Tuesday, June 12, 2007


In the city today, I witnessed some troll-like guys in the cab of a truck—stopped at a light on Park Avenue and 28th Street—beeping and making sucking noises and yelling in a language I couldn’t distinguish from where I was, at a willowy young brunette in flat shoes, a brown summer dress with those string-like shoulder straps holding it up, tall and attractive, her hair falling over her shoulders in a version of the way movie stars looked in the 1940s, and beautiful enough to be a model back then.

I hadn’t seen anything so blatant in a while.

Spring in the city, especially when it’s turning to Summer on a hot and humid day like today, is spectacular for a man in Manhattan.

I don’t know what it’s like for women, but for any man I’ve ever discussed it with, Spring and Summer in New York City is a feast of females blossoming.

But most of us guys just stare, we don’t make noises.

Though I’ve known women who appreciate the smack smack of the construction workers’ lips as they pass, the whistles and shouts. Usually women with great shapes but not such beautiful faces.

And I’ve known women who hate that kind of male attention so much they changed their style, chopped their hair off and adapted the male construction worker look for themselves, like a lot of feminists I knew in the early 1970s, back when a woman with a buzz cut was too shocking to be considered attractive by “straight” guys, before pioneers like Kathy Acker and Sinead O’Connor made that look as sexy as long locks have always been.

I used to be guilty of having a swivel head when it came to women I just passed on a New York sidewalk, something I do rarely now, after women complained about how crude it made me seem.

But still. If you’re not walking through one of the city parks, or on one of the tree lined streets of Manhattan—of which there are many more than when I was a kid, thank God— the only indication of nature’s bounty, as otherwise manifested in the trees and flowers and bushes of the city parks and suburbs of the Northeast, is in the style of clothing, not to mention the flesh, of fellow humans.

And for me, and most men I know, in not just the exposed flesh of the warm-weather clothing women wear, but in their exposed hair, out from under winter hats or umbrellas or even hoodies on many of the younger ones. There even seems to be more openness in their eyes, in the faces they expose to the world of the streets as they pass by.

For the few years during my thirties when both women and men made it clear they found me attractive—and did it in ways that would have been considered “sexist” if I were a woman and they all men—I exulted in that, found the attention flattering, exciting, even a turn on.

I know a lot of women don’t feel that way about that kind of attention, but I also know some do.

Being of an age when women don’t notice me as much as they used to, I limit my attention to be as unobtrusive as I can. But even still, I am so grateful for the abundance of attractiveness to be found on the streets of Springtime, and Summer, Manhattan.

As the poet James Schuyler put it in his poem “December”—

“…Californians need to do a thing to enjoy it./A smile in the streets may be loads! You don’t have to undress everybody.”

Or make crude noises. Amazingly, the brunette just stood there, ignoring them, completely composed and even more stunning in the coolness of her composure.


Stephanie said...

I enjoyed reading your post. Insightful.

tore's tour said...

Life starts that way.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

I enjoy swivel-heading at boys. They never notice.

Never? Well. Hardly ever.