Twenty Two: Cracking Plato’s Egg February 7, 2014Posted by The Typist in 365, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
Tags: 365, friend love, platonic relationships
My backyard neighbor’s rooster is screwy. I’m not awake enough at dawn to hear him, but I certainly can’t miss his predilection to crow at odd moments of the day. He is a new addition to the neighborhood, and perhaps just feels it necessary to announce himself the cock of the walk. Or else he is just calling out to the hens, a perfect example of the male of all species, that one irrepressible drive underlying everything else.
Its true enough for men. I remember an old cartoon from long ago, the thought balloon over the head of the average Joe in the street wondering why he was always thinking about sex. The dotted thought balloons over the heads of everyone around him on the street were a mild Kama Sutra suitable for the open magazine rack. We are all familiar with the idea of the male gaze as defined in the cinema, but it is not just a trope of criticism. I read an article recently on 21 ways to please women, and one of the highest was to give her your entire attention when in public. No eyes grazing the room or following a passing woman but our programming to spread the genes is hardwired deep in the lizard brain perched at the back of our skull. It get worse when recently freed from a long spell of monogamy, a cold bed, to find myself at the bar with friends, my head swivelling like a stock shot of a Cold War missile tracking system, the one exception Saturday’s at Mimi’s when a hundred clones of my daughter passed in their spray on mini-dresses to see Soul Sister and some better angel made me try to ignore them.
I don’t think this makes me a horrible person, but in the modern environment of gender relations I am certainly standing out on the ledge. I was called a misogynist by someone I don’t know for weighing in on the entire controversy on Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow—the fallibility of memory and the flexibility of truth being subjects dear to my heart—but I don’t think anyone who knows me would agree with that. I think perhaps pig is the word they were looking for but I believe there is a significance in Circe’s decision to turn all of Oddysseus’ crew into swine. I don’t believe to admire attractive women is to objectify them, especially if one’s definition of attractive starts with beautiful eyes and moves promptly to intelligence, wit, and learning. A nice pair of legs doesn’t hurt, but for me it starts with the eyes and what lies behind them. If that’s objectification, you’ll need to add a lobotomy to castration if you seek to cure me.
What I struggle with is separating the lizard impulses from genuine affection for a woman when everyone’s intentions (at least as far as I know) are purely friendly. I know men with very close women friends who appear to be able to separate the two easily, but I think back to that cartoon and wonder if they are poseurs. I am uncomfortable with this particular personal failing to the point of (subconsciously I realize) avoiding at least one person, if only because I have been burned by having (hand-in-hand, mind you) stepped one foot over that line once. If I have anything like a resoluti,n for 2014 it is to learn practice the art of friend-love. If one is attracted to intelligent and witty women, this should be easy. Look into their (beautiful) eyes and keep your mind on the conversation. Be as passionately connected to their intellects, to their stories, to their feelings as you would be to their bodies in other circumstances. When the lizard brain flickers its tickling tongue, enjoy that pleasant tingle but don’t let the serpent swallow you whole.