Last night I went out with a group of friends to the Siana Bar in Brisbane. It’s a new lounge/bar that serves “contemporary Asian cuisine”. In other words: expensive Asian food served on square plates. The place is modern, lavish and swanky with dim lights, loud music, wide open spaces to mingle, small personal places to chat and be intimate, and flat screen displays in abundance just in case there isn’t much to talk about. It felt expensive. And there were bouncers. For a little Asian man used to yum cha, Chinese take-away dinners, crap decor and even worse service this place was quite an eye-opener.
not your typical chinese takeout
We all need strutting grounds to display ourselves to whoever cares to make us feel relevant. A place to puff our chest and fluff the feathers. And it is most clearly seen where brazen masculinity meets selective femininity: in my youth it was the night club scene; in my maturing years the place to go seems to be “the lounge” (of which the Siana Bar is one). The male shows off his wealth and status by the way he presents himself, orders food and beverages without seeming to care about the price, or (in case you didn’t notice) he will simply tell you outright. The female shows that she is receptive by the way she dresses (the height of the heels is usually a good gauge) and once you get past the cleavage she will lend you an ear with appropriately timed nods of agreement. If she laughs at your jokes, then you’re ready to nest (at least temporarily).
I’ve never been very comfortable in this setting. And when I starting riding a bicycle and had the revelation that you could race others (the bicycle race is a strutting ground for the cycling-inclined) I soon realised that a late (nearly always un(re)productive) night interfered significantly with the morning ride the day after. Being a short and somewhat unspectacular male specimen no doubt contributed to a poor strike rate at nightclubs and a better than average power-to-weight ratio on the bike.
And now I am older and considerably slower, I have found another strutting ground. It’s small and, from an ornithologist’s perspective, consists of only a select number of twigs and few scratchings in the dirt. Yes, it is a rather small collection of old bicycles and bits and bobs but I’m proud of it and it does allow me to preen my ego. I accept it’s not really that impressive (certainly not in terms of attracting a mate of the same species) even when I puff my chest and fluff my feathers. But, when I have the time, I will continue to tell the whole world about it.