Monday, January 18, 2010

Speaking of Women's Breasts

A fellow has a special feeling for a friend with whom he’s chased skirts. With whom else do you soar to comparable heights (when the girls say yes) and plunge to comparable lows (when the girls say get lost)? Who else sees a secretly shy non-soldier such as myself having to summon comparable courage?

I’ve done all my non-solo skirt-chasing with fellow members of bands I’ve been in. First, there was Tot, the 1930 Four’s (we thought it would give us license to wear pinstriped gangster suits, which we never wound up buying) teen guitar prodigy. At 15, he’d forgotten more about being hip than I would know at 45; ‘twas he who turned me on (to marijuana) for the first time. Built like a middle linebacker, he looked sort of like a bowling ball in a Brian Jones wig, but do you suppose that slowed him down with the girlies? Not for a millisecond. “They want it,” he’d shrug when I tried to get him to reveal the secret of his success.

I should have learned from his example that it’s nothing to do with looks, and everything to do with confidence, but it’s always been my custom to allow such revelations to take a few decades to sink in. I remember with considerable embarrassment staring at the back of the head of a Ben Frank’s (Sunset Strip coffee shop) mod girl who, in spite of its being dark, found me less interesting than the scenery out the passenger window while Tot and his own new friend moaned and slurped and gasped and unzipped up a storm behind us.

The Kiddo and I were on more nearly equal footing. He was a lot more self-assured — I remember his having engaged in conversation a little blonde of considerable allure in a Marina del Rey disco we went to together in mid-1975 within about 90 seconds of our walking in — but I’d blossomed into a smoldering Semitic sexpot in my own right by then, and sometimes four persons left a place that only two had entered together.

The problem, if that’s the word we’re looking for, was that I’d been the only child (for almost nine years) of a mother who hadn’t felt that anything else in her life had worked very well, and who made very clear that I was the center of her universe. I was ever on the lookout for another woman who’d make me feel that way.

So much was gained when I got one, but something lost too. That which I enjoyed most about being in bands was the camaraderie, the feeling of being part of a gang. The last one, The Pits, would converge at our (formerly The Motels’) rehearsal room and pretty much race through our repertoire so we could get over to the nearby Arby’s and tease one another. The rehearsing felt like work, the bantering like fun. Being the center of a woman's universe, though, leaves little time for hanging out with the boys.

It’s my impression that working class fellows are more likely than we moisturized cognoscenti to enjoy that sort of camaraderie well into middle age, in their bowling leagues and fraternal organizations and so on. As a child watching The Honeymooners, I used to marvel at Jackie Gleason’s Ralph wanting to go bowling rather than spend the night with Audrey Meadows’ Alice, who looked awfully good to little Johnny. But now I get it. A man (or guy, as they insist in the enlarged prostate and limp dick commercials) needs a couple of times a week to be around other men, to belch and fart, not only without embarrassment, but with a shared appreciation of the act’s inherent hilarity. To wear mismatched clothing without apology. To speak of women’s breasts.

The commercials referenced above give the impression that the scriptwriters are paid according to how many times they can refer to men as guys. I’d bet that intensive consumer polling revealed prospective customers to be more inclined to buy a medication that solved a middleaged guy’s problems than a middleaged male’s or man’s. (In the UK, I suspect guy started its decades-long race toward parity with the indigenous bloke as a result of the ubiquity of the Chan Romero song "Some Other Guy", a staple of the Cavern-era Beatles repertoire.)

I have gone off on a tangent, but am an unapologetic fellow.

[Hear my life-changing new album Sorry We're Open here! Facebookers: Read more All In Tents and Porpoises essays and subscribe here.]

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