Early on a Tuesday evening in a trendy bar in central London, 2 women are having a drink together. The place is quite busy, but not crowded, and the women have one of the good tables by the window. The women are Americans on a short holiday together, a 4 day break from their usual routine back home in Chicago. They arrived pretty late last night and so this is their first full day. Flying back on Friday afternoon, so lots to squeeze in.
The women look of similar age, one of them maybe a couple of years younger than the other. In fact, they are both 37. One of them, the slightly younger looking one, is called Joanna Ford ... Jo to her friends ... and the other is Martha Fitbody.
Which is quite ironic because, of the pair, it's Jo Ford who is far and away the more appealing to the eye. Jo is medium height and slim, with the sort of sexy figure that men notice. She has luxuriant, wavy brown hair, flawless skin and a strikingly attractive face. She's perhaps not quite what you'd call drop dead gorgeous but she's a real looker. Martha Fitbody, on the other hand, is anything but. Her name, something of a burden to her, could hardly be more inappropriate. She also has nice skin but, other than that, it's bad news. She's short and dumpy and she has a face that passes as plain, and only on a good day.
Jo and Martha are friends, have been for years, but they have a rather unbalanced relationship in which Jo tends to call the shots. Neither would put it into words but they both know the reason for this is the contrast in their looks. It's surprising, in many ways, that they still hang out together, especially in the case of Jo Ford who has a fair few other friends and doesn't really need the company of Martha Fitbody. Somewhat perversely, however, Jo likes to spend time with Martha precisely because Martha is so ugly ... it makes her feel deliciously attractive by comparison. She's conscious of being a very good looking woman, of course, but sitting in a bar next to Martha Fitbody, as she is now, she knows she looks like a world-beater.
One of their recurring conversations is the never married Martha bemoaning the lack of a man in her life whilst Jo, twice divorced and never short of male attention, gives little tips on how to put that right. It's a conversation that Jo always enjoys because it allows her to regale Martha with stories of her own considerable success in that field. She's not averse to the occasional one night stand with men, more than occasional if truth be told, and she often makes a point of telling Martha all about it afterwards. It amuses Jo to imagine how sexually frustrated Martha surely is, and how terribly jealous of her she must feel.
As for poor Martha, well, she has no other friends and that's why she clings to this so called friendship with Jo Ford. Jo is aware of that too, of course, and it explains the superior and patronising manner she tends to adopt when she's with Martha.
Like now, for example, Martha is wittering on about going to Westminster Abbey tomorrow morning and Jo, feeling bored, is making no effort to even pretend to listen. She's gazing around the bar, smoking a cigarette, just kind of waiting for Martha to run out of steam.
"So what d'ya think, Jo?" Martha is asking.
"About that for a plan?"
Jo doesn't answer. She's noticed a rather dishy looking thirty something man at the bar, having a drink on his own.
She turns back to Martha. "Sorry, tell me again."
Martha doesn't complain about Jo ignoring her, she just starts chattering again about the same thing.
This time, Jo does look at her, pretending to be interested, but she can sense that Mister Tall Dark and Handsome at the bar is glancing over occasionally and she's far more interested in that.
Jo leisurely sips her drink and continues the pretend conversation. "Sure Marth, why not?" she drawls. She's feeling relaxed now. In particular, she feels secure in the knowledge that, if TDH is looking their way, he'll only be checking out one of them and it won't be the little dumpling sat opposite.
The beauty of going out with Martha, she smiles to herself ... no competition.
"And what about the afternoon?" Jo asks, because she's happy for Martha to keep chuntering while she concentrates on other matters.
More important matters like TDH.
Martha has clearly already thought about tomorrow afternoon. "Well, there's that show playing in this theatre pretty close to our hotel. Y'know, that one that's been running for about 60 years and I thought we could ... you know ... get tickets for the matinee maybe. And then, after that, we could maybe..."
Oh, what a bore she is ... thank god for distractions!
Jo lights another cigarette, uncrosses her legs and pretends to rummage around in her bag for something. As she's doing that, she shifts the position of her chair and angles herself away from Martha, more towards the bar area. She puts the bag back on the table and then she slowly, sexily re-crosses her legs. She's wearing a close fitting skirt, that's also quite short, and the way she's sitting now, the hem has slid revealingly about half way up her thighs. Jo knows she's got extremely nice legs and she likes everyone else to know it too. Especially handsome men in bars!
Jo glances over at TDH and sees that the guy is ogling her. He's toying with the last of his drink and he's looking at her legs, obviously liking what he sees.
Exactly what she was hoping, in other words ... expecting, let's face it.
She catches the man's eye and smiles at him.
It's a smile Jo has perfected over the years. She's been flirting with men since forever and she knows exactly what she's doing. The little smile says I know you're checking me out and I like it. Carry on.
Martha is still chattering away. Jo doesn't know if the silly cow realises that her attention is elsewhere and she doesn't really care. She keeps Martha primed with the occasional "oh really?" and "uh uh," and "guess so," that sort of thing, but what she's mainly doing is communicating subtly with the dishy man at the bar.
He's ordered another drink, she's pleased to notice, and he's definitely checking her out now. Every time she glances over at him, he's looking at her. He smiles when he catches her eye and Jo can tell he fancies her something rotten.
Jo likes the look of him too and she's enjoying the situation. It's always fun when an attractive man gives her the eye, and she particularly loves it happening when she's with Martha because it plays to her feelings of superiority. Course, this same thing happens a lot when the 2 of them go out back in the States but, somehow, it feels more exciting in a foreign city. One big thing, for example, that's different, is she and Martha are sharing a hotel room and Jo, pretty sure now that the man is genuinely interested, is plotting something rather wicked for the rest of the evening, and for later on.
She can tell that Martha has finally picked up on what's going on with the man at the bar. Sensing that she's fast losing the fight for Jo's attention, Martha is gabbling faster and she sounds a bit breathless. Jo keeps half an ear tuned to the increasingly desperate wittering ... how nice the red buses look ... isn't the bar filling up? ... what about dinner? ... blah blah blah ... but she's pretty much ignoring Martha now. She keeps looking over at TDH, basking in his admiring attention, enjoying how he seems to be mentally undressing her. He's gazing at her more or less constantly and she's guessing that he's already fantasising about going to bed with her.
Jo, blatantly teasing now, keeps crossing and uncrossing her legs in her sexy little skirt ... slides a finger up and under the hem to scratch an imaginary itch on her thigh. She plays with her hair, toys with the buttons of her blouse. She slides her feet in and out of her shoes, dangles one of them on her bare, red painted toes. She keeps smiling invitingly at the man, giving him the signal that she's not just a tease, that she finds him desirable.
Jo looks at poor Martha, who never gets to do any of this fun, sexy stuff with men ... never experiences the thrill of what she herself does so often ... is doing right now. Martha is chattering on even though Jo is obviously in full tease and flirt mode with the handsome stranger. Jo wonders what it's really like for her, having to put up with watching this. Must be so dispiriting for the poor thing.
"Jeez, there's a guy over there just can't stop staring at my legs," she says to Martha, rubbing it in, "you don't think my skirt's a little short, Marth, do you?"
"No way," says Martha, "just wish I could wear things like that."
Jo just nods and smiles, "yeah, it's fun to tease the guys now and again ... y'know ... make em drool, poor dears."
Christ, Martha really is pathetic, Jo thinks to herself. Just look at how the ugly bitch is dressed. The usual shapeless, baggy top, the very unflattering jeans, the cheapo trainers.
She chuckles as she recalls a phase Martha went through a while back, when she started trying to look a little more feminine and sexy ... wore above the knee skirts a few times, and frilly little blouses. Jo had encouraged her in this, because it amused her no end to see the poor cow looking so ridiculous, but the jeers and insults of other people, especially some of the cruder men they ran into on their nights out, rather undermined her efforts and Martha soon gave up.
"Hey Marth, you look nice in that top ... is it new?" she says, inwardly giggling.
.... There is more of this story ...