked a bus whilst pounding on the doors with my fists at Highbury Corner (deserved, trust me).

The next day at work, my friend (who also lived locally) said to me, "my boyfriend saw you last night at Highbury Corner, he was going to wave but he was on a bus and you...didn't get on".

The shame.

WV is 'redish', funny, that was the colour of my face the morning after the bus rage incident.

Red Shoes said...

Gah, I wish someone would chat me up. It's been ages and my ego, it deflates.

Iheartfashion said...

What a lovely surreal conversation, but please dispose of Revolutionary Road.

Lucy Fishwife said...

He wants to fill you with his evil ginger seed (being of ginger descent I fear the male of the species)! Although he sounds tres sweet, mefie-toi, ma coco, he wants to spread gingerness through the world.
PS Word verification is "ovesses"... des promesses that you make with your ovaries! Beware.

Jaywalker said...

"Evil ginger seed"; "Depraved cyber slut". And now I abandon any hope of a decent night's sleep.

Marie said...

Yes. I drink from the ginger cup. Though not exclusively.

Layla said...

See great potential in idea of the Great Belgian Sex Novel based on your exploits with random strangers encountered on the no.92 tram. And it’s so original! Don’t think there’s been any tram-slut erotica to date. There was that French academic who wrote about her encounters with multiple lorry drivers, amongst others, but this would be much better. Very Brief Encounters, with carrots and giant rabbits.

The Story of O, updated with surreal Belgian elements, will sell in millions to surreally-depraved S&M-loving Belgians, and also worldwide. Then you will be able to give up your job at the Corridor of Ennui, and also pay someone else to make the cakes – resulting in far fewer nightmares for their terror-stricken infant recipients.

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