Friday, 7 July, 2000

The Crotches of Acquaintances

It's a warm July evening, faint hint of rain in the air, fumey haze hanging over the river. We're going to the Museum of Emotions, to see the Toy Orchestra make music from xylophones, squeaky toys, Hello Kitty karoke sticks and broken Bontempi organs.

We meet Nick first, in the stairway, while I'm putting lipstick on in the art mirrors. The art mirrors have writing on them: 'How Do You Feel?' and 'When Do You Cry?' I put the lipstick away and as I look down to zip up my bag I notice it. The Bulge.

And that's it. I'm lost. From that moment on, I cannot take my eyes off Nick's crotch. I try to rip my eyes away and plaster them onto his face. I study Sadie's hair, looking at the red hairs snaking among the brown. But then the eyes, my eyes, of their own accord, look down again. Then they scurry away, scandalised. Then they zip back down once more. I have no control over their behavior. Finally I realise there's only one way to discipline my wandering eyes. I clap my eyelids shut.

Nick is wearing a costume that someone who used to be in a prog rock band in the seventies had made. The prog rock man recently bequeathed five of these costumes to the Toy Orchestra. It's a snugly fitting trousers and top combo, of grey cotton, with one red arm attached by a zip, and a gentle flare to the trouserleg. They're flat fronted, these trousers, and have no zippers or pockets or anything. I realise, for the first time, and with frightening certainty, that Nick dresses to the right.

Girls have breasts which stick out and impishly announce their presence - or lack thereof - but boys' bits are hidden behind denim that pouches and wrinkes, behind thick zips with plastic teeth and fabric flaps, behind t-shirts that hang low or shirt-fronts that fall to mid-thigh. Nor have most straight boys learnt, as girls have, an array of tricks to subtly enhance and draw attention to certain body parts.

Every girl knows that, under the guise of simply leaning back in her chair, a gentle push back of shoulders will cause her bust to rise dramatically - a tactic best used, with devastating effect, in job interviews, driving tests, and other occasions that involve dealing with middle-aged middle-management types. Every girl knows the subtle enhancement a well-placed upper arm can give to a cleavage. Yet how many boys think to shove their hands in their pockets and lean back, tightening the fabric of their jeans where it counts?

So come on boys, get with the programme. It's a new century now, and you've no excuse not to charm just as delicately and calculatedly as we do. Learn from your sisters and gay brothers. Accentuate your assets: stand tall, and proud, and tightly-trousered. Because then I'll get used to it, and be spared these inconvenient fixations with the crotches of acquaintances. Boys, I urge you: emphasise your best bits. Any way you want to. Just emphasise your bits.


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