Sunday, August 10, 2008

Men At Their Best

Some things have changed. The men are working at their projects--sketching, writing, reading. They are not loud. They are aware of their bodies and what they eat. They dress for comfort, but are pleased to roll, stretch, let a t-shirt ride up. Here they are at their un-self-conscious best. They sit tall. They are in good shape--good for them. This is enough and that is the point. They look good for themselves, not for other guys, not for the selecting female eye. We can forgive some of them their "attitude"--the young men--because of what they are trying to do, what they are forced to do: retain dignity, while at school and in the media they are portrayed as losers. The operative word is "independent." Today two lads came in--just out of college, just finishing perhaps. The taller was splendid: clear skin, some tan, lean sinewy legs, arms that reveal the single long vein across his biceps and down to his wrist. His friend could only admire him. The place sighed when he left. This was a loss. But those in the street gained. Another--a regular--sat on a window seat, reading: dark-skinned, compact, intense. Then there was one at the table. He never smiles. Trim, elegant, serious. Simplicity. I looked around. Here and there, hunched over their laptops, are a few women. Not on the prowl, pale, weak from self-starvation, wearing "serious look" make-up: large glasses, uncombed hair, deliberately mismatched skirt and blouse (tucked in). Their complements are the ones made up for the cover of a tabloid, taking a half-hour to eat half a sandwich. Those made up to be nerdman-like have succeeded in making this group unwatchable. They monitor their pretty sisters. What are they thinking, the monitors? "Do I like the way she looks? Is she betraying me by being conventionally pretty?" The tension is there. It is always there when women are present. This Freud called libido. Each time a young man walks in, however, the room settles into safety, contemplation, ease of tension. It is easy to understand why there were all-men clubs.

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