As far as I can tell, I’ve been hit on twice in my life. The first time was during my graduation party. Boy whom I’d barely spoken to in three years said something along the lines of him thinking he and I would be good together. I clutched his shoulder and vomited on to a rather expensive carpet (not because of him but because I’d drunk Kremlin vodka without having eaten anything all day; ghastly night). I do remember I managed to miss his shoes, which I thought was rather considerate of me. The second occasion was almost ten years later, at an art gallery where a man who could barely stand straight slurred that I was so beautiful that I should be in the works that were on display and did I want to “you know, be appreciated”. This is when I felt terrible that I can’t vomit at will and that there was no Kremlin vodka to induce some regurgitation.
Some of my closest friends have told me that I’m “un-hittable”, which sounds like we’re judging my suitability for bride burning or domestic violence but never mind that. Apparently I’m intimidating. However, if men are intimidated by short, bumbling, round brown people, then I think that says more about men than me. Others have told me that I’m an idiot and I just don’t know when someone hits on me. They don’t believe me when I say that in my experience, “Let’s meet for coffee” isn’t strategy; it’s a guy who wouldn’t mind some company while he gets his caffeine fix. When I point out such things, my friends become even more convinced of my idiocy. Today, however I have proof that a) I’m not intimidating and b) what might be a line in case of most women is actually an earnest enquiry when the woman in question is me.
There I was in the Andheri Landmark, minding my own business and giving my biceps an exercise by clutching books I can’t afford to my chest. When I was at the Philosophy section, I realised there was a chap staring at me. He tailed me past Hindi, into Religion and Non-Fiction. While I looked at the Amartya Sen reader, he managed to make a dozen books fall to floor, as if the residents of the shelf in Non-Fiction had fainted because they couldn’t believe this man was looking at them. In the world of Richard Curtis, such a man ends up being Hugh Grant. In my life, he looks like a moustache-less Sivaji. Finally, when I was almost at Literary Fiction, he came up to me and said in Hindi, “Excuse me, are you an artist?” I blinked and replied in the negative. “No, you are an artist. I’ve seen you at Prithvi.” Double negative. “You don’t come on stage?” Triple negative. Poor boy looked entirely perplexed. “You are sure you’re not a stage artist?” First positive. Scratching his head, he walked off towards Indian Fiction without another word, called someone on his phone and said to them that no, I wasn’t the actress. Then he picked up “Johnny Gone Down”.
See? Definitely not intimidating since strangers can randomly come up to me and, despite my apparent resemblance to some stage actress, definitely not being hit upon. Considering the boy’s taste in books, I’m quite relieved I’m un-hittable but I do wonder which poor soul on the Mumbai stage has to make a living as an actress while looking like me.