Sunday, 19 April 2015

Gaggles of girls and group dynamics

The door opened and four people spilled into the pizza shop. The televisions weren't on as usual, so the restaurant part of the shop was quieter than usual. A burly man wearing the high-visibility shirt and sturdy boots which denotes "blue collar" followed in the tumble of girls and curls who spilled in before him. Their prissy and fussy starkly contrasted with the utilitarian functionality of the man.

He asked the girls where they wanted to sit. They noisily chose a booth and proceeded to pile onto the banquette, opposite their father who looked as if he was attending a job interview. Quickly the girls were silenced by the compelling content of their electronic device. He studied the menu. All interaction between the opposite sides ceased. The middle girl would occasionally elbow the older and the younger to stop them crowding her as their hypnosis deepened.

"What do you want?" he asked.

"Where's mum?" they asked.

"She'll be here soon," he replied.

Is this a Friday night handover of children between divorced parents? I wondered.

"What do you want?"

"PIZZA!" they screamed.

Well, it's a pizza shop, so that's a pretty good pick.

I continued to wonder at the contrast between the man and his progeny. All these girls - so many of them! - with their giggles and glances and things - so many of them! - must be mysterious to such a man. How does he come to know and understand his daughters? Already they seem to wield power of the man.

A feeling of confused wonder surfaced. I'd had it before. I remember sitting on a train when a group of young women dressed for a night on the town all boarded the carriage together. The sounds, sights and smells were overwhelming. As a pack, they were intimidating. They had so many shoes and bags and nails; so much hair and earrings. They jangled and tinkled when they moved, providing the soundtrack to their overly loud voices and awful, false, self-conscious tittering. The wall of their perfume made them an impenetrable group.

I look at the father and think about how lonely it can be when you're on the outside of a group - even if it's one that you don't want to be part of.

I'm doing some professional development next week as I embark on an Advanced Diploma of Group Dynamics. See you afterwards.

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