La Dolce far Niente

November 2, 2007

Pffiuh, it was such a big release when I finally managed to leave meetings, targets, cash flows, action plans, and other shindigs related to work for a whole seven days.  The joy of curling up in bed at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday, the comfort of sipping tea in front of the TV, and the beauty of having brunch next to the swimming pool, my choices were endless. 

So that particular morning, I chose to indulge in my guilty pleasure: exploring the whole mall all by myself, followed by lounging at Starbucks.  There I was, sitting on the sofa, with a bottle of Sparkling Equil (I’m totally allergic to coffee, so the only things that I can drink there are water and tea) and a piece of the dazzlingly delicious chocolate croissant (it’s almost better than you-know-what).  My alone moment at Starbucks is usually the perfect time to perform what my friend Noriyu said as “masturbation of the mind”: writing.  So I reached into my handbag, turned on my PDA, and damn it, I forgot to recharge the battery yesterday (for sure, because all I did all day was reading Chris Dyer’s Wanderlust), so there goes the idea of having a creativity orgasm for lunch.  I glanced at the magazine rack, and all that’s left was a shiny new copy of Indonesian Tattler.  I didn’t think I needed another hedonistic gratification of crème de la crème to entertain me, I guess all I could do now was practically nothing, but a little bit of people-watching.

As creepy as that might sound, it was definitely not as boring as bird-watching, and you could learn a lot from observing other human being.  The first group that I noticed was a woman in her late twenties, wearing a killer pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans, followed by what looks like a babysitter, holding a baby boy who’s probably around 5 or 6 months old.  And as she sat with the latest copy of Cosmopolitan, sipping her double caramel macchiato, the baby was cooing as the babysitter teased him with an Oshkosh teddy bear. 

At the curse of my hyperactive mind, I couldn’t help but begin reflecting the sight in front of me into my life in the future.  When I have a baby, will I pay attention more to Eva Longoria’s new haircut than to my baby’s giggle?  Would the greatest joy in life for me still be finding a Mango jacket for half the price  instead of hearing my baby’s first word?  Because one of the luck – or the curse? – of being a woman in the 21st century is having the world handed to us on a silver platter.  From diapers, babysitters, drivers, maids, microwaves, dishwasher, takeouts, most of us have it easy.  Those technology and facilities were supposed to improve our life, but did they?  I’m not gonna be a hypocrite and say that I’m not gonna need any of those miracles, but I believe that we can choose which and when they’re gonna actually improve the quality of our life.  So I was asking myself, in the era where women can choose between breast-feeding and breast pump, normal and C-section, babysitter and nanny, home-cooked meals and dine out, where do we draw our lines of priorities?  Well, as the next group drew my attention, I decided to leave the question in the air until the time has really come to me to answer it.

The next group was really a sight for sore eyes.  Two men, also twentysomethings, ordered double tall latte then took a seat in the smoking section.  One was very Abercrombie and Fitch, with a pair of khakis and a white polo shirt, while the other looked like he came straight out of the latest GQ: a black pinstripe Hugo shirt with rolled up sleeves and a pair of what looks like a Diesel jeans.  Wow, we do brand our men, don’t we?

Don’t tell me that you and your girl friends never hang out at a Starbucks or Coffee Bean, then start to examine the guys around you and labeling them anything from Mr. Perfect Pants, Mr. Skanky Tie, Mr. Nice Shoes, Mr. Fake Gucci, Mr. 100 Dollars Haircut, to Mr. Nails-Are-Even-More-Groomed-Than-Mine.  As a result of this materialistic society, we do start labeling our men, judging them from their taste of clothes or choices of style, judging them based on our quick glance at their appearance and material possessions.  I myself, honestly, do judge men that I met from the watch that they wear.  There’s a lot that you can tell from a man who wears a Breitling, a Tag Heuer, a Luminor Panerai, a Nautica, to a Swatch or even a G-Shock.  Because I believe that a watch is a man’s jewelry, so he should care enough to splurge on it.  Not like us women who have endless choices of tank top, tube top, hip huggers, camisoles, stilettos, Mary Janes, mules, clutch, and tote bag, men are pretty much limited when it comes to shaping their outer image.  Their effort to serve our judging eyes is limited to the three main points of their appearance: watch, belt, and shoes.  I know you might say that I’m pretty shallow, but hey, do we have the choice of making conversations to every man that we ran into at the mall to value them based on their personality?  Hehe, I guess not, so a harmless observation of their appearance – or in a more sophisticated way of saying it: the way they wanted to be perceived – is just a method we should stick to, at least for the time being.

So back to Mr. Abercrombie and Fitch, let’s just call him Jack for he’s got a very everyday American look.  Here’s the kind of guy that would take you for a road trip across the country, maybe spending the weekend walking the dogs in the park, then stopping by at a McDonald, chewing on Double Cheese Burger, giggling as you wiped off the ketchup on his lips.  Very laid back, very informal, yet you feel like the queen of the world as he holds your hand when you cross the street.

But Jack’s friend, the Hugo Boss guy who from now on we’ll call as Jacques, will really treat you like you’re the queen of the world.  From picking you up on his black sedan with a dozen of red roses, dinner at Lawry’s followed by a little wine tasting, basically putting you on the pedestal.  His idea of a laid back date doesn’t have any household American name like McDonald’s or Baskin Robbins in it, but more like a quiet, romantic walk on the beach then followed by an intimate picnic under the stars.

So, now comes the magic question, the question that really should be asked before all that breast-feeding vs. breast pump question: would you feel more related to Jack or Jacques?  Jack is down right adorable, here’s the guy that will change your tires with the sweetest smile, literally your knight in shining armor.  But on the other hand, how you could resist Jacques with his gallant gestures, his candlelit dinner at the best restaurant in the city, his weekend at the beach, everything.  And as I said in my previous column, your choices reflect who you are.  So do you choose the guy who said “let’s work on that dreams together” or the guy who said “I’ve got everything you’ve ever dreamed of”?

Umm, did you realize that my harmless observation hour at Starbucks had turned into an in-depth analysis of the two most important questions in a woman’s life: what kind of man she chooses to spend the rest of her life with, and what kind of upbringing she wants to provide for her children?

So in my week of mind-relaxation, I ended up bringing up a reflection of the future.  In my hour of doing nothing, I ended up asking about choices in life, having a dialogue with my mind and my heart.

Anyway, I loved that afternoon at Starbucks. Who would have thought that doing nothing can actually make you think of everything?  As the Italians said it: la dolce far niente.  The sweetness of doing nothing.





4 Responses to “La Dolce far Niente”

  1. dolce far niente. The sweetness of doing nothing..

    4 hours every working days on bus.. secara sy kerja jauh di luar kota v.v. *bengong menatap rawa2 sumatra*

  2. dewi Says:

    That’s the same questions that i’ve been wondering in my mind since last year. Still, find no answer yet. Great blogs, anyway!

  3. 1n23 Says:

    I was fascinated with your words… even charmed, I guess…
    the-doing-nothing-afternoon become a very valuable story,,,
    well, do we-as a woman… have many choices in life?

  4. Ika Natassa Says:

    thanks, 1n23, i believe everything in this life is a series of choices, it’s just how we look at all the coincidences and happenings in our frame of mind aja kok.

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