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Notes of a Professional Voyeur IV - Fiction Serial by Benny Profane

Each session in my local watering-hole furnishes me with further evidence of the complex compendium of gestures that reveal odd truths concerning the shared experiences of these fascinating creatures. On this day my attention is drawn to one gesture in particular that I hope to deconstruct for your special consideration.

Sitting round a table at the other end of the bar there are three friends, regulars I might add, who are on their third round of drinks and who, having quickly exhausted all obvious and pertinent topics, have now manoeuvred themselves into a conversational cul de sac. I see each one nervously avoiding eye contact with the other; quietly hoping that the ads on the TV will soon finish and be replaced by something else that might serve to inspire any form of anecdote, witticism, digression or comment.

But their silent wishes are not granted and for the time being they are cast adrift on an ocean of social awkwardness; it is at this point that the subconscious language of gestures manifests itself.

For the sake of expediency (and being ignorant of their real names) I will refer to our three subjects as X, Y and Z.

So when the discomfort of this elongated silence has reached its peak, Subject X gently tilts his glass towards himself at a roughly 45 degree angle and quickly inspects the contents of his pint. This motion lasts about one second and is unconsciously disregarded just as it had been unconsciously acted.

Now the practical reason behind this gesture is completely mysterious. Perhaps it is to ensure that no foreign body has landed in said pint. Perhaps it is executed in order to eliminate the possibility that some sort of parallax-related illusion, brought about by the glass’s vertical position, is somehow preventing him from properly gauging the quantity of beer he has left. Or perhaps staring into the void of his drink is preferable to staring into the void that has become his life. Who knows?

Whatever the reason behind this spontaneous oddity it holds an infectious power and on being initiated it is all of a sudden mimicked by Y and Z who repeat the gesture in turn one after the other transforming the whole tableau into a strangely choreographed spectacle of communal awkwardness that is both hilarious and sad in equal measure. In my mind it resembles a type of minimalist theatrical performance that would puzzle even Beckett himself.

Tilt and stare, tilt and stare, tilt and stare; until the circle completes itself and they are confronted again with the tangible presence of their mutual indifference towards each other—impatiently waiting for the ads to finish and for the game to come back on.






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