Here’s looking at you, kid.

In my early years

I like the early summer mornings, stepping out of the shower to feel the cool breeze on my naked skin. Slowly letting my body air dry. This is my hour, not to be shared with anyone else as I move through the house, still dripping wet.

A few days ago, while nearing the end of this intimate moment of privacy, I stepped out onto the open balcony to hang up my wet towel. And, as is often their habit, a small herd of Ibex had collected on the lawn below, munching contentedly on the grass offering. I stood there quietly for a moment watching them, when suddenly an ibex, one of the younger ones, looked up and saw me standing there, totally naked. He froze in utter fright. Others sensed his fear and looked up, also. It only took a few seconds for the stampede to begin, the ibex making a hasty retreat, back to the wadi from whence they came. Should I have taken offence at this comment on my natural state of being? No, I have learned to roll with the punches and look on the bright side. I may have stumbled across a solution to thwarting their marauding ways: the human scarecrow.

These are the same ibex that allow me to walk slowly and steadily through their ranks on my way to work. Seeing me approach, they will pause their munching for a moment, and then, registering no great danger,  return to their early morning breakfast while keeping track of me through a corner of their eye. How do we explain the former chaos, then? Why should my not wearing clothes make such a difference? Could it be that they do not recognize me in my nakedness? Doesn’t that conflict with our instinct? Shouldn’t I be most recognizable when I have no masks to hide behind?

As for the neighbours, I haven’t received any complaints… so far. Most people are still not up by the time I complete my naked ritual. Although one morning, I thought I caught a few flashes going off from the neighbour’s window opposite. Someone taking pictures? Collecting nude pictures of me, perhaps, that could be used against me in a future neighbourhood dispute? I doubt if they were doing this for their own artistic pleasure.

What is it about our bodies, then? Why do some bodies attract and others repel? Why do some look better covered up in clothing and makeup while others look best in their natural glory? Are we genetically programmed to find certain bodily structures more pleasant to the eye? Is this a part of our cognitive structure? And why do we describe one person as merely attractive, while we describe another as stunning? I must admit that I enjoy watching attractive women. One of my guilty pleasures. Come on… aren’t we all like that? “You can look, but no touch,” Molly told Andrew as he appeared excited by the Israeli female form – quite unlike what he was used to in Oregon. If we aren’t flustered at times by a beautiful human figure, then it may be time for someone to check our pulse.

But it isn’t all about the curves, all in the right places, is it. As a seasoned armchair woman watcher, I maintain that there is much more to it than that. The eyes have it.
“Oh no,” you say, “you aren’t going to tell us next that the eyes are the window to the soul. When all you are really interested in is looking at her butt.”
Well, call me abnormal. I have been called abnormal about so many other things. But while I may find a woman attractive upon first look, my interest quickly fades away if an attractive figure is all there is. And forgive me for harping on this, but it is in the eyes. If the eyes are vacant, she simply becomes another faceless figure in the crowd.

*This is the time to remind you that I am married and this is merely an armchair sport. Especially since my wife and inlaws sometimes read my blogs, as well as my children, sister and mother…
“You’ve been dodging the silver bullet for some time,” my good friend says to me. “It may have just caught up to you.”
I shift uncomfortably in my chair. “They will understand,” I say, but this time with a little less conviction.

But let’s forget the attractive human body and go back to talking about mine. I do think that after that rather quick response of the Ibex to my naked body, I do deserve a second opinion: this time human. But how do I go about that without appearing to be a pervert? I don’t want to make the morning headline – “Naked man shot by police as he reached for..” what exactly?

If we look at my 19-year-old figure above, I once had a body worth keeping. But we can’t, can we. Keep it, I mean. Nobody can. Not even those celebrity stars with their botox filled frozen faces. As if someone would really want to kiss that. Much scarier than my naked body, in my humble opinion. But then, I am subjective, aren’t I.

In my winter years

The irony about it all is that I probably look better now than I have in the last ten years. I have lost a lot of weight, although I consciously haven’t done anything to explain that change. My posture is much better than it has ever been and I am walking much more naturally. I guess I should thank Parkinson’s for this. It threw down the glove and I am trying now to gain early ground.

And I have two secret weapons to help me in this struggle:  a badass Pilates instructor and a badass neurologist.  They leave no room for self-pity. The Pilates instructor reminds me of an unwavering drill sergeant. Nothing gets past her. “Body straight, shoulders back! Do you think I don’t see you slouching!” My Russian neurologist reminds me of the Russian woman officer at passport control at the Moscow airport where, at one point, I thought she was about to send me to a Russian jail. She didn’t understand why I had only a visa for Kazakhstan when I was going to Kyrgyzstan, albeit through Kazakstan. And of course, she didn’t speak any English.

You see, that is exactly what I need. Not someone to let me cut corners and try to warmly encourage me. No, they have to be ruthless, within reason. So maybe the ibex had it right, all along.

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