Thursday, June 01, 2006

Crowning glory?

Red hair seems to galvanize men. I cannot begin to count how many times I've been walking down the street and heard some dude call out, "Hey Red! Red!!! REEEDDDDDDDD!" to get my attention. I never hear "Hey, Blondie!!" shouted at any of the blondes I know (of course, I do live in LA; if you shouted "Hey Blondie!" here, a good 60% of the women on any given street in Hollywood would turn around). I also get all kinds of redhead jokes; "Oooh, you must be fiery, I'm not messing with you!" "Hottt blooooooded, check it and seeeee!" (yes, someone really sang that at me once). If I make a benign wiseass crack or a serious point during an argument or group discussion, I'll sometimes get, "Ooh, saucy!" or "Watch it, she's got her Irish up!" While brunettes are pegged by a lot of men as serious and solid, and blondes are unfairly pigeonholed as airheaded sex kittens, redheads pack a double punch in our culture, representing the sensual woman who can also kick ass - who will exact revenge if she is wronged. Red is war, fire, passion, blood, lust, unbridled emotion; the archetypal redhead is the wanton woman who cannot be controlled by a man. An equal combination of sexuality and strength (or the perception of it) seems to create feelings of both attraction and intimidation within a lot of men, and they love to make jokes about it. Obviously, no woman's personality is truly defined by her hair color, but it's funny to see how our culture clings to these ideas (when it comes to women in particular), and the resulting fascination that men display.

This past Saturday, I was walking down Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade with my friend Shannon; we were on our way to Café Crepe for a light dessert after hours of walking around outside on a beautiful day. The promenade was packed, and we scooted around a trio (two men, one woman) who were walking rather slowly. As I passed in front of them, one guy said to the other (over the woman's head, no less), "Oooh, I fuckin' looove redheads."

"Yeah, I'd like to grab a handful of that," the other one said. Um, grab it for what, I wonder? What activity could he so subtly be hinting at? Nice job, Smooth Operator. I'll bet you're a big hit with women who live in caves. Readers, I have to admit a propensity to display certain stereotypical redhead behaviors, and any man who thinks that he can grab 'a handful of that' without my permission will soon find himself missing a body part. Other (unprintable) sentiments were exchanged; I half expected to hear Caveman hi-five his buddy behind my back. They knew that I could hear them; I think that was the point, and yes, dear readers, it got my Irish up. The back of my head had momentarily become the ball that gets passed back and forth in the age-old game of Dudely One-Upmanship. Sociologists call this kind of behavior "homosocial"; I call it tacky, immature and lame. I turned to glare at Caveman and his cohort, who immediately shut up, embarrassed. I flipped my hair as I turned away, and walked off with a chuckle. I wanted to get a handful of a dark chocolate and banana crepe, and I'd be damned if Tweedledee and Tweedledumb were going to slow me down.

In 2004, I went to the Van Helsing premiere with my friends Patrick, Donnetta and Jordan. The afterparty was controlled chaos, with chocolate fountains, mountains of pastries, fruit, booze, hot food, hot people everywhere, celebs, music and a haunted house created especially for the occasion. The place was at capacity; body to body, people shoved past each other. Personal space was almost nonexistent. Early on, my three companions and I found ourselves sandwiched beween the chicken satay skewers and one of the bars. Patrick, ever the gentleman, volunteered to get drinks for us ladies. As he passed me my martini, he leaned down and said, "Honey, that dude totally just sniffed your hair."

"Are you kidding me? What dude?" I nearly spit out my drink. "Are you sure he sniffed me?"

"I am not kidding, he leaned down and sniffed you as he walked by." Patrick pointed him out; mid-thirties, suit, normal looking, standing with a group of friends. Well, you can dress it up in a suit, but it's still a freak, isn't it, girls?

"Girl, you got sniffed!" Patrick laughed. "Violation! It was, like, a drive-by sniffing."

Hilarious. What, did he think I'd smell like cinnamon? Maybe I look like the Herbal Essences type (nope). Maybe he had olfactophilia, which would leave me really confused, because I didn't drown myself in perfume before the party. Readers, there are moments when a woman wishes that she had eyes in the back of her head. Perhaps I should walk backwards everywhere?

Have any of my readers had bizarre experiences like this? Let's hear them!

The above painting is called "Redheads Fire," by artist Sharon Kelley.


Blogger Ben Varkentine said...

Wait-you're saying redheaded girls *don't* smell like cinnamon? I think I'm going to cry...

1:02 PM  
Blogger Linnaeus said...

I guess I don't have a particular hair-color fetish. I like all kinds of colors; I think what gets my attention more is the style.

Being a guy with a rather "ordinary" head of light-medium brown hair, I can't say I've experienced this behavior, but I know a few women friends who have had certain assumptions made about them due to their red hair. None that I know of have had to deal with examples as extreme as you have, but maybe they just didn't tell me.

Btw, I don't get down to Southern California much, but last time I was there (a few weeks ago), my friend took me to the Santa Monica Promenade, and I have to say I thought it was a pretty cool place. A new reason for me to like Santa Monica.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Ginger said...

LOL both of you crack me up! I'm so glad you guys keep coming back.

Get out the hankies Ben, we do not, in fact, smell like cinnamon (one of my favorite flavors, FYI - ever have cinnamon ice cream? It is pure heaven). I read somewhere that cinnamon and vanilla were the scents that women should wear to attract men (apparently you lads like them quite a bit; any truth to that?). I actually wear gardenia, which works just fine for me.

You know, Linnaeus, sometimes women get all fiery and opinionated *because* of the assumptions made about them - it's like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3rd St. Promenade is really, really fun people-watching.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Linnaeus said...

Ging, glad I can help entertain you. :)

As for the scents you mention, I'm not very big on cinnamon, but vanilla does draw my, ahem, attention, so there may be some validity to what you've heard. I like citrusy scents too, and certain florals.

I'm running out of Nautica, which they don't make anymore, so I'm not sure what to get for the ladies. ;)

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