Friday, February 18, 2005

Grunt, grunt...

Peals of laughter pierced my ears, and I held my phone away, looking at it in disbelief. I have my heart broken, my body drenched, and when I called Lavi to buoy my spirit, and narrated the episodes of the day, the aforementioned was what I heard from her end.

Fine, so my heart wasn't broken, but it was definitely dented. And the episode occurred about ten months ago, but those peals of laughter still sting as if fresh. It is rather painful when you narrate a tragedy in the first person to a friend, hoping the latter would point out the silver lining and all, and the old friend finds the episode funny. Distressing, to say the least. Not what one wants to hear when, having stepped out for a walk to clear the depressed mind, one gets drenched in a surprise shower, accompanied by winds that have the sense of humour to un-roof the tea-shack where one has sought shelter and some tea.

But I present the facts in a slightly haphazard manner. So I shall start at the beginning.

Before I joined the startup I'm working in right now, which, incidentally, is all-male (shucks), I used to work in a larger organization, which, though not exactly populated by members of the daintier sex, definitely had token amounts of the same. And among these was one lady - we shall, to maintain a pretense of gentlemanliness, call her Ms.P - who was, shall we say, rather fetching. Now, unfortunately, I am not one of those dashing young men who, at time=t, are observed approaching the woman they deem as the next conquest, and at time=t+3 minutes, are observed riding into the sunset with the lady perched on their horse/motorcycle/car/scooterette. Nope. Though I am not exactly the bumbling idiot when confronted by a lady, I do tend to bumble a bit when the lady happens to be someone who has a direct effect on my pulse rate. At any rate, I wasn't one you put your money on in the matter of accosting women.

Thus, I remained largely quiet apart from the occasional witticism over the lunch table, till one day, an expansive mood, plus a conversation with a colleague, tipped me over. The conversation ran as follows:

Colleague: Hey, Senti, check out this interesting forward! (turns her screen towards me, revealing mail detailing sun signs and what they say about your personality, your love life, and how you're going to trip over the steps on the way out after work)

Me: (Preserving an air of superiority) Don't tell me you believe in this muck. I'm sure another female has sent this to you. (Scanning document) Oh, yes - Ms.P! (Scanning the recipient list) Hmmm... all female recipients, I notice. So how is it that the Gemini twins always send forwards to only females?
(Note: Ms.P was seldom seen in the absence of another lady of a similar face and build, Ms.Q, though the latter looked rather forbidding. By the Gemini twins I alluded to this pair)

Colleague: (Raises eyebrow) How do you know they're Gemini?

Me: Argh, I was speaking figuratively, HR woman! (ducking under marker pen skilfully thrown by colleague) However, the question shall be immediately clarified.

And thus, without much further thought, I opened my mailbox, clicked on "compose", added the ladies' addresses to the recipient list, and, with brain firing on all eight cylinders, typed in the amazingly tactful question: " A random thought: are you both Gemini?", and clicked "send". Too late I realized that this was perhaps not the best tactic to strike up conversation.

Well, Ms.Q did not take very kindly to the probing by some chap she hardly knew the name of, and I got a rather strong-worded mail expressing her disapproval. However, Ms.P was kind enough to let me know that no, she was Aquarius, and what was my sun sign? Hastily thanking my stars that the underlying snide remark in the question went unnoticed by both parties, I applied myself to the task, and went on to ask the brilliant question all guys should ask the girls they are interested in when they want to avoid beating around the bush: "Do you like reading? My favourite happens to be Michael Crichton. Have you read any of his books?". Genius, I thought to myself about two minutes after sending the mail, head resting on both hands. If Natural Selection had its way, I would never procreate.

However, she was surprisingly tolerant, and remarked that though she had not had the opportunity to read any of Mr.Crichton's works, she was eager to start, and could I lend her any?

Patting myself on the back, I went back home and scanned my bookshelf, the only piece of furniture I have apart from my TV stand. I soon realized that I had been rather lax in claiming back the various Crichtons that I had lent friends, and was thus short of the best ones - Jurassic Park, Sphere, Prey, Disclosure, etc. Upon close scrutiny of the collection, I decided on Congo. It would have to do for now.

Early next morning, I hand over the book to the lady, who was looking as dazzling as ever. She smiled and walked away, and while I was still recovering my breath, I get a mail from her thanking me, and wasn't this the book that inspired the monster flick "King Congo"?

I reeled under the sudden blow. Ohmygod, please let this be a joke, I prayed fervently, as I replied politely, stating the facts: No, this did inspire a motion pic, but it was not "King Congo", but a slightly more intelligent flick called "Congo", after the book. I also mentioned that perhaps the movie she was referring to, which also had a Gorilla in it, was "King Kong". I then sat back, and hoped fervently for a mail bearing something similar to "Ha ha ha!" in the subject line.

Then the final crushing blow: it was no joke. The woman had genuinely mixed up the names. The name of a Michael Crichton novel mixed up with a SENSELESS B-GRADE MOVIE ABOUT AN OVERGROWN, HORNY GORILLA!

The next time I come across a woman who accelerates the pulse, etc, I think I shall go up to her, grunt, flare my nostrils, and twitch my ears. The results would not be very different, but shocks as described above can be avoided.

Incidentally, did Congo have a king at some point? Will check google...


Shrutz said...

Okay, I sympathise with your friend here!!! :D I can't stop laughing, monsieur
Lesson to be learnt here (for both Ms. P and you).. Don't judge a book by its cover!
I must admit, I liked the book far more than the movie. The gorillas looked too plastic for my liking. My all-time favourite Crichton is Timeline, though.
Here's something to ponder
1) if you'd lent her Prey, she might have thought it was a spiritual guide of some sort or something to do with swarms of insects.
2) Sphere would be a football story "Bend it like Beckham", anyone?
3) I'd stay clear of Disclosure, if I were you, especially if she were your superior. Sends out the WRONG signals, you know!
The rest I leave to your imagination!

Anonymous said...

Your friend beat me to the punch...don't judge a book by its cover.

Anonymous said...

Hilarity, thy name is Arnie. Very funny piece!

~The Sailor from Marlinspike

Anonymous said...

This might interest you. :)

King Congo
By Michael Hanlon

They are 2.2m tall, weigh more than 90kg and are fond of lion for breakfast. They make their home in the darkest reaches of the Congolese jungle and hunt in packs, silently stalking their prey for hours, then breaking cover and overcoming the terrified creature before it has a chance to flee.

For more:

~ Shibani.

Anurag said...

Funny, Senti, very funny. I don't blame your friend for laughing...

Senthil said...

I completely identify with Bertie Wooster... like him, I have often noticed my audience guffawing when I relate an anecdote of sorrow and despair to them, and "preserving the cold aloofness of a wednesday matinee audience" when I srack the funniest of jokes. Sigh.

On a personal note,

Shruti: Hmmm. She wasn't my superior, (that would be the icing on the cake), but there's a thought...

Anonymous: I can't help it - I'm your everyday, shallow, prejudiced male.

Cap'n Haddock: Ho ho. Almost as funny as the Bogga episode, eh? HAHAHAHAHA.

Shibani: Wow. I should've expected something of the sort from your quarter... :) Batman was not exaggerating about you.

Anurag: Hmmm... what can I say... et tu?
Oh, and thanks for noticing Linus... you're the first one to comment on it - yes, he does rule. When Lucy isn't around :)

Arvind said...

Wodehouse oozes from every sentence you have put down. And how!!

i like your writing style.

Pip Pip,

Senthil said...

Thanks, Arvind. I admit to being under an overdose of wodehouse when I wrote this (and other subsequent) article(s). I am, however, struggling to develop a style of my own, if that is possible, and shall endeavour to give uniform satisfation.