Monday, March 27, 2006

Near miss

Yesterday I went to brunch with my friend Donnetta. We spent a couple of hours eating and gabbing at La Conversation on Doheny in Beverly Hills. La Conversation is one of my favorite places in LA to have brunch; the food is delicious and fresh, and the décor is adorable, imitating a French café style (badly - the cheesy "curtain" wallpaper and metal Eiffel Tower statuettes are what make the place achingly cute). It's bright and intimate, the perfect spot in which to catch up with someone that you haven't seen in a long time. It was already 1:30pm when Donnetta and I met up, so I wasn't quite in the mood for anything too breakfast-y. I settled on the huevos rancheros, which were amazing and really hit the spot.

Afterwards, we decided to take a walk through the surrounding neighborhood, which is primarily residential and features every style of gorgeous house imaginable. It's the kind of neighborhood that's perfectly, eerily quiet; you know that people must live there, but you rarely see or hear anyone except for the occasional cyclist or jogger (who are probably just passing through anyway). Some of the houses are similar to the large bi-levels that my friends and I grew up in back east, but most of them are one floor, and quite small. There's something both thrilling and utterly depressing about looking at a tiny, 2 bedroom house with a postage stamp of a lawn, knowing that it costs at least $700,000. I call them "chic shacks"; many of them are no larger than a Montauk beach house, with only a row of hedges preventing a direct view into the neighbor's kitchen. These shiny, perfectly manicured abodes are often built with barely 50 feet of space between them, giving the whole area a kind of glamorous claustrophobia - as if the glitterati of Beverly Hills clamored in a mob to get their little house built first.

We were doubling back towards Doheny, on a street called Keith Avenue, and I was checking telephone poles and street lamps for flyers. A friend of mine is looking for a new apartment, and she likes the area, so I thought I'd collect any info that I saw on our walk. At the end of Keith Ave., near Willey Lane, I spotted a telephone pole that had a purple flyer stapled to it. I had to step off the sidewalk and turn my back to the street to read it. No dice - it was just an ad looking for a housekeeper.

When I turned back towards Donnetta, she had her hand over her mouth and was trying to suppress a laugh. "Oh my God, that's one of the funniest things I've ever seen." She was looking down the street after a young guy on a bike.

"What did I miss?"

"Ok. Um," - more laughter - "these two guys on bikes were coming down the street from opposite directions, and both of them turned their heads at the same time to check you out. They almost hit each other."

"Stop it! They did not." I was actually kind of appalled. Oblivious Ginger missed the whole thing!

"No, really, they missed each other by about an inch. I thought that kind of thing only happened in movies. It was the funniest thing I've seen, ever." She was still laughing, so hard that I started laughing too.

We were still giggling almost a minute later. "So funny," Donnetta sighed. I laughed and shook my head. "Men are such odd creatures," I mused, which elicited a hearty laugh from the newly divorced Donnetta. Dear readers, the male penchant for rubbernecking has always seemed a little "off" to me. There are what, 6.5 billion people on the earth? A little over half of them are female. We are no rarity, and we're everywhere. What's the fascination? Why do some guys have to fully "check out" any female that they find remotely attractive? It's a habit that crosses every racial and economic boundary, and some guys never seem to grow out of it, which I find amazing. Don't get me wrong, we women have our own hottie-spotting systems ("Eye candy at 11 o'clock!" my girls and I will whisper to each other), but there's no turning of the head to watch the guy go by. It's playful; it's quick; it's subtle. One cute guy seems much like another in LA; tight T-shirt, fashionably faded jeans, well-worn baseball cap, perfectly even stubble. It's a cookie-cutter hotness, the male counterpart of the tan, blond, skinny girl in her too-tight halter top. Still, strange men hold less fascination for us than the ones we already know. Women (I can't speak for all of us, but I can speak for the ones I know), take a quick peek, and we're done.

Guys seem to have to take it all in, to get a good look at everything. When I do notice them doing it, it can feel downright invasive. A couple of weeks ago, I was walking to work in the morning, and I passed a group of construction workers that were building a new restaurant across from my office. One of them looked right at me, said nothing, but silently watched me walk by him. After I passed by, I could see him reflected in the windows of the building next to me, turning to watch me walk away. I kept walking; he stood and watched. What for? Was he just bored? Tired of looking at his coworkers and just happy to look at someone new? Was I supposed to be flattered? Do guys not comprehend that doing that is CREEPY? Say it with me: creeeee-py.

Long story short, those two bozos on Keith Avenue could have put each other in the hospital because they liked the way I filled out my jeans! Does that make sense to you? I guess it makes sense in Testosteroneland.

Strange creatures, you men. But you do, however unintentionally, make us women laugh; I guess that's your saving grace.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Linnaeus said...

I'll confess that I've been guilty of rubbernecking on more than one occasion, though I do think that as men get older, they get more subtle about it. A few of us at some point come to the understanding that ogling creeps women out and will not make you very appealing to her.

As to why many of us do it in this way, it's hard to say. I don't think men even give it much thought. I never did myself; it just seemed like such a delight to see so many women about that it's hard not to lose yourself in looking. That can, as you point out, go too far.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Linnaeus, it's almost an unconscious reaction.

2:06 PM  
Blogger YGPunked said...

Maybe if woman didn't hold ALL the cards in the sexual department, men wouldn't turn into so much pavlovian fodder. Woman get hit on probably at least once every 10 minutes, where as guys only get hit on when their driving a new car. So of course you are going to get the stares. You should think of it more as a hypnotic trance (lol) - With a backwards look, a wink, and a nod, you would of had that construction guy eating out of the palm of your hand... literally... you should carry some doggie treats with you and watch the magic. Men will do anything to please a woman, especially a fierce one like yourself. WOOF!

10:49 AM  
Anonymous stvkorea said...

Two thoghts on it,
1. Men are visual oriented. Gotta check it out!

2. To some of us, we mean it as a compliment. Not checking you out would imply that you are not attractive.

Sorry to creep ya'll out, but that seems to be the way our brains are wired.

On a similar note, I know what you mean by getting creeped out by it. As an expat living in Asia I get stared at all the time. It always cracks me up when someone runs into something while staring at me!

12:35 AM  
Blogger Ginger said...

stvkorea,
Thanks for the comment, but I have to say that I think the male gaze is a direct product of social conditioning, and that "we just can't help it, we're wired that way" is an easy way to avoid responsibility.

We live in a culture where the female body is used to sell absolutely every kind of product, where women are sold for sex, and pressured to look a certain way, to cater specifically to the male eye. That's all a product of culture, not wiring.

Women like to look at attractive men. We're generally more subtle about it, because we know how it feels to be treated as objects.

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