Us/Them

And the parade of the poorly dressed.  One man has seen fit to slit his trousers from waistband to hem, so that from behind we catch the sight of his naked bottom, the crack between cheeks.  At night the girls flock to nightclubs and wear getups that even Fellini could not have imagined.  And always in pairs.  One girl in a zebra-print skintight dress that doesn't quite cover the twin bulbs of her rear, the other wearing rubber tights and something resembling a top.  Disappearing into the pulsating intestines of a place called Raw or Moles.  Hens in chefs hats meet stags in kilts on street corners, lose themselves in a cloud of smoke, emerge with outfits askew and cigarettes burned to the filter.  The air is heavy with shouting.  I think it's happy shouting; but how to tell, when the calls of the drunk before he (or she, in ripped denim skirt, sequin blouse) slips finally into the realm of not-remembering are so close to calls of anguish?  Perhaps it's the sound of the self letting go, leaving the conscience behind, two aspects parted by a sip too many.  Will the zebra girl wake with ears still numbed by techno, breath still seeped in rum and the empty taste of a late-night kebab-shop feast, and have a regret?  Even a single one, a small one: those shoes, she might think, they're too high, my knees are sore from dancing now.  The naked-bottomed man might sit, later, upon a cold park-bench, might feel the metallic chill in new places, places he didn't know could feel things.  Perhaps in this way the senses seem suddenly to expand. But you see them together and you think that some sort of game is being played, surely.  That the girls fumbling with purses on the street corners are deliberately emulating the hookers of bigger cities; that the blokes, staggering in zig-zag patterns, letting their English voices loose upon the town, are deliberately ignoring every siren call until the last, choosing not to look up a zebra-patterned skirt or at the way a pair of rubber legs is crossed.  Each human his (or her) own, complete, exhibit.  And each exhibiting for an invisible audience.  Not for the disdainful eyes of you or me, or of the girl in jeans holding her boyfriend's hand.  No, not for us do they strut and pose.