I was watching girls in bikinis down by the pool last evening when it did occur to me that I was feeling a sense of exasperation and annoyance watching them. I thought at first it might be a hostility born of sour grapes. After all, they weren't with me, and I'd have felt very much the intruder if I'd gone down to the pool. I'm not likely to fit in to a poolside scene, and there was no chance I could speak to them. But when I thought a bit more about it, it did occur to me that something else was happening as well.
I was watching the bikini girls from the window by my writing desk, and it did strike me that the window was part of it all. I could see the girls swimming and sunning and laughing together, see them drinking bottled beers and chilled gin drinks. I was exasperated and annoyed that they weren't topless in the sun, or skinny-dipping in the pool, or drunkenly kissing one another. I was annoyed that, as flimsy as their bikinis were, no one's top came off when she dived into the pool. There's no reason why any of those things should happen in real life...though those things would've happened in almost any film. I was annoyed that what I was watching wasn't playing itself out the way it would have in a film. The window was a frame for what I was watching. Sitting at my desk and looking out through the glass was exactly like watching something on a television screen. They were framed in the window, centered there as a scene.
Social programming, I suppose. Anything seen in a frame, anything seen on or through what might be a screen, isn't daily life. It's supposed to be scripted and edited. It's supposed to be a story told to entertain or excite or amuse the viewer. Too many years of living inside books and films have left me much less able to distinguish what I see on a television or laptop screen from what I see framed in my window. The bikini girls weren't real-life girls who live near my flat, they were characters in a film, and one that I was exasperated with for its poor writing. It wasn't just sour grapes that they weren't with me. It was that I was watching a flawed film, a film that couldn't hold my interest. I suppose I see far too much of life that way.