Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Body

"There are things that I find attractive about both sexes. The human body is where I should begin, I guess."

That was the first line of this installment, but I don't know where to go with it. You see, the sentence was sparked by a photograph I saw on the internet from a nudist beach of a woman and her boyfriend.

I saw this woman's body, and just ignored the man's. They are walking away from the sea, and the sun is shining on their salted bodies. The last time I was on a beach was with Ms. Portugal at Figuera do Foz. It is the city where her family used to vacation when she was a child. There was something about it that was so silent and small and cold and jagged. I remember we got into an argument concerning my low blood sugar. She wanted me to sit outside and I wanted to go inside immediately when we approached a resturaunt after a couple of hours on the sand. I told her that I needed sugar. She thought I was not acting in a rational manner. And I wasn't, but that is part of being diabetic, the mood swing. But I was also reacting to her need to control, and the fact that without speaking Portuguese and her constantly saying it was impossible to master that and German at the same time. In short she, always lite a ball of fire under my ass that I wanted to shout out with my tongue, so my words just came out so wrong all the time with her. Did you know that the Portuguese are among the least most confrontational people in the world? I wonder where African Americans stand on this spectrum. I suspect far, far away.

Ms. Portugal also came from a small place (and in some cases a different time), and I guess I was an oddity. A man that could cook, and take care of himself to a certain extent. And then there was my disease, the difficulty I found in talking about it. The fright she had concerning my reaction to things. She did not understand that the sun, the aerobic activity of being in the ocean, the light diet of summer time and the exertion of walking in the sand always brings my sugar down. I have noticed this with time, and I do tend to get low on a beach; but, I wonder sometimes, because that trip was about us acting like things were OK, and they simply weren't. The relationship was over and I was simply passing through to see her. I never really made the decission to be with her.

The last time I saw a couple like the one in this picture was on the beach in Figuera do Foz. They must have been British or Dutch. Everybody checks everybody out on a beach. And it was clear to me that these guys were taller than anyone else besides myself, and they were blond and light. The sun was not that strong then, and maybe this was September. I remember the drive there, and us sleeping over at Ms. M's house in Coimbra the night before. Ms. M is Ms. Portual’s dearest friend. And I remember the dinner where I mispronounced a Portuguese word, and it sounded like the a word for the female anatomy. Ms. M. giggled with her lips clamped like she broke her jaw. I did not know what she was laughing about until Ms. Portugal told me.

So, this picture, reminded me of the female body at the beach. It reminded me of Ms. Portugal’s body on a bed, though is is dark and short. It reminded me of the past. It reminded me of Portugal and the invasion of Brits and Germans on the shores of Iberia. But, it was the way this woman was shaved that really attracted me to this photography. Her bikini wax, that was simply a thin line of hair in the middle, and whoever took this photo at the beach had to have had that in mind when he looked at his camera phone later that day. The photo is not forced, nor is it pornographic. The blond woman’s hair was up in a tiny ponytail, and she lead the way, as her slacker boyfriend emerged less dramatically. He was thin, and Blink 182 like -- punk but not pyro -- just a new aged bilingual greaser.

Since I wrote that first italicized line in the morning, and in between that time I have finished the blog for Tuesday, driven out to Goodlettsville, fought traffic to get back, talked to my cousin, warmed the roasted chicken, spooned out a plate of green pea salad, and had several cups of coffee, I have lost the thread. What I originally wanted to say about that photograph is gone.

I wanted to talk about the woman's body. I wanted to mention this 25 year old woman that was topless in a German GQ magazine photograph. Dark caramel brown sista with a head wrap. She was topless. She was interviewed with other German girls, telling men what they look for in a chance encounter. This is something I have little practice with in actuality. I meet a woman like Ms. Portugal or Ms. A and it just starts. The flirting, and revelation of the body to each other is known before words. I don’t have a pick-up line. I know, she knows, we both know it will happen, like some unexplainable beckon drawing us to the same lighthouse. I don't kiss and tell. I don't brag to my friends about my conquest. Many times I have “had” far more than they could imagine (wait, that is bragging isn’t it). Some straight friends believe that I am lying about the women or find it amazing to see me with a woman, so I stopped telling many of them. And with my gay friends, if I am with a woman, they find it to be retrograde, reprobate, denial, etc . . . So, I think I have turned into a love bandit of sorts. I trust a few. Only a few know what are the right questions to ask. Some asked me about Ms. Portugal. In fact other lovers have asked about Ms. Portugal. No one asks about Ms. A. They just see pictures and say very good. They say she's hot. I just scoot about, taking the Ms. A’s conversations and the walks alone, me and this object of affection, which all relationships in the end are, and try to turn it into something that might work. I don’t know if it will. No new developments, but new feelings from us both I suspect.

The woman in this photograph was my type of woman I think. She was two steps a head of the guy, who was clearly a space cadet. She is the practical one. He is the risk taker. They emerge from the water on this nude beach of Ibiza, Malloroca, or Evora to find their blanket in the sun. And like Figuera do Foz, Jones Beach, Coney Island, the sand dunes in Queens, the beach in Phoebus Virginia, the beaches of Antigua, Venice beach and the black rocks on the Black Sea they are being checked out.

This photograph, for which I am at a loss of words, hit my screen today, and I felt like I did a while ago. 8 years ago, I sat on Jones Beach and leaped into the waves for hours. I was sick the next day from all the sun, and maybe something in the water. But I remember looking at the men and the women. Looking at the female lifeguards and their suits. The dark African girl with braids, her athletic body in the sun, the white one piece bathing suit with a thong in the back stretched over her body without shame or embarrassment. She had authority. She did not give a damn. She sat on her towel and talked to the man in the high chair. There was a couple behind us that day. A man and a woman and they were middle aged. The blond haired woman smiled at us. Me and my friend, who is dead now, smiled back. I looked at the vastness of the water, and glanced back at the husband and wife. They both watched us with different eyes. The wife wondering about us, the man wondering about us too. Italian. American. Black Speedos. Bleach Blond Hair. Sand. My friend was listening to his walkman and writing. I was trying to read, distracted by the waves. I dived into the waves, timed my motions, and moved like an Olympic swimmer. At least that is how I imagined it. I emerged on the other side, salted and tasting the green in the water, and feeling the sun on my face. I passed through the wave, the wave passed through me, and because of my ability, I stood still. I did not move. I just waited for the next.

Back on the beach, I remember, to my right was a man with a perfect body wearing those jogging shorts that double as swim trunks. He had his walkman on too. He was there just to relax and talk on the phone then go to the club. Then there was the swimmer that swam farther than me. I spoke to him in the waves, as they hit me under my neck. He swam back and said hello. He was in his 40’s and in great shape. He said hello to the lifeguards. He changed and he left. Everyone was of different colors and races and sizes. Everyone was self conscious, letting a little rise happen in their shorts because the water would shrink it. Everyone was feasting.

I wish I could say more about this photograph. It just makes me think about the human body, a relationship that sprouted but never grew and the sea that I miss. I am here with the landlocked side of the family, I am much different than them I have never seen my mother swim in my life.


Kai in NYC said...

Wow. I dig the stream of consciousness. I think you communicated a lot more about the photo (and its embeddedness in memory and personal significance) than you're giving yourself credit for.

John K said...

L, the piece was beautiful. I think our former prof EKB would be proud (seriously). I'm a little dolphin since my mother swam with me when I was an infant, but then I had a scare because I saw a teacher drowning my god brother--she put her boot on his head and kept him under the water--so I suffered such a severe psychological trauma that I was afraid to swim for years. (His cousins also sat on him and held him under the water, to top things off.) My father wasn't having it so he threw me into the pool at MY godparents' home, which was utterly embarrassing and cruel but it worked. From then on I swam again. I especially like the beaches in Brazil and the Dominican Republic. The people there basically step out of my dreamworld or imaginary (not the Lacanian meaning of the term). When I think of the woman you were describing so marvelously I also got this image of a chick from a Michel Houellebecq novel--I highly recommend, he's terrifying but vital. I wanted to hear more about the man--thinking of your earlier post this week, were you covering, or subjecting yourself to the demands of the gaze? What did the man look like? Was he alluring? Did his body or the afterimage of his body--what remains on the screen of your mind now--leave any impressions? I'd love to hear them.

Littlemilk said...

Thanks for the compliments, I have been getting different reactions to the blog from people in different countries and professions and it has all been sending me on a head trip actually. Trips concerning "the audience" and the "writer" . . . so Sophmore English.

Anyway, to answer your question J, I could not remember a single detail concerning the man. I looked at the picture again, and the hairy punk guy I thought I saw, looks more like Dave Navarro from Jane's Addiction/Red Hot Chilli Peppers (he never got the respect he should have gotten from the critics for how he made them guys sound, it was fuckin' genius). The guy is very thin framed, a bit tan, his hair is slicked back and he is wearing glasses . . . sunglasses. I wondered if he wore them in the water? And he isn't hairy. The view I had of him in my mind was comepletely different.

I think the very fact that the woman was far more beautiful than the man, and her face head was almost completely chopped off the shot, but not in a bad way, caused me to block him out.

Normally, my eyes will glance towards a guy because many times attractive men don't know they are attractive, so I just check them out. Plus I am a sucker for a guy with big thighs and a nice round "bunda". Someone that does not work out, or is over 40 but still has something in his salt and pepper, or is lushious in some unsaid way really appeals to me.

But this woman was a perfect ten. She was elegant, and her movements on film were that of something otherwordly. It is pretty hard for someone to do that without clothes.

I was definitely subjecting myself to the demands of the gaze because the picture was taken either by a heterosexual or a woman. I am betting that it was a heterosexual cause her face was ignored. So, I felt as if I was on that beach in that moment. The angle of the photograph makes one think that you were laying back on the sand, feet crossed watching the people go by.

The man was not alluring, and upon closer examination, the gold around his next, the way his toes spread in the sand, the goatee and a smirk don't combine into any visible symbol. He is just part of the background. He is follage.