On the way (Day 25)

Sometimes fortune smiles on the idolent. I met in my new favourite beach resort, two Israeli guys who were going my way.

Well, kinda. When you have no real settled plans for how or when to get to anywhere, just about everyone seems like they are going your way. Kinda like how when you only have a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. But I digress.

So I headed up with these guys through Townsville (hot, dry, bar fights at 9:30 in the morning) to Cairns (hot, sunny, tropical, swimming pool in hostel). Four nights of my life I spent in Cairns. Hard to say that I recall much of anything. I have some photos of a walk in the bush (beware the Cassowary) that led to a charming lookout over the airport. Hmmm.

In any case, doing nothing much of anything fits perfectly with the emptiness theme that seems to characterise my perception of Australia. Not that it is entirely empty, but just that there is so much emptiness between the full bits, especially when one is trapped in an empty bit looking for a free ride north.

My beard is, I am pleased to report, starting to grow properly. When you think about it (okay, so when I think about it) facial hair does seem a little strange. Just what exactly is it about? There might possibly be a survival justification in the ice ages, when it could have helped to keep one’s face from frostbite and stuff. I might even understand its usefulness in Canada or Quebec in the present day, but Cairns? What exactly is it for – keeping off flies?

When I think about it a bit more, I think that there is nothing much in this world of mine that determines survival or not (which just goes to show how lucky I was to be born into the bit of the world I was born into). So holding beards up to the survival standard and arguing that they are pointless is a bit like arguing that we could all survive without talkback radio. True, but so what?

I conclude that beards, like talkback radio and so many other things, are purely decorative. Little baubles on the face of life that serve to make things more interesting, more different, more entertaining, more outrageous, or just more hirsute.

Some might complain of itchiness. Not I (although ingrown hairs, yes). For I am in the service of looking strange. Aren’t holidays great?

The weird bit is that sometimes I forget that I look strange. The next thing I know I am looking in a mirror and I see some blondish haired guy with the makings of an ugly beard and I start and think ‘who the hell is that’. But it is worthwhile trying these things out, I think, if only to surprise oneself and see what impact it has.

I am also experimenting (not that that is the right word) with beauty. Other people’s, of course. I have always wondered whether girls realise the impact they can have on people just by walking around (okay, so part of me says that boys can have that impact too, but let’s fact it it is not nearly as pronounced as common or as interesting).

So I asked one (admittedly one tall, slim one with very long legs) to take a wander from her lounger in the sun by the pool to the door and then back again. My part of the bargain was to count the eyes that followed her – momentarily diverted from the book, the conversation, the beer, only to turn away again when she turned around to come back and there was some chance of eyes meeting eyes. Shock horror. So long as it is secret it is okay.

Amazing how many people stopped whatever desparately important form of entertainment they were engaged in to watch her walk. It didn’t require full attention from most people, except for the one guy in every crowd who just about strained his neck watching her go one way and suddenly got very interested in his book again when she turned to come back.

It reminds me of an interesting film I saw, once upon a time. ‘Beautiful girls’ it was called, if I am not much mistaken. Well worth a look. Kinda partly about the influence of women and partly about a high school reunion (sorry, yes, horrible high school reunion type plot stuff, but not so terrible for all that).

So do we forgive a pretty face more easily than an ugly one? No doubt. Do we favour pretty faces over pretty other things? Maybe. But can one parlay one’s dextrous fingers, elegant feet or perfectly turned knee to the same slight bending of the rules as one’s long eyelashes, smiling eyes or push-up bra? I think not. Monetise, unitise, which body part is best? Does it vary by country, by gender, by time of day? Is what really matters differentiation? Would our man with the crook neck look so closely if six long legged lasses walked by one after the other? Or sixty?

Far too much thinking for a Sunday anyway.

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