Although I might feel like one occassionally, I am no longer a teenager, exactly. In fact, one might even go as far as to say, my teen years are well and truly behind me. Bat sized spectacles, frilly white blouses, plastic hairbands and the boyband cassettes that I would play on my Sony walkman are now indistinct memories of a bygone era, albeit still fondly preserved by my mother since, as she insists everytime I set foot in my childhood home, you never know when you might need something.
Members of the opposite sex that I am generally presented with, typically belong to a similar age group. If not older. They wear suits to work, have cars and hang framed paintings on their walls nowadays instead of rock posters. Most of them live with their wives or partners and would not look out of place in an advertisement of the Hum Do, hamare do genre.
I therefore find it very strange, when they still act like prepubescent boys and not men.
I have perfected the art of dodging doors that threaten to slam into my face as they stride along oblivious to the fact that I am almost running in heels to keep up. I usually collect my belongings and scamper helpfully out of cars without any expectations unless there is a chauffeur present who inspires the confidence that he knows his job. In most cases, the question of an air-kiss and hug greeting does not even arise. I am wary even when I shake hands for fear of my paw being crushed in an over zealous and steely grip. In fact, so unused am I to genteel behaviour, that when S first took me out to dinner and held my coat out for me, I almost fainted in disbelief. Even now, when he fetches me a drink without me having to ask for it, or unobstrusively flicks the cheque away before I can glance at it, I give him bewildered looks.
For other male friends have greeted me with questions on every personal aspect of my life - right from how much money I make to when I intend to get married, within a few seconds of saying Hi! Haven't spoken to you in years!
While I have inched towards middle age in the interim since we swapped notebooks and sympathised about what a bitch of a lecture that last Indian Eco class was, they are still quite the same. And when I let my dislike for such behaviour be known, they seem genuinely surprised at how I have "changed".
I wonder if professionally, they are as clueless when it comes to dealing with women as they seem to be in their personal lives. Or maybe, the poor women who they deal with on a day to day basis have simply given up on such things. And would collapse right there on the road if they offered to help with a heavy laptop bag when they are running to a meeting together.
Brings to mind a very strange dinner I had once attended. There was a guy there I had met some years back when we were both taking tuitions for CAT. Throughout the whole evening, this person just could not stop making lewd jokes - about everything. You name it, and he would turn it into some kind of an innuendo. I am no shrinking violet, but rarely have I been presented with such a sex-obsessed sense of humour and everyone else seemed just as bemused. I was the only girl present, unfortunately, and I was dying to get out of there before I felt compelled to say something rude. After I had escaped, I pondered over the cause of this erotic mirth in the fellow. The alcohol had not been excessive, conversation had centred around work and how we all felt homesick from time to time, and the people present were hardly the sort to get one's hormones overflowing.
No, it had to be me. Not used to speaking to a girl, the chap simply didn't know what would be a safe dinner table conversation and what was downright strange. If you don't believe me, try this for size - during a lull, I commented on how there were pigeons loudly cooing from atop a skylight in the room. To which, he replied with a peculiar smirk, they must be, you know...
I did know. And I wished he knew too - when to shut up.