‘Add a touch of sex and we’ll have them…!’ He emphasized his brilliance with a casual click of fingers to attract a waiter’s attention. The man’s capitalist orientation was all there in the casual certainty of his educated voice. You couldn’t have missed it. We’ll satisfy the insatiable appetite, attract them with plastic breasts, draw them in with what they can’t get enough of and feed them our subliminal message. They won’t even know that we’re selling them something else… was the implicit message. Sex. The cherry on the top. The sweetener. The appetiser. The addiction. He reminded me of a thirty-something self-starter I once worked with who owned his own Company and developed client training material for the big ERP software providers like SAP and Oracle. A successful businessman who wore an earring and long shining black hair in a ponytail; nothing wrong with being smart and arty his whole attitude seemed to say. Contrary to what you might expect the big corporate executives loved him. We put it down to the confidence he projected. That’s what this guy in the coffee shop was like too; super-confident, no doubts in his mind about sex being the ultimate additive. The woman opposite him was listening closely, her head to one side; she wasn’t going to challenge him. He could have been an advertising executive or a literary agent. I keep thinking back to what Saul Bellow said about every serious writer having to write a book about death and another about sex. Sex is as weighty a topic as death is, I want to say to the stranger I overheard on my way out the coffee shop. It’s not just a throwaway line. I want to tell him I find gratuitous sex to be nasty and horrible. He wants to sell me cheap perfume and I want to buy a timeless erotic fragrance. I want to tell him: Sex isn’t just about pelvic thrusts and bared boobs in our faces; it’s physical contact between living breathing thinking human beings. A mysterious alchemy of mind and skin. That’s the secret space that could fascinate one. It’s a great comfort that what goes around comes around; everything’s going retro these days. My coffee shop man may even impress a future acolyte with the immortal line: ‘add a touch of class and we’ll have them…!’ One can live in hope.
PS. Blogging is turning out to be more fun than I thought. There’s something therapeutic about being able to respond to a stranger’s words without ever speaking to him.