My insecurities are boundless. They seem to straddle all the domains: physical, social and intellectual. I’m even insecure about other people’s emotional sturdiness.
I went to the theatre yesterday and sat next to a very well groomed actress. We got talking (how else would I know she was an actress?) and it turned out that she sees more theatre than me. Her breadth of knowledge was extensive and her ability to critique was impressive. Naturally, I felt a little inferior. She was stylish and had poise and I felt like a crumpled sweaty heap in a theatre which sorely lacked air conditioning. As I sweated and reddened she gracefully flicked a stylish fan across her unblemished face.
Sitting at a cafe in Hyde Park later, I noticed a well groomed gay couple sitting at the table next to us. They spoke in clipped tones, dripped money from every pore and made me feel slightly shabby in my chain store clothes and with my flat Midlands vowels. As I got latte foam all over my cheeks they daintily sipped their tea.
Walking by us was a very handsome man with his girlfriend. Naturally, I had to appraise him. It’s the duty of the gay man. He had broad muscular shoulders, a chiselled jaw and striking eyes. He also had a better head of hair than my thinning mane, model good looks and a dominant way of striding forward. Of course, I felt inferior and my insecurities rose to the fore again as I contemplated my weedy upper arms and face which could only model as a ‘before’ in an advert for cosmetic surgery.
Thinking back later, I felt a rush of satisfaction as I wracked my brains to look for these perfect specimens’ feet of clay. The actress sat in the wrong seat in the theatre, initially and displayed a clumsy gaucheness, apologetically fumbling her way back to the correct seat. Of course she’s an expert in theatre too. It doesn’t make her next in line for a Nobel Prize. It’s just that theatre is her business. Ask her questions on my chosen career subject and she’s have surely floundered. The well groomed gay couple were perfectly poised in the cafe but as we left the park we saw them walking purposefully, several feet apart. They’d clearly had a row and their body language positively screamed pent up rage and resentment. Speaking like a BBC announcer and wearing good clothes does not equate happiness. As for the dishy bloke: he passed us again and the rear view was less than appetising. He had childbearing hips and a set of buttocks that would have fed a family of four for a week.
I wonder why I feel the need to compete, to mentally compare myself and score points. Maybe it’s evolutionary, maybe just societal. Whatever the case, if we meet then you can sure I’ll be looking for your flaws. You know what though; I’ll like you so much for having them.
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He’s usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.
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