My ideal . . . focal point

Sat, Feb 23, 2013, 00:00

I was in my bedroom the other day, wondering where to hide the evidence of my previous wild night. I tucked the typical “morning after” stuff – Flake wrappers, celebrity magazines, razors – carefully under my mattress, lest the maid find them and smile at me in that funny way again. I swept the biscuit crumbs into the corner and Google-imaged “Beyoncé happy smiling” one last time before I cleared my browsing history. I was exhausted from my efforts so lay face down on the ground and began to decide the ideal place to look at someone when they are talking to you.

It would be lovely if everyone were an optician, telling you exactly where to look. “Watch the lollipop” opticians say to the little Four-eyes. Or “follow my pen” to us older Goggleboxes. It’s a blessed relief but it’s short-lived, replaced by panic brought on by what happens next. The part I giddily dread: the terrible beauty of an optician examining my eyes up close. They put their face so near mine, I just know they’re going to kiss me. I frantically wonder what I should do. Is it impolite to decline? Should I be more open to experimenting with elderly women in polyester pantsuits, or married men with pink shirts and even pinker faces? My eyes immediately cross with all the possibilities and I forget how to breathe properly. I leave the optician’s feeling light-headed and desirable, with ever thicker lenses in my glasses.

Some people are born with natural focal points on their faces. My old piano teacher was one such man. He had a mole over his lip that looked exactly like a shrew, right down to the same velvety texture. As he explained Chopsticks to me, I would watch the little face-mammal as it moved around sleepily, enthralled. Don’t ask me why he used chopsticks – I have since learned that playing with fingers is a great deal easier. Those of us without adorable errors on our faces must provide people with something else to look at. Jewellery does the trick nicely. Many a dull facade has been brightened by a pair of sparkling earrings. In addition, focusing on earrings necessitates a slight tilt of the head – the classic pose of a good listener, so everybody wins. Body art, too, should be used to catch the eye. Myself and my ex-husband had matching tattoos done along our temples – tear drops falling on to a tiny gun. We loved peace, you see, almost as much as we loved each other. It hurt to see, in recent photos from his State visit to Sri Lanka, that Michael has had his tat lasered into the word ‘Sabina’ in crude Tamil lettering.

But whatever, I’m over it.

Direct eye contact must be reserved for special occasions. Only eyeball someone when you are battle-ready, or in love. Be sure that you are fully prepared to fight or to fall. Then lift your bowed head and pow! The artist is present.

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